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Sunday, 8 April 2012

Book Review: The Summoning - Kelley Armstrong

Published July 1 2008 by Harper Collins
Book description:

My name is Chloe Saunders and my life will never be the same again. All I wanted was to make friends, meet boys, and keep on being ordinary. I don’t even know what that means anymore. It all started the day I saw my first ghost — and the ghost saw me.

Now there are ghosts everywhere and they won’t leave me alone. To top it all off, I somehow got myself locked up in Lyle House, a “special home” for troubled teens. Yet the home isn’t what it seems. Don’t tell anyone, but I think there may be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, which side are they on? It’s up to me to figure out the dangerous secrets behind Lyle House . . . before its skeletons come back to haunt me.

Well, it's been a long time since I've actually read this book from the beginning to the end. Usually I would read only my favorite parts, but due to forbidding myself from going to the library until my exams end, I have nothing else to read but those from my personal bookshelf. So why not choose my favorite YA series? Besides, I loved this series so much and I've read it a lot, so I decided that it definitely deserved a review from me, especially since this book isn't that well known in the YA fiction section. There was also the excuse that I could definitely refresh myself with the characters since I get the feeling that they're starting to go out of character in my fanfics, but again that's just an excuse. Simply put, I just wanted a reason to re-read it, since it's just that good.

I can't say that this review will be non-spoilery, since there's just so much information, but I'll give it a shot.

The book starts off with our narrator and protagonist, Chloe, dreaming of an event that had possibly happened in the past, which concerned a toddler, a dark basement and "boogeymen". But that's just a dream, right? Because boogeymen don't exist. Well, we'll find out soon enough.

The girl who has a normal life so far suddenly wakes up one day to discover that she sees ghosts everywhere. Some who are just passing through while others are chasing after her, demanding to talk to her. Of course, that's a sign of a mental breakdown and as her luck would have it, Chloe gets sent to a Lyle House, a group home for disturbed teens, under the diagnosis of schizophrenia. To make things worse, there's a ghost at that house who would also like to talk to her. But does he actually exist? Or is he just a figment of her imagination? Soon Chloe realizes that there's a lot more that's going on around her and that she has to uncover the truth to get out of it.

When I read that it was about a necromancer, I was a little surprised since not a lot of female protagonists were necromancers, so that piqued my curiosity. Not to mention the whole "mysterious group home" aspect. And why did Chloe's powers suddenly decide to manifest? Lots of good questions. Even though it wasn't the fastest-paced book that I've read, it was quite fast. Enough that I couldn't put it down. Not to mention all the suspense that kept nagging at you to find out what happens. When I first read it, I recall reading into the very late night, or the very early morning and thinking once the book was over, I had to get the second one ASAP. And I did. The very next day to be exact.

The plot itself was very suspenseful. There were so many questions that I wanted to find the answers to. Why was the ghost at the group home so insistent on talking to her? What was up with all the weird residents? Especially Derek, the creepy (or so I thought in the first place) guy who threw the word, "necromancer", at her face? Obviously, ghosts weren't real, so he's just mental, right? When her friend Liz was transferred, why couldn't Chloe talk to her? Time passed so quickly without me realizing it because I was just that absorbed into the book.

I loved the characters that Kelley introduced in this series. Chloe is a girl who dreams of having a normal life but never realized that she already had one. Losing her mom at the age of 5, being the rich kid who was in the drama stream but didn't want to be an actor. Moving from school to school, always being the new kid. At the very least, it's more normal than being diagnosed as schizophrenic and being thrown into a group home, with no sight of release. What really made me love Chloe was the fact that despite being a sheltered art student, she wasn't afraid of taking crap and dishing it right back. Instead of waiting and praying for rescue, she takes matters into her own hands and questions every suspicious event that comes her away. Not to mention standing up against a really tall, intimidating and rude guy and refusing to back down. If I had to cast her, I'd probably pick AnnaSophia Robb (from Bridge to Terabithia look..but with more of a hint of red in her hair). Cute, short and looks young for her age:

Another honorable mention would be Simon Bae who is half-swedish and half-korean with dark blond messy hair that is spiked. He's a very cute and charming guy and is typically the sort of guy that a girl would have a crush on, because he's the type of guy who looks after you and always makes sure to include you in whatever he's doing. Which is not surprising when Chloe does take a liking to him and vice-versa. When I picture Simon, I like to think of him as Kim Bum (yes, the one from Boys Over Flowers, but his character is super smooth and he's really good at being a player). He's a little old to play the part, but if he was younger, then he would be perfect... just add the dark blond hair.

Don't forget Victoria (Tori) Enright, the typical mean girl. At Lyle House, she's super possessive of Simon despite his disinterest and holds that against Chloe. The two of them get off to a rocky relationship and it doesn't really improve by the end of this book when she goes for a dangerous tactic that could have seriously injured Chloe. I don't really have an actress planned for her, but she is tall (about 5'6), slender and has cropped short dark hair.

Last but not least, Derek Souza. Ah Derek. There's so much that I can say about this character. Well, let's start off with a description. His actual height is never revealed, but it's definitely six-something feet. His shoulders are as wide as a doorway and even though his build is a big as an adult's, he couldn't be mistaken as one. And upon meeting him for the first time, Chloe even thought, "His face could be used as the 'before' picture for acne cream." Truth to be told, I was definitely surprised and even almost a little relieved, believe it or not. Because apparently in YA fiction, the guy is always "drop dead gorgeous" with angelic blond curls and the bluest eyes ever. Either that or eyes that screamed "mysterious! Must. Uncover. His. Secrets" at you. Sure, it gives you something to swoon about, but really, after the tenth novel or so with a similar description, I have to say that it gets rather tiring and unoriginal after a while. So Derek made me pause, blink and go, "Wait. What?" then re-read the passage to make sure that I had read that correctly.

But yes, there's a lot more to his appearance as well. For a large majority of the book, Chloe (and probably by associate, the reader as well) thought of him as a creeper and a jerk. It doesn't help that he's rude and intimidating as heck. Derek would quietly walk up behind her and say something that will cause her to jump like a foot into the air. Not to mention the whole throwing-the-word-"necromancer"-in-your-face thing. Even though Chloe was having difficulty accepting that she was schizo, it definitely didn't help that Derek practically forced her to admit that she was seeing ghosts and as a result, she was a necromancer. Which leads to the conclusion that there's a whole supernatural world out there and that Derek must be a supernatural as well. Funny, so is Simon. Click click click. Those are the sounds of pieces coming together to help Chloe realize that there's something severely wrong with Lyle House if 3 supernaturals were grouped together all at once like that. So maybe there should be some re-evaluation on Derek's character. After all, he did kind of help her discover the truth about herself. But still, it'd also be nice to know what kind of supernatural being he was. And it isn't until the near end do we find out. And by the end, his character was just that intriguing, complex and awesome that I liked him way better than Simon, who (I personally think so anyway) isn't that interesting. I don't have an actor in mind for him because he's just that awesome and no one can match that greatness.

I've said this before, but I really did find this the be a great read. When I first picked it up, I was a little wary of paranormal books due to a certain series that has been a little overrated and crazy. Not gonna point any fingers... *ahem*. But I was glad that I did, because it's definitely one of my favorite YA series and made me love reading all the more.

And I was able to meet this really amazing awesome author, who signed all of my books!! THANK YOU!!

Because her books are just that amazing, the publishing company is cool enough to put up the first 10 chapters of the book for free: Harper Teen: The Summoning Preview

Source: Owned (duh)
Rating: 4 and half coffee cups (Loved it)

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