The Awakening

Posted by Cobalt | Posted in , , , | Posted on 8:31 AM


Rating: 2.5/5 stars

Yet another second-book-in-series review, following Kelley Armstrong's YA debut with The Summoning. Mildly spoilerish below:

We pick up just about exactly where The Summoning left off in the Adventures of Chloe Saunders, a drama/film major in an artsy high school who discovers that a) she can see and talk to ghosts, so b) all her childhood 'nightmares' were actually real and c) this qualifies her as 'crazy teen' in the eyes of society and family alike. So she gets shipped off to Lyle House, a group home for troubled teens...but soon after arriving, Chloe discovers that her fellow housemates aren't so much troubled as -- well, disturbing. There's Liz, who claims to have a poltergeist problem; Tori, with serious anger issues; Rae, who is a bit too fond of pyrotechnics; Simon, who's charming and friendly and doesn't seem to belong there at all; and Derek. Oh, Derek... A hulking mass of a teenaged boy, Derek suffers from a lack of: hygiene, patience, and any social skills whatsoever. As the wonderful Maya sums up in her review, "Puberty has hit him like a meteor!"

Of course, our heroine must get into Dire Straits with the Severely Misunderstood Yet Still Awfully Snappish Derek, as she investigates Lyle House and uncovers its true sinister purposes.

I enjoyed the first installment greatly.

Sadly, The Awakening seemed to suffer from The Empire Strikes Back Syndrome, aka Second Book in a Trilogy -- that perilous section where, if not handled properly, the story arc falters since not much is happening besides a buildup to The Final Showdown in book three. I didn't lose interest, exactly, but I wasn't especially shocked by anything that happened in this book; it didn't help that the characters were on the run for most of the time, and there are only so many times a chase-and-barely-escape routine should play out in one book. You know how The Lord of the Rings could be sarcastically summed up with the phrase, "And then they walked some more..."*
Well, events in The Awakening could be roughly described as, "And then they were chased some more..."

The focus was more on internal and interpersonal development, as Chloe discovers more about the Edison Group's nefarious schemes and her own squirrely necromancing powers...but even the characters seemed to be in a holding pattern at this point, not quite reaching any firm conclusions or goals. I'm fine with Chloe not achieving instant Obi-Wan control over her powers, but she gets the Han Solo end of the stick here -- she's constantly getting chased, snarked at, beat up, and generally pushed around by the plot. While Han Solo would just shoot everyone in the face, Chloe grits her teeth and takes it. Admirable, but also tedious after a while.

It wasn't a bad book by any means -- and it's probably a necessary one for the trilogy -- but it still isn't my favorite. Hopefully the last installment will pick things up again with a satisfying finish, where Chloe masters her mojo and summons an entire army of dead squirrels to crush her enemies and take over the world. Or not.


*Btw, I love The Lord of the Rings, every page, ever since my loooong high school bus ride days. Therefore, I mock with love.

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