Monday, August 31, 2009

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

Chloe Saunders has spent her life seeing Dead People. Yeah, just like in "The Sixth Sense". And she isn't happy about it. She wants to have a normal life, not be sent to the Psych Ward and heavily medicated for the rest of her natural life.

But an encounter with a particularly violent haunting ended up with her being sent to Lyle House, a home for "Disturbed Teens". The trouble is, she suspected the people who ran Lyle House knew about her abilities and wanted something out of her. The only hope she had lay in the other students at Lyle House, many of whom had their own powers. But could she trust them with the knowledge of her abilities?

Now, some of her friends have escaped Lyle House, but she is under even heavier guard than before. The people who run the house find Chloe's abilities as a Necromancer very useful, especially Dr. Davidoff, the director. And the fact that his assistant is the mother of one of the teens at the shelter, Tori (Victoria) has made Chloe unable to trust Tori. Not that Tori's attitude helps. Because Tori holds Chloe in contempt.

Now, with friends Simon, a sorceror, and Derek, a werewolf, Chloe must escape Dr. Davidoff and Tori's mother and find a way to survive on the streets. For she and her friends are experiments, their genes modified to try and suppress their supernatural powers. Even her other friend, Rae, has powers over fire- and there's a reason for that, as Rae is half fire demon. When Chloe and her friends were betrayed at the end of the last book, she assumed that Tori was the one who betrayed them. Seems natural, right? The girl who acts snotty and puts you down all the time *must* be your enemy! But this turns out not to be true, and Chloe and Tori manage to escape from their captors during, of all things, a clothes-shopping expedition.

But life on the streets and on the run is neither fun or glamorous, especially when you are only a teenager, and you have a million-dollar reward on your head. Their only hope is to head for the one person who might be able to help them- Derek and Simon's father. But to get there, they'll have to elude the cops and the other forces on their tails, all of whom would love to see them destroyed or hauled back to Lyle House and the people who run it, the mysterious Edison Group. But Tori isn't going quietly. She's gonna complain and let her opinion be known every step of the way.

Can Chloe, Derek and Simon get to their destination with Tori's assistance, or will they kill her from frustration and anger before they even get partway there? And will Simon and Derek's father even be able to help them against the shadowy Edison group?

I wanted to like this story so much, but sadly, I really couldn't. First, it's another case for me of finding the middle book in a trilogy and not having read the first part. So, we're dropped in the middle of Chloe's situation. And that's okay. But you'd never be able to figure out the character's full name from reading the book's blurb or the first few pages of the story. But okay, knowing her as Chloe isn't exactly so bad. But not much of the plot of the earlier book is recapped so I had to look it up online.

Middle books suffer from Schizophrenia, and often suffer as the author tries to get from where the beginning left off to where she wants to be for the start of the end. And that stress was evident here, with the characters spending pages arguing with each other- did I mention how much I loathe characters endlessly arguing? and trying to survive in a hostile city (or hostile everywhere else) to get where they need to be. The book isn't completely without conflict of the interpersonal kind between the characters- a fight with a bunch of street girls who are angry at what they see as Tori and Chloe stealing their turf, and another confrontation later on between Werewolf Derek and a bunch of redneck weres who see him as intruding on their territory- and David can't tell them what pack he belongs to, because he doesn't even know himself.

I just found myself ultimately not very impressed by this book since so much of it turned into "seen it before" type stuff. Girl pulled between affections for two different guy friends? Pretty girl puts the hate on you because she can't stand your face? Having to make nice with that same girl? Check, yup and uh-huh. ::Sigh.:: And the dialogue was a little too authentically teen for me. I didn't have the patience to put up with it. This book just wasn't all that interesting or fun for me to read, but it might have been different if I'd read the first book first. YMMV, of course.

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