04 August 2012

The Calling by Kelley Armstrong

Maya Delaney's paw-print birthmark is the mark of what she truly is -a skin-walker. She can run faster, climb higher, and see better than nearly everyone else. Experiencing intense connections with the animals that roam the woods outside her home, Maya knows it's only a matter of time before she's able to Shift and become one of them. And she believes there may be others in her small town with surprising talents.

Now Maya and her friends have been forced to flee from their homes during a forest fire they suspect was deliberately set. Then they're kidnapped, and after a chilling helicopter crash, they find themselves in the Vancouver Island wilderness with nothing but their extraordinary abilities to help them get back home.

Overall impression:  very "meh".  I've been looking forward to the follow up installment in the Darkness Rising trilogy for an embarrassingly long time, but now that I've got my hands on a copy, I find myself...disappointed.  The idea that I had once found intoxicating and brilliant had turned flat; the characters I had cheered for and loved, ambivalent; the writing style that had worked for me before through four of Kelley Armstrong's books stuck out like a sore thumb.

I loved Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers trilogy.  I loved the first book in this series, The Gathering.  It's not like Kelley Armstrong has gone through any kind of style-changing event (that we know of).  So why do I suddenly have a problem with her writing?  My conclusion: it was always this way.  Something about this particular addition to the overall story had me so uninterested that the writing became a bigger distraction than passable irritant.  There was far, far too much telling -- it read like a narrative but in that "I'm telling you this story, you weren't actually there" type of way.  The way the main character, Maya, strikes out to identify the reader by saying "you," as if she were speaking to a reader.  That kind of style turned me off.

The plot was exciting, in a shallow, low-budget action movie kind of way.  The writing would've made it more exhilarating if there was more of a follow-through-the-eyes-of-the-character aspect involved.  So whenever something happened, I just thought, "Oh, that's interesting," but I wasn't gripping the book, tense in my seat.  It was also very predictable, sadly enough.  I'd already guessed much of climax by the first third of the book, which came across as evidence of shoddy work.

Quite frankly, I didn't even really like the characters in this book.  I didn't dislike them, but where I'd loved them before, I was emotionally aloof throughout the entire 300+ pages.  So when something "exciting" happened -- when a character got shot or kidnapped -- I felt no emotional reaction.  That, I think, above all else, was what really turned me off.

The best part was the humor.  Maya wasn't funny in her inner dialogue, but when she talked to others (namely bantering with Corey), she could be witty.  Corey was the comic relief, though.  A lot of his quips had be busting out laughing.  Though the tone of the overall book was not meant to comedic.  It was supposed to be suspenseful, but a lot of it fell flat for me.

I'm disappointed that I couldn't get into this one as much as I did the first one, The Gathering, for which I gave 5/5 stars.  I'm in a slight state of trepidation over the next book, The Rising.  Even though I think the cover is ah-mazing.

"And this clothing is getting burned," I said as I raked a comb through my tangled hair.

"There's a fireplace downstairs," Corey said.  "I'll take it for you right now."

I gave him a look.  "Once I have something to wear."

"Grab a shirt from Nic's room," Daniel said.  "She won't mind.  It might be a little small but..."

"That's fine," Corey said with a grin.  "I won't mind either." (p. 263-4)
Book Info
  • pages - hardcover, 326
  • published - April 2012
  • publisher - Harper
  • genre - urban fantasy
  • received via - library :)
  • rating - 3/5
  • series - Darkness Rising
    • The Gathering | Review
    • The Calling
    • The Rising