Desert Isle Keeper
Since I really like paranormals, I’ve been meaning to get into Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series for quite some time. However, my first taste of her paranormal works came from The Summoning, the first book in her young adult trilogy. I got it from the library in preparation for reviewing the second book and I’m glad I did for two reasons: the first is that these books really need to be read in order, and the second is that I loved it! This was a very well-written, thoroughly addictive book that I’ll read again…several times. And it’s certainly encouraged me to finally get a move on and read her other series.
Chloe is an average fifteen-year-old – she’s still waiting for her period, waiting for breasts, and waiting for boys to notice her. Then, one day, things are going well. A boy asks her if she’s going to the dance, she gets the courage to put red streaks in her hair, and, finally, she gets her period. As she’s walking around on cloud nine, an irate janitor starts following her, yelling that he wants to talk to her. He suddenly appears in front of her and the sight of his melted face sends her sprinting through the hallways. When teachers and the principal show up to investigate her screaming, it’s clear they don’t see the man she’s trying to get away from and eventually they subdue her with tranquilizers.
When she awakes in the hospital, her Aunt Lauren explains that the school won’t allow her back until she spends some time at a home for troubled teens. The next thing she knows, Chloe is moving into Lyle House, which houses six other teens with problems. Her roommate, Liz, seems like a sweet girl and tries to help her adjust to the change, but others in the home are less than friendly. Tori, a spoiled princess type, is rude to her from day one and her attitude declines even further when the cute boy she’s claimed, Simon, starts paying attention to Chloe. Derek is a tall, hulking boy who either grunts at her or delivers blunt, often-rude statements. Finally, Rae is a spunky, seemingly normal girl who’s also nice and helpful. There’s another resident, but he goes home before we get to know him.
Chloe spends her time doing normal activities – school work and the various chores assigned her – except for the block of time allotted each day for her to meet with the psychiatrist. Because she’s seeing things that aren’t there, she’s been labeled a schizophrenic and prescribed medication to deal with her hallucinations. The problem is, she still sees things and hears a voice that’s localized to a locked door in the basement. She doesn’t know what to do; she doesn’t feel crazy, but perhaps all crazy people think they’re normal. So, she decides that she might seriously have a problem and dutifully follows the rules, hoping that good behavior will get her out of the home faster. Then Rae, who hates labels, encourages Chloe to investigate the man she thought she saw at school. When it turns out that a man who fits the description died in a chemical fire years ago, Chloe must come to terms with the fact that she might actually be seeing and hearing ghosts.
This was a really fantastic book. It pulled me in right from the get-go and I couldn’t put it down. All of the characters are described so vividly, which is especially nice because it’s written in the first person. Actually, the incredibly descriptive writing made everything come to life – the emotions, the setting, and the suspense. I’ve always been a fan of horror, and there are some scenes that had me truly freaked out. I appreciated the fact that, while this is a young adult novel, it’s maturely written, not dumbed down at all. The pacing was just right and there was plenty of intrigue, suspense, and surprises to keep me turning the pages quickly.
I had a lot of fun reading The Summoning, so much so that I’m surprised I haven’t heard about it yet. I should say that the book ends very abruptly. It’s not even a cliff-hanger, it just stops mid-scene and will no doubt be picked up at the exact same moment in the next book. If that really bugs you, you don’t have to worry, because the second book is already out. I’m excited about what this trilogy will bring, since this first book will definitely be a keeper for me.