8 Rated Books Book Reviews YA Appreciation Month

Book Review: The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

Title: The Awakening

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: April 2009
Hardcover: 368 pages

Stand alone or series: Book 2 in the Darkest Powers trilogy.

Why did I read this book: I loved The Summoning, book 1 in the series, so naturally I had to have book 2.

Summary: (from amazon.com)
If you had met me a few weeks ago, you probably would have described me as an average teenage girl—someone normal. Now my life has changed forever and I’m as far away from normal as it gets. A living science experiment—not only can I see ghosts, but I was genetically altered by a sinister organization called the Edison Group. What does that mean? For starters, I’m a teenage necromancer whose powers are out of control; I raise the dead without even trying. Trust me, that is not a power you want to have. Ever.

Now I’m running for my life with three of my supernatural friends—a charming sorcerer, a cynical werewolf, and a disgruntled witch—and we have to find someone who can help us before the Edison Group finds us first. Or die trying.

The Awakening is the first title in our SUPERNATURAL SUMMER book feature from Harper Teen. This week we will bring you five different books by five different authors, including interviews, articles and giveaways.

Review:

Chloe Saunders awakens after her foiled escape attempt to find herself once again in the clutches of the Edison Group – betrayed by her supposedly loving Aunt, Chloe, Rae and Tori are subject to the whims of their mysterious doctor captives. Derek and Simon are still at large, however, and Chloe takes solace in the fact that at least two of her friends are beyond the reach of the nefarious group. In a new facility, Dr. Davidoff attempts to rehabilitate the remaining adolescents, telling Chloe that her fears and mistrust of himself and the other doctors is misplaced – that they are only there to help Chloe and the others get better. However, Chloe isn’t buying, and with the ghostly help of Liz (a former Edison Group “graduate” who was terminated under their treatments) she makes a horrifying discovery about the group, their experiments, and what exactly it is that they want from Chloe and her friends. When Dr. Davidoff appeals to Chloe for help finding Derek and Simon (under the guise that Simon is a diabetic who forgot his daily insulin and could be in dire straits), she seizes the opportunity to run…with only a small complication. Rae, pyromancer and supposedly Chloe’s friend, decides that she likes the Edison Group and eats up the stories they tell her. What’s worse, the jealous and bitchy cheerleader type Tori tags along with Chloe for their daring runaway. On the road, Chloe and Tori finally are reunited with Derek and Simon, but it is a constant struggle to stay a step ahead of the Edison goons and to stay alive. Together they make a stab for help from Derek and Simon’s family friend, but face a multitude of obstacles on the way to safety. And, all the while, each of their powers – especially Chloe’s necromancy skills – are growing in strength.

The Awakening is one heckuva ride – from beginning to end, there is not a dull moment or even an opportunity to catch a breath and relax. While The Summoning was a tantalizing introduction, an amuse bouche of what the Darkest Powers series had to offer, The Awakening is a full-fledged, action-packed freight train of a novel (Put it this way: If movie-buff Chloe had to describe this book, she’d probably say it is a cross between The Fugitive, with a Harry Potter twist). The physical descriptions of their harrowing escape, dodging bodily harm from the scientists at the facility, and then the realization that life on the streets without food, money, shelter or clothing (or bathroom, for that matter) is no picnic is expertly drawn and makes for a thrilling read. While I loved the bountiful revelations in this second installment, especially concerning the background of the Edison Group and why they are so interested in Chloe and the other teens, it is the tension and revelations in terms of characters that truly shine. Ms. Armstrong excels at creating a depth of motivations and storylines in which things are not always as they appear at surface level, and The Awakening has a number of these layers; friends become enemies, enemies become friends, and so and so forth.

In The Summoning, narrator Chloe is unsure of herself and timid; she goes along with the suggestions and demands of her elders, eager to “get better” and to return to a semblance of a normal life. While Chloe does grow the beginnings of a backbone in the first novel, in The Awakening she completely sheds her shy, diminutive skin and becomes a strong heroine, bravely meeting confrontation head-on, refusing to meekly accept others’ orders without question. Not only is Chloe a powerful necromancer on the run from a depraved organization, but she’s also a teenage girl becoming comfortable and at home in her own skin – something that can be said of each of the teens on the run. As in the first novel, Chloe continues her glib movie comparisons which had my inner movie geek grinning from ear to ear (especially in her horror and action movie comparisons – there was even a Deep Blue Sea Sam Jackson kill reference, which had me in giggles), and also building off the first novel, Chloe’s relationships with Tori, Simon and Derek also are continued here in The Awakening.

Tori, apparently mean-spirited and jealous of what she perceives as a romantic relationship between Chloe and Derek, has more layers than just bitchy shopaholic girl – in her morphing relationship with Chloe, beneath her abrasive exterior, Tori’s hurt and fear are revealed. Even more compelling is the budding relationship between Chloe and Derek. Derek struggles with his raging wolf and human hormones, unable to transform fully into a werewolf but dealing with the physical pain and discomfort at every instant. Chloe and Derek are constantly butting heads, but in the end, she’s the one who understands and sympathizes with his struggle…and the romantic tension is phenomenal. (Team Chloe and Derek for the win!)

Another thread I was impressed with was how each of the runaways try to come to grips with their incredible powers – Tori with her own gift, Derek as a wolf, and Chloe’s abilities to raise and commune with the dead. There’s a particular scene involving a zombie bat (yes, a honest to goodness reanimated zombie bat!) that is priceless. Coupled with the early revelations about the Edison Group, Chloe’s growing power is a frightening thing, and I cannot wait to see where Ms. Armstrong takes us in the next book.

Notable Quotes/Parts: My favorite part is easily the bathroom scene between Chloe and Derek (in fact, the whole time they are in the woods together is brilliant). I have high hopes for this pair in the next novel!

Also, Harper Teen has a fantastic “LOOK INSIDE” feature on their website for all of their titles, allowing a lengthy sample of the book (approximately the first 1/3 of the book is available for free)! You can check out the first 70 pages HERE:

Additional Thoughts: Stick around, as later today we will be interviewing Kelley Armstrong and offering a giveaway of Book 1 in the series, The Summoning to one lucky reader!

Verdict: The Awakening is one exhilarating read, cramming shocking revelations, non-stop action and powerful (literally!) characters into an irresistible book. I cannot wait to find out what lies in store for Chloe and her friends in the next installment. Absolutely recommended!

Rating: 8 – Excellent

Reading Next: Wings by Aprilynne Pike

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19 Comments

  • April
    July 20, 2009 at 5:21 am

    Great review. I LOVED this book, and I really just can’t wait to get to the next installment. There is so much more that I need to know. Who are Derek’s parents? What’s the deal with Tori and Simon…separated twins? Will Chloe and Derek become closer? Where is Simon and Derek’s father?

    My daughter bought The Summoning for herself to read and kept telling me how good it was and that I would like it. So I read it. Oh my! I had to go back and buy ALL of Kelley Armstrong’s backlist. Highly entertaining author.

  • KMont
    July 20, 2009 at 5:37 am

    Ack, ladies! So far I’m not reading your HP movie post, or this one because I’ve yet to read book one in Armstrong’s YA series, and I haven’t seen the new HP yet. 🙁

    I know, lame-o of me. It is cool to see you enjoyed this one so much. Gives me hope for the first one, which is in my TBR shelf. Looking forward to the rest of YA Month!

  • Adrienne
    July 20, 2009 at 8:38 am

    I agree, the 2nd book was so much better then the first. The First was almost a DNF-there is something about Kelly Armstrong and her pacing? Action? Movement? I can’t put my finger on. It happend with Bitten, Stolen, Dime Store Magic, it’s just off? I have been passing around both of them to my book cult..I mean Club at work :mrgreen: and everyone has a hard time finishing the first but jams through the 2nd. But it does deserve an 8; after finishing I had to look up when book 3 came out to see how long the wait was 😆

  • Jo
    July 20, 2009 at 9:23 am

    I’m not going to read this review right now, as I’ve yet to read The Summoning, and don’t want to end up finding things out by accident. But I saw it got an Excellent rating, so that’s awesome! I’ll be reading this later! 🙂

  • Elizabeth
    July 20, 2009 at 9:48 am

    I have to agree with Adrienne, I am part of her book cult, I mean “club” and I enjoyed this read. The first book was kind of a snooze for me but I am not one to stop something when I start so I pushed through it and I am glad I did!

  • Melissa Marr
    July 20, 2009 at 10:19 am

    I lovelovelove Kelley’s books. So glad you are enjoying them too!

    M

  • Bridget Locke
    July 20, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Whoo-hoo! I haven’t read my copies yet, but was lucky enough to get book 1 autographed by Ms. Armstrong. If you’re ever lucky enough to see her in person, do so. A funnier, classier lady I’ve never met. 🙂

  • Bart's Bookshelf
    July 20, 2009 at 11:23 am

    This is a series I’ve seen talked about before, I’m thinking I should give it a go!

  • danielle
    July 20, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    I feel like i might get smacked for this, but I really didn’t care for the Awakening at all. It was interesting and fun to read, but I didnt think it was as profound as you made it out to be…

    but thats just my opinion 🙂

  • AnimeJune
    July 20, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    I’ll definitely be checking out the Summoning – I loved her women of the Underworld series and I met her at a publisher’s booksigning at RWA so I scored a copy.

  • Monica the darkangel
    October 13, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    I’ve read both books and they have made me so anxious for the next!! I love how Kelley Armstrong holds the real world and the fantasy world so evenly.I can’t wait for the third one, “The Beckoning” and what happens between the love triangle of Chloe, Derek and Simon. Go team Derek! 😉

  • Ashley
    November 12, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    does anyone no if there is a movie to the books??????really hope there is i love love the books cant wait for the third one!!!

  • Anonymous
    April 1, 2012 at 1:37 am

    it was sick 👿

  • jasmine adams
    December 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    I love this book it was amazing. too bad there’s only one book left to read i wish it was a longer series so that i can finish reading it and not be disappointed because it ends after the third book

  • Meajane
    May 4, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    this book was amazing …. but if you havent read the summonijg .dont and i mean dont read awakening .great book

  • Anonymous
    November 30, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Do u know where i can read the summoning for free. And also can u make it the whole book because some websites don`t make it the whole book.80

  • Anonymous
    November 30, 2013 at 10:32 am

    And also if u r online now can u make it quick because i am going 2 go crazy without reading even 1 minute of it.

  • Anonymous
    November 30, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Where can i read the whole book of the summoning because i really want 2 read it but all the websites i have been 2 does not give the whole book.

  • Rachel Litt
    November 12, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    Great review! Kelley will be a Guest Author at the DLB Speculative Fiction convention next September. Check it out at http://www.sfse2015.com to get event and guest list updates. raylitt@raylitt.com for any questions. Hope to see you there!!

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