Tag Archives: ghosts

Review: The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

3 Jun

Series: Darkest Powers, book #3

Published: April 6th 2010 by Orbit

Details: Paperback, 400 pages

My Rating: 3/5

My Summary:

Final conclusion to Darkest Powers Series. Chloe and Co. has now got help from friends of Simon’s dad, but can they trust them? I loved the fast-paced read and watching the romance unfold, but was disappointed with the end. So many threads were left hanging that it felt more like a middle book than the end to a trilogy. All in all good, but not great.

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A few chapters in:

It’s been some time since I read the other two books in the trilogy Darkest Powers and while I can’t say I remember everything about the plot (the details are a bit fuzzy), I do remember that I liked the books. Well enough to want to get this final installment.

A quick check on GoodReads (currently4.3) tells me that it has received great praise, so I’m probably in for an exciting conclusion to the series! Looking forward to get some answers to my questions, and of course to see who Chloe ends up with, whether that be Simon or Derek?

So I’m now a few chapters in. As you may recall, in the end of The Awakening, Chloe and her friends (Simon, Derek and Tori) found themselves saved from the Edison Group ambush by Andrew, who is Simon’s dad’s friend.

In the opening of The Reckoning, we find them at a place where Andrew has taken them, so that they can rest and regroup. And rest is exactly what they need. Being on the run has (not surprisingly) put a strain on everyone.

There is not much time to relax though. They need to save Chloe’s aunt and Rachelle who they left behind at the lab of the Edison Group. The next morning, Andrew invites over a few members of a resistance group, which was apparently formed by ex-colleagues of The Edison Group when they opposed the way The Edison Group treated their subjects.

So who are the Edison Group?

Well, I haven’t got all the details together just yet, but they appear to be a group of people who offered to help supernatural kids (witches, necros, werewolves and the like) who had problems controlling their powers. Their solution to the problem (genetic modification) didn’t turn out so well though. And when supernatural kids weren’t behaving the way they were supposed to, they were locked in or even worse, killed.

Problem is, this resistance group seems to be doubting Chloe and her friend’s story about what happened, and consequently don’t want to act straight away. Which is worrying, because what will happened to Aunt Lauren and Rachelle if they wait too long?

And this is as far as I’ve got. At this stage, I’m feeling that it is about as good as the first two books, a great and fast paced read. And of course, there is Derek, who I have a soft spot for.

 

 

 

 

After finishing the book:

I’ve now finished this last installment of The Darkest Powers Trilogy, which turned out to be as enjoyable to read as the two previous books. That is, until I reached the end, which left me very disappointed.

But let’s first talk about what was good.

The pace, the writing, the characters. Just like in the two previous books The Summoning and The Awakening, I though the story flowed really well. Not much happens in this installment, apart from the final chapters. Chloe and her friends essentially spend all their time in Andrew’s house. Yet, somehow, I never got bored. I had grown attached to the characters, and it was interesting to see them further exploring their powers.

About half way through though, my feelings towards to book started to change.

Why?

Well, my first reason for disappointment was, believe it or not, the romance. Don’t get me wrong, I love the romance that has been slowly (on emphasis on slowly!) growing throughout this series. In the final installment Chloe finally realizes who of the brothers (Simon or Derek) she wants to be with. But when something finally happens, it just felt a bit anticlimactic. Like, oh okay, that’s it?

I expected the guy to fight it more, given what he has thought about himself in the past. And I expected more conversations to take place between the two of them, of what this really meant for them. But no, it was more like, one kiss, and now we’re together.

After the romance having been “cleared up”, it was time to solve the whole situation with the Edison Group. And the final chapters end with a big bang in their headquarters, supposedly providing us with a resolution to the entire series.

Or so I thought. After finishing the book, I realized that nothing was actually solved. No questions were answered. In fact, it left me so perplexed, that I had to double-check if there weren’t more books planned in the series. Because it certainly felt that way. The Reckoning is definitely more of a middle book than the final conclusion to a series.

Let me give you a few examples of open threads that were left hanging (be aware of slight spoilers):

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1) Chloe’s necklace. What was up with that? I was expecting all throughout the series to get an explanation, but alas, none came.

2) Chloe’s mom. She surfaces as a ghost, and it’s clear that she has secrets to tell, yet we never get to hear them.

3) The group behind the Edison Group. They show up in the final pages, yet we never find out who they are.

4) Tori’s parentage. This was never explored either.

5) Rae. Are we to just believe Rae’s mom appeared out of the blue and kidnapped her from a highly secured cell in The Edison Group head quarters?

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Well, there’s more but you get my drift. I also had a problem in the ending with all the people getting killed. It suddenly seemed unlikely that they would spare the kids (Chloe and friends), if they could so ruthlessly kill off each other. I mean, these kids were obviously a huge problem to these people. Why not just kill them and be done with it? It just did not make sense to keep them in that house for weeks on end, if they had no scruples about killing people.

To cut a long story short, yeah I was disappointed. It felt like Armstrong was writing this great series, then got tired and decided to finish it off, as quickly as humanly possible. Hence, the ending felt rushed, it required a huge “suspense of disbelief” and left far too many important plot threads hanging in the air.

I’m still glad I read the series, as I thought it was enjoyable overall. If you are reading it though, consider yourself warned as this final conclusion does not deliver.

Review: The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

2 Nov

Series: Darkest Powers, book # 2

Published: May 1st 2009 by HarperCollins

Details: Hardcover, 368 pages

My Rating: 4/5

My Summary:

Great sequel to The Summoning, where we follow Chloe and her supernatural friends on the run from the evil people of the Edison Group. Includes some sweet moments of Chloe and Derek together. Not many questions answered though – guess that will finally be provided in the last installment The Reckoning.

A few chapters in:

If you’ve read the first book in this series, The Summoning – you’ll remember the cliff-hanger ending. And it starts just where it left off. Chloe is once again locked up by the very same people who ran the Lyle House, which she ran away from in The Summoning.  So she is back to where she started, and worse still because this time they are aware of her being a threat, and so she is under constant surveillance.

She may have someone there who can still help her though. Liz, her former room-mate at the Lyle House who was taken away, and now appears as a ghost whenever Chloe summons her. But does that mean Liz is dead?

Meanwhile, Derek and Simon are on the run, and Dr Davidoff and his team are eager to find them. While pretending to help Dr Davidoff, Chloe plots her own escape plan, finding an unexpected ally in Tori – her enemy from the Lyle House.

And this is as far as I’ve got, but it’s promising. What I like the most so far is the fact that I have no idea where this is heading. Apart from Chloe finding the brothers, which I assume will happen soon, everything else is a huge question mark. Let’s see how it plays out..

After finishing the book:

So I finished the book last night and I’m left with exactly the same feeling I had when I finished the prequel – I wouldn’t call it amazing but it’s definitely a solid 4, as in, a great fast-paced read.

The plot is quite simple. As hinted above, pretty early on, Chloe and Tori manage to escape the Edison group (which is what the rulers of the Lyle House are called). Soon after, they meet up with the guys. During the rest of the book, we basically follow them while on the run.

Just like in The Summoning the plot trots along in a great pace (neither too fast nor too slow) so that you’re always turning pages to find out what will happen next. Yet there is room for character development, mostly for Chloe and Derek who get some time alone here. As a fan of Derek, I really enjoyed reading those passages. There is no romance yet, but I sure hope that will happen eventually, because they are just so adorable together!

The Bottom Line:

All in all, I enjoyed it just about as much as The Summoning. The only negative aspect was that it felt like a middle book, essentially a filler to provide us with character development and a plot that merely served as an instrument to lead us up to the grand finale in book three. Not much happened, apart from the escape and the final pages, and I had expected more questions to be answered. Yet, I wasn’t too bothered by all of this seeing as I’ve come to like the characters so much.

So, what now? Well, I definitely have to get my hands on The Reckoning – and that quick – as I’m anticipating an even better read there than the first two, what with the grand finale and all – which hopefully (please please please), will include Derek and Chloe getting together!

Review: The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

22 Sep

Series: Darkest Powers, book # 1

Published: July 1st 2008 by HarperTeen

Details: Hardcover, 390 pages

My rating: 4/5

My Summary:

YA trilogy from author of Bitten. About a girl who sees ghosts, is labeled schizophrenic and sent to a home, where she meets the two mysterious brothers Derek & Simon. I’m surprised to see how good this was, considering my view of Bitten. Well paced & exciting. The only downside was the cliff-hanger ending. Make sure to have sequel The Awakening when you finish.

A few chapters in:

After some hesitation I decided to check out Kelley Armstrong’s young adult trilogy The Darkest Powers. As you may know if you’ve been on this site, I’m not a big fan of Kelley Armstrong since I read (or tried to read) one of her books in her adult series Women of the Otherworld. To me that book belonged among Harlequin novels of the worst kind – poorly written and plain trashy.

Armstrong’s young adult work however has received great reviews, and it deals with a different theme than in the adult series. So I decided to give this author one more try.

I’m now halfway through, and I’m wondering if this really is the same author as in Bitten, because seriously – this is pretty good. The plot moves along in a nice logical pace and I like the voice of the heroine – thoughtful but not whiny. And the writing – what an improvement from Bitten!

The story revolves around Chloe, who is a normal 15-year old girl, except for the fact that she sees ghosts. It obviously freaks her out, and after one particularly bad episode seeing a ghost at her school she is taken away to a home for troubled teenagers. The doctors label her schizophrenic, and Chloe seems about to agree , because how can she possibly know for a fact she is seeing ghosts and not hallucinations conjured up by her own mind? Still, she wants to make sure and starts investigating..

She shares the home with a few other kids as well, among them the two brothers Simon and Derek, who both seem to have something to hide. I have no idea yet what that might be, just that there is definitely more to them than we know now.

Let’s see what happens..

After finishing the book:

I finished it last night and wow, I have to say I’m surprised at how sucked into the story I got. I still can’t believe it’s by the same author as Bitten, how is that possible?

The overall premise reminded me a bit of Fallen. A teen girl experiences supernatural events which leads people to believe she’s crazy. She’s sent to a school or home for troubled kids, only to realize that there is something more to that school and the kids within it, than meets the eye. Something more as in supernatural.

Only, where Fallen failed to keep up my interest, The Summoning more than well succeeded. In Fallen, very little action takes place which made it a bit boring to read, and I didn’t feel why Luce should be so interested in Daniel, or Cam for that matter. The book was all telling and little showing. The pointers about what supernatural elements were at play were too obvious to the reader, and Luce the protagonist struggled for too long to figure them out.

In The Summoning, the pace is brilliantly set. It feels as if the protagonist and the reader are realizing things at the same time, which is refreshing. I never felt bored wondering when the heroine was going to make a realization that I had made many pages ago. I also liked the fact that Chloe isn’t walking around pondering which guys like her and if they don’t, why not etc. It’s not like that at all. She has her priorities set straight, as she tells the brother Derek in one scene in the book.  She states that at this confusing time of her life, what with seeing ghosts and all, getting a boyfriend is about the last item on her priority list. Kudos to that statement!

That being said, there may be romance, somewhere along the line, all though it doesn’t happen in this book. I know I am certainly rooting for one of the brothers, and that may be where the story is heading. At first, this particular brother doesn’t seem very likable at all. Then he and Chloe experience a few things together – where his real personality shines through, and Chloe shows him that she can stand up to him, despite his menacing ways. More importantly, she shows him that she sees him, the real him. This is a great case of showing, not telling,  because I could feel a reluctant fondness growing between them. Please Armstrong, let that continue in the sequel!

The Bottom Line:

There is really only one flaw with this first installment, and that is the ending. It ends with a cliff-hanger – a real one, so that it feels as if the author cut one book into two, at a place where you’ll be dying to know what happens next.  You’d really want to have acquired the sequel The Awakening before you start with The Summoning. Otherwise, the ending was definitely surprising – I did not see that coming, and I still haven’t figured out what’s going on. I only have a feeling that it will be an exciting ride to follow Chloe and her friends in the sequel, while they discover their powers in this new supernatural world – hopefully tying some of the loose ends together in the process.

So would I recommend The Summoning?

Yes absolutely, this was a great addictive read. I am so happy I gave Kelley Armstrong another try!

Review: A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb

5 Aug

Series: No, stand-alone book

Published: September 21st 2005 by Graphia

Details: Paperback, 282 pages

My rating: 4/5

Summary:

Haunting tale about two ghosts who inhabit human bodies and fall in love. The love story is not the main theme though as focus is gradually shifted towards the issues following their possession of the bodies. I had a bad gut feeling throughout the whole book, as if something terrible was going to happen, yet I couldn’t let it go. Interesting story that had me thinking.

See my full review here:

Synopsis:

Someone was looking at me, a disturbing sensation if you’re dead. I was with my teacher, Mr Brown. As usual, we were in our classroom, that safe and wooden-walled box – the windows opening onto the grassy field to the west, the fading flag standing in the chalk dusty corner, the television set mounted above the bulletin board like a sleeping eye, and Mr Brown’s princely table keeping watch over a regimen of student desks.

My thoughts:

I started reading this book thinking it was going to be about two ghosts who fell in love. Which it was, but as the story unfolds, it ends up being about so much more.

Essentially, this is the story from the point of view of Helen, a ghost who has been stuck between hell and earth for 130 years, without really knowing why as she can’t remember her living life. She assumes she must have done something horrible to be stuck this way. She is terribly lonely, and the only company she gets is from watching the living people she has been attaching herself too during these years, her “hosts” as she calls them, who naturally cannot see her.

This goes on, until one day she’s noticed by a boy,  in the class room in which her current host is teaching. The boy, called James, turns out to be a ghost too, but is inhabiting a living boy’s body (Billy), whose soul has left. They get to know each other, and together start looking for a body for Helen, so that they can be together. They find that body in Jenny, a girl whose soul has left too. Once Helen is in her body, their relationship blossoms into a love story, and all might have been well there, hadn’t the pasts come back to haunt them.

The pasts haunting them are not only those of James and Helen, who suddenly start remembering bits and pieces of their former lives, but also the pasts of their bodies, Jenny and Billy. There were reasons why the souls of Jenny and Billy left their bodies, as James and Helen soon find out. Billy is a bad boy and white trash, who’s soul left in a haze a drugs, stemming from unresolved family issues. Jenny on the other hand appears to have had the perfect family life, all though on a closer look, had her soul slowly suffocated by all too controlling and conservative parents .

If I were to summarize the book, I’d say that in the first half of the book, I was eagerly turning pages to find out how the relationship between the ghosts James and Helen would play out. In the second half of the book, tension creeps in gradually, as the focus is moved from the love story and onto the issues of the bodies (Billy and Jenny) and problems arising when James and Helen are not behaving as they are expected. Basically, throughout the second part of the book I had a feeling everything was heading towards disaster, which in a way it was.

The ending was suprising, as I didn’t see it coming, but I liked it (it’s positive) all though it does leave quite a few open ends. In short, this is a book that will take you by surprise, and make you think long after you’ve turned the last page.