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The Calling (Darkness Rising) Hardcover – April 10, 2012
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“This engaging read is plot-driven and action-packed.” (School Library Journal)
About the Author
When librarians finally granted Kelley Armstrong an adult card, she made straight for the epic fantasy and horror shelves. She spent the rest of her childhood and teen years happily roaming fantastical and terrible worlds, and vowed that someday she'd write a story combining swords, sorcery, and the ravenous undead. That story began with the New York Times bestselling Sea of Shadows and continues with Empire of Night.
Armstrong's first works for teens were the New York Times bestselling Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising trilogies. She lives in rural Ontario with her husband, three children, and far too many pets.
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When my daughter picked up The Gathering immediately afterward, I didn't jump into the simultaneous reading right away (I was reading something else). Then she came to me and said "This book is more grown up mom. There's making out, and the girl had her drink drugged." Needless to say, I grabbed my own copy immediately so I could see what was up.
Again, Armstrong takes teen issues head on, portraying realistic social interactions, both good and bad, responsible and irresponsible. The main character has a good head on her shoulders, and departing from stereotypical YA formula, she has a good relationship with her parents. Who are both alive. And pretty awesome. She is open in talking (even joking) with them about dating and sex, and it's clear she's educated comprehensively about sex.
The teens in this book do normal teen things -- make out, sometimes without all clothes on. There are illusions to making out and having sex in back seats of cars. Some of them drink beer, some of them don't. They all make wise and unwise choices, can be kind and unkind to each other, can be both responsible and irresponsible. My daughter and I had lots of great open conversations about how she'll have similar choices in the future, what our values are, what's safe and not safe. We talked about the actual risk of having a drink drugged, why that would happen, and how to potentially prevent it.
So much YA lit avoids these complications, instead glossing over actual teen sexual and drinking behavior. Armstrong portrays it in the book as the realistic situation it is. So refreshing.
Characters are well-developed with flaws and strengths. Relationships are also well-developed and stay in line with character growth. It's definitely a first book - many mysteries are left open-ended, leaving you wanting more. Both my daughter and I enjoyed the book immensely. Would I recommend it for any 11yo? Depends on the kid, and you know your kid better than anyone else. You might want to give it a read yourself first, if your kid is 13 or under.
We start with a tense and dramatic scene in the helicopter picking up right where The Gathering left off. I was so shocked how this scene turned out. It was a heart wrencher but I don’t want to do a spoiler. I must say once they are back on land Maya has a lot to think about. And when there is a repeat of the “almost drowning” incident from the year before it has Maya very suspicious concerning her friends.
I had a few moments of severe aggravation with Maya where I wanted to facepalm her because she keeps making excuses to herself as to why she is keeping information from Daniel. It started to get really old and annoying. I was also I we didn’t see as much of her snarky personality I’d come to love in The Gathering. But I guess that’s understandable since they are on the run the entire book.
Maya is in her element surrounded by the woods she loves, but the rest of the teens are at a disadvantage. It’s great to see them stick together and some of the self sacrificing acts that are pulled are very touching. Even though they spend most of the time in the woods I wasn’t bored at all, but I did wonder when they were finally going to get out of them.
I was in for a surprise near the end, and my suspicions about the possible love triangle were spot on I think. Though thankfully I think this one is being really well done. Now I have got to get my hands on the final book in the trilogy!
Maya Delaney and her friends may have escaped the forest fire in her little island town, but she and her friends aren't out of danger just yet. When they realize the pilot of their helicopter is not who he seems the altercation between them and their captor leads to their helicopter crashing leaving them stranded on an island just north of their own. Worse, when the helicopter started to lose balance Rafe fell out and she's certain he's gone before she ever had the chance to forgive him or make things right for them. Even though the pilot is gone as well Maya and Daniel know it's only a matter of time before someone else comes to capture them, but can six sheltered teens survive on their own in the wilderness without provisions while they're being hunted by trained assault teams?
This story picks up right where the first one left off. We enter into action from the very first page, however before I got into this action packed plot I feel the need to mention that the book trailer for this novel was very misleading about what type of action can be found in this book. Yes the book does open with a helicopter crash, however they aren't stuck on the island where they crashed, they quickly swim back to the island they left in the first place. Additionally while Maya does have one rescue scene it's not as a human and she doesn't go hunting the people who are hunting her. The trailer makes Maya out to be this badass but while Maya is strong willed and independent that's not her character at all. I definitely enjoyed this book. It was a page turner from beginning to end, however I did feel it had some issues. The first of which is they swim back to the island they were evacuated from yet while Maya replays some memory of the forest fire at the end of The Gathering it's not evidenced at all in the setting of this book. There are no scorched trees or any other evidence of a forest fire that caused their whole town to evacuate. So basically the forest fire and all related damaged healed in at most three days which is highly unlikely. Secondly in The Gathering it's made out that for the most part Maya's town is the only one on the island I mean no I don't exactly remember if Armstrong says that in the first novel but she makes a big deal about how remote the island and the town are. Other than a few summer tourists they don't see people unless they drive an hour to the city. However in this novel there are multiple town and businesses on the Island so either poor description of the area was offered in the first book or the setting somehow changed in the second. Armstrong also had another obvious contradiction that I guess isn't really important to the plot but irritated me nonetheless. Haley's cheating thing with Maya occurred in seventh grade in The Gathering but in fifth grade in The Calling so either Haley does a whole lot of cheating or the information offered has been changed which is one of my book pet peeves. Another change that bothered me was between the Darkest Powers Trilogy and this series. The members of The Nast Cabal keep referring to bringing in the Enright witch, you know Victoria's mom who's part of the St. Cloud cabal and Edison Group who by the way DIED in the first trilogy. A dead witch who worked for their competitors is unlikely to be much help in locating the teens in the woods. My final issue with the book is the semi love triangle. It's just in my opinion poorly done. First Maya's only attracted to Rafe whose character gets very little play in this novel. You can see a lot of physical attraction between them in the few scenes they do have but so far in this series they really don't know each other not to the point that would justify Maya's obsession with him. Also while his reasons behind some of his actions make sense I guess his methods don't really make him all that appealing as a love interest. Then there's Daniel who Maya thinks of as a sibling and who might or might not be interested in her as more. At time you think maybe he's interested and Sam clearly thinks he is but others it seems like he thinks about her the same way she thinks about him. If you're going to make a love triangle shouldn't the top of the triangle be somewhat attracted to both options? As far as personality traits go Daniel is clearly a better choice than Rafe for Maya, but without actual attraction between them at least on her part he's not really a good choice for Maya either. If this one follows with the similarities to The Darkest Powers trilogy on the love story angle as well Maya will end up romantically involved with one of them by the end of the trilogy but while Rafe is exciting and Daniel's dependable neither seems like a wise romantic decision for Maya. Like I mentioned this series does bear a striking resemblance to the first trilogy, they're experiment subjects who don't at first know they're special who escape the experiment and are tracked by rival groups and the protagonist telling the story is at the center of a love triangle. However while Chloe's story of being hunted was in a more urban environment, Maya's is in a wilderness environment.
Having given voice to all my issues with the book above I now I feel the need to say I really loved this book despite its issues. For me it was an engrossing page turner from beginning to end. I couldn't put it down or read it fast enough. Learning more about Daniel's and Maya's abilities was extremely interesting especially as they're not common paranormal characters. However I didn't like the vague reference to whatever Cory, Haley and Nicole are. The names offered for their species weren't anything I recognized and there's no one there to offer information on what they really are. One thing I thought was interesting about this novel is how even though it wasn't, it had an almost dystopian feel to it. The setting was filled with abandon houses and they didn't encounter hardly anyone that wasn't hunting them. Armstrong managed to give this book an apocalyptic end of the world feel because for her character it kind of is. Their entire world, everything they knew and understood is ripped from under them in this novel and I liked how the setting reflected that. The twists Armstrong took with Nicole's character were also an interesting and unexpected twist. The first person narrative was and exciting read despite my other issues with it and I enjoyed taking that journey with Maya.
Armstrong offers some well developed characters in this novel as well. Maya is strong and independent. She's intelligent and resourceful but she's quick to judge and often wrong. She's got her share of flaws as well as strength. However I will say I don't find her as easy to relate to as a character as Armstrong first series trilogy heroine Chloe. She definitely a very different character than Chloe, as people look to her to lead them, rather than trying to jump to protect her as they did Chloe. For me though it was easier to connect to how Chloe looked and the world and thought of thing rather than how Maya does. Her character is interesting but I just don't find her entirely easy to relate to. Daniel is also a well developed and interesting character but because of the first person point of view we don't really get a chance to know what he's thinking. While Maya seems concerned about her group she's also a very self focused character and since we're looking at the world through her eyes you can't tell for sure if Daniel's really interested or Sam's really trustworthy. The secondary characters in this novel are distinctive and original yes, they don't in any way blend together with each other, but we're seeing the whole story through the eyes of someone who basically sees the forest and knows what needs to be done with it but doesn't take time to focus on the individual trees. What I mean by this is she's so caught up in her own feelings and needs that we don't get a good handle on what the other characters in the story are really thinking and feeling. Chloe was a lot more aware of the people around her than Maya is so we had a better idea of her companions than we do Maya's. Maya is focused on the goal and in a sense she sort of categorizes people. She has expectations of their behavior and doesn't look beyond that and because of that the other characters in the series aren't getting as much development as I'd like to see in them.
One final note before I give my overall opinion, Armstrong hints that the next task of our heroine and her friends is to find the Genesis experiments escapes, meaning Chloe and her companions and while I'd love to see Chloe again in the last novel of this trilogy I'm hoping that the series isn't resolved completely in Maya's point of view. Maya's a stronger leader and that does make her point of view interesting but Chloe pays more attention to the feelings and actions of those around her so she gives a much better idea of the other characters in the novel. I'm hoping that after the upcoming novel in this trilogy we're offered another with maybe multiple first person view points, a novel that offers us some of Chloe and Maya as well as Derek and Daniel. I'd say Rafe but even though he's offered as a love interest he just isn't as much of a major character in this series as Daniel is. Rafe may be the more exciting of the two love interests offered here but Daniel's character has shown more depth at this point in the series. And I know this paragraph really isn't about The Calling or how it was written but it was just a thought I felt the need to include.
Overall despite my issues with the book I'd definitely recommend it. It's an enjoyable and exciting read from beginning to end. Young adult and adult readers alike will most likely enjoy experiencing this journey with Maya, however I don't recommend reading it without first reading The Gathering since the book kind of begins in the middle of a scene which the previous book left off on.