TEEN LIBRARIAN'S REVIEW:
I'm back to reviewing books after taking some time off for our summer reading program. Even better, I'm back with a great book, Kelley Armstrong's "The Awakening," the second book in the "Darkest Powers" series. If you missed the first book, "The Summoning," you'll definitely want to start there, because "The Awakening" assumes you already know everything that happened to Chloe Saunders, our budding teen necromancer, once she was sent to Lyle House, the mysterious group home for "troubled" teens with supernatural powers.
"The Awakening" starts off the very morning after Chloe's ill-fated escape from Lyle House. She's been recaptured by the Edison Group and seemingly betrayed by her Aunt Lauren, while pals Simon and Derek are still on the lam. What follows is mostly an extended chase sequence, in which Chloe and bitchy, spoiled housemate Tori outsmart the bad guys, meet up with the boys, and go on the run to find Simon's dad, a fairly powerful wizard in his own right.
What works here? Interestingly, while reading "The Awakening," I got caught up in the breathless pace and near-constant action and tension. Looking back, I realized just about nothing of substance had occurred! I mean that as a compliment to author Kelley Armstrong, because, almost by definition, the middle book in a trilogy must act as a bridge, setting the stage for the big climax in book three; here, Armstrong hides that intrinsic plot stagnation behind strong writing, cool twists and betrayals, surprisingly complex character development, and a drumbeat pace.
Yes, we do get some crumbs of information about the Edison Group and a bit of back story on demi-demons, but, for the most part, this is a standard chase story that lays the groundwork for a final showdown. Granted, the folks doing the chasing range from witches to werewolves, with a smattering of street toughs thrown in between to spice things up. I don't care. I loved nearly every second of this book; loved how we learned more about Chloe and the smart, brooding, protective Derek; loved how their relationship evolved; loved how the kids were believably smart and creative in staying one step ahead of their pursuers; loved the spooky reanimated corpses (hello, BATS!); loved the paranormal elements (hello, talking ghosts!); loved the creepy, weirdly paternalistic Dr. Lyle … in other words, I loved it! 🙂
Aside from some of the scary, otherwordly stuff, there's nothing offensively harsh here. I'd say "The Awakening" is a great late middle school choice, particularly for those readers who, like me, feel the vampire genre has played itself out. I think you'll get a kick out of this one. Enjoy!