Tag: Kelley Armstrong

Douchelords ruin everything, or, a review of The Summoning

I was and have been in a bit of a reading slump this year, so my friend kindly lent me Kelley Armstrong’s The Summoning. All I knew going in was the main character is a friendly necromancer, and I was ready to be pleased. And I was. But also a little disappointed. Spoilers ahead.

Things that made SiameseMayhem happy

Chloe. Just Chloe. This girl is logical, she treats life like her own personal screenplay, and she wants to be a director when she grows up. It is SO nice to have a well-rounded heroine with goals who doesn’t immediately flop over when she meets her hero who may or may not have sparkly abs (not that there’s anything wrong with that. Boys have every right to sparkle). Really, this girl is amazing. Did I mention that she outlogics the annoyingly smug and stoic Derek, our hero and completely owns him? More on Derek later.

The worldbuilding and writing are excellent. The horrifying conclusion comes slowly, but enough hints are dropped to let us know that something is definitely wrong with Lyle House, the mental asylum Chloe is temporarily staying at after her mental breakdown. Or rather, what everyone thinks is a mental breakdown. In reality, Chloe’s necromancy is surfacing, and the ghosts all want a piece of the only girl who can talk to them and give their souls rest. Naturally, Chloe screams a lot, as would anyone, and is forced into a two week stay at Lyle House or the incident will go on her record. At Lyle House, she meets many interesting people, who may also have supernatural abilities.

I love this premise, because of course people’s reaction to kids who have telekinesis and sorcery and necromancy would be to lock them up. Each of the kids at Lyle House have their own stories and secrets that Chloe and the reader slowly uncover. Each character is respected by the narrative.

Things that made SiameseMayhem’s heart black with kitty rage

One word. Derek. And yes, I know, it’s a controversial opinion. But hear me out. Derek basically spends the whole book trying to tell Chloe that her ability to see ghosts is necromancy and should be embraced, not suppressed. Okay, fine. But do it in a less douchey way. Also, please don’t throw her across a room. Like, yeah, I get it, you wanted to keep her from leaving so you could tell her more about her Secret Powers TM, but if you have a history of underestimating your strength, maybe you shouldn’t grab people in the first place. Also, if you’re really going to wristgrab people, I’m sure K-drama heroes would be more than willing to teach you a few pointers, in between saving heroines and corporate takeovers.

Yes, I know you’re a werewolf with hygiene issues who just can’t heeeeelp himself. And I would consider forgiving you if you offered a better apology than

“No, excuse, like you said. You want me to stay away from you? Wish granted.”

and

“…Now run along and take your meds and be a good girl. Don’t worry, I’ll stay out of your way from now on. Seems like I made a mistake. A big mistake.”

Yes, Derek, I know you had an offscreen freakout, but you could show a little more respect to the person you injured. Because you’re not really apologizing to Chloe. You’re making this all about you. To provide some background, Chloe accidentally lets slip to her aunt that Derek assaulted her; Aunt is understandably furious and tells a nurse. Derek feels betrayed by this. Yes, really. I appreciate that several characters take Chloe’s assault seriously. Unfortunately, this solidarity is undermined when one of those characters turns out not-so-trustworthy.

Moreover, an indirect connection is made between Chloe and Derek’s abilities. When defending his brother, Simon’s response is,

 “…He didn’t mean to. If you saw how freaked out he was last night, you’d know that.”

Later, Chloe accidentally places dead souls back in their rotting corpses, which creates a thoroughly awful situation dead and living alike. Chloe and the ghost’s conversation goes like this:

 “I didn’t mean–”

“Oh, do you hear that, Michael? She didn’t mean it….So if I accidentally unleash a storm of hellfire on your head, it’ll be all right, as long as I didn’t really mean it?”

Chloe is now in Derek’s place, having used her powers to harm someone, except not really. Chloe literally had no idea what would happen and was trying to contact a ghost who wanted to be contacted, only to get way more contact than she intended. Derek grabbed someone despite having multiple experiences proving that this was a bad idea. Chloe, even if she did use the “I didn’t mean it” excuse, reacted with contrition, not bitterness towards her victim.

Meh. I always did like vampires better.

However, I did like one thing about Derek. He wasn’t pretty, unlike all the other Edward-clones currently running around in YA. He had acne. He had to shower a lot. I just wish he could have showed some decent remorse, instead of ruining this for me with his douchey tendencies.

Worth a read?

Yes, absolutely. The plot and characterization are top-notch, and, despite Derek mucking everything up, this remains one of my best reads of 2014 (I only read three books this year? SHHHH). With that said, I probably won’t be reading any of the next books because I’m just that petty and if there’s one thing I remember, it is a hero’s sins.

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