On one of my recent trips to the library, I saw both of these books sitting together on a shelf and the covers spoke to me.  They are just so pretty!  I decided to take them home, and what do you know, I actually enjoyed them both!  Since I am discussing both books, this post may have minor spoilers for the first book. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

These books (the first two in a trilogy, the third of which I hope to read soon) are narrated by fifteen-year-old Chloe Saunders, who in the beginning of The Summoning is sent to a home for troubled teens, Lyle House.  At Lyle House, she meets brothers Simon and Derek, and the girls in the house, who include her roommate Rae and mean girl Tori.  About halfway through the book, Chloe begins to understand (with the help of some of the other kids) that she is a necromancer, meaning she can talk to and summon dead people.  She also learns that Derek has some sort of condition that gives him superhuman strength, and that Simon has the ability to do magic.  They, along with Rae, hatch a plan to escape from Lyle House, and The Summoning ends with their escaping and being chased by their caretakers.  The Awakening picks up right at that point, and the majority of the second book focuses on their adventures as they run from the people at Lyle, who they understand to be trying to capture them for their special powers, not simply because they are “troubled teens”.

Young Adult paranormal fiction is all the rage these days, and to be honest I haven’t been involved too heavily in reading this genre, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed these two novels.  Kelley Armstrong managed to fully develop her characters, to turn them into teens I could relate to and even like, even though I have nothing in common with them.  Chloe’s journey was completely believable – in the beginning, she thought she was a mostly normal teenager and while she knew she wasn’t schizophrenic (what the doctors told her), she thought there was something weird going on in her brain.  Her gradual understanding of what she is, a necromancer, and what she has the ability to do, rang true to me.  She went from disbelief to shock to understanding to acceptance, and Armstrong did a brilliant job developing that portion of her character.  In general, Chloe was a fantastic narrator and a great character I could really get on board with.

What I loved about this novel, and what made it stand apart from other paranormal YA stuff that I’ve read, is there was no love story as the center of the novel.  A bit of teen angst, yes, but not really related to falling in love with the wrong person, “he loves me, he loves me not” games, etc.  While there ends up being a sort of love triangle by the end of the second book, it’s not so much a love triangle as more of a crush triangle.  I understand that something had to develop between these characters (the boys are cute, after all, and Chloe may be a necromancer but she still has a pulse), but I am happy that it took so long for Armstrong to develop it.  It felt authentic and I am interested to see where it goes.

Also, the adventures in these books were paced very well.  Armstrong both gave the characters realistic obstacles and gave the reader enough action to keep interested.  As in most books that rely on action, everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong, but in a way that made sense.  She kept me turning pages long after I told myself I had to put the book down, and also I was kept guessing at what would happen next, there was not much predictability here.  Which of course, I love!

The Summoning and The Awakening are two very entertaining works of young adult paranormal fiction.  I highly recommend these novels – not only will you be kept engaged and on the edge of your seat, but you might just fall in love with the characters too!  I personally can’t wait to read the third book in this trilogy.