Monday, September 24, 2012

Review: The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong (Darkest Powers #1)

Story Synopsis

 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 on the day that 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 might be more to my housemates than meets the eye. The question is, whose 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. (from Goodreads)

My Review:

I have a confession to make. When I first heard about this book, I thought it was going to be a paranormal romance along the lines of a certain other series which I hate and which will remain unnamed. So I wrote it off my book list and forgot about it...until my fellow blogger Lisa recommended it to me. Lisa's recommendations tend to be spot-on, so I swallowed my skepticism and picked up this book. And guess what? Lisa was right. This book is great. Lesson learned.

The main character, Chloe, is full of endearing quirks, including a stutter and a tendency to see the world from behind the lens of an imaginary film camera. All the secondary characters are well flushed out, especially the awkward, intelligent Derek. The plot is gripping, the pacing excellent, and the writing is clean and fun.

All of these are reasons why you should read this book. But none of them are the main reason why I loved this book.

That came in the form of a five-page scene between Chloe and the psychiatrist Dr. Gill. I've mentioned before that in my real life, I'm a neuroscientist. WARNING: I'm about to nerd-out. Okay? Here we go.

The set-up for the scene is that Chloe has just had a run-in with a dead janitor that no one else could see. Dr. Gill is telling Chloe that she might be schizophrenic. What follows is one of the most honest discussions of schizophrenia I've ever seen in a fiction book, let alone a YA paranormal. While Chloe freaks out over the possibility of being "schizo", Dr. Gill calmly and concisely lays out what schizophrenia is, what it is not, what is myth, and what is real. In our society, schizophrenics are subjected to a stigma that is undeserved. That Armstrong devoted a chunk of her book to pointing out and responding to that undeserved stigma is amazing. As soon as I read that scene, I knew that it didn't matter what happened after in the book, I was going to like it. This book gets a big, fat, Neuro Seal of Approval.

But if you don't base your opinions of books on five-page scenes that actually have little to do with plot or character development, that's okay, because there's lots of other reasons why this is a fun and gripping read. It's several years old now, and paranormal is drifting out of the YA market, but if you missed this one when it was first released, I highly recommend you pick it up now.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Rated by: Blair


  1. Great review, Blair! You echo my sentiments totally (except for the neuro geek stuff. I thought it was really cool, but wasn't quite as impassioned about it.). I really enjoy Armstrong's clear, fun writing style too.

    1. Haha you know me, I can't help myself. =) Thanks!