This is a new feature that focuses on my favorite series – what makes them my favorite, and ways that they can be even more awesome (because if TV shows and movies are going to have so many prequels, sequels, reboots, and spin-offs, then gosh darn it, so are books!) And, be warned – there will probably be some minor spoilers!
First: The Awakening (#2)
As it was with the Ruby Oliver series, I think my favorite book in this series is the second one. I obviously loved all of the books, but there was just something about the second book. It took all the great things I loved about the first book and expanded upon them, no longer having to focus on setting up characters and powers and a whole world. It never seemed like this book had middle book syndrome, even though I suppose it was just a set-up for the third and final book. I think that’s because I loved seeing the character growth in this book. Chloe continues to have feelings for Simon, but her relationship with Derek starts to grow in an interesting way, and she and Tori begin to bond, even if Tori continues to be a difficult (but interesting) person. We start to learn more about the world, but I think the growth of the characters was my favorite part.
And the Chloe-Derek scenes. Because I’d be lying if I didn’t say that they are a big draw for me.
Second: The Summoning (#1)
And the first book comes into second place, thus switching things up! So exciting, right?
Anyway, this was the book that first drew me into the series, and thus has a special place in my heart, but the set-up can be a tad slow at times and the relationships I love are just starting to develop, so it comes in second place to the second book.
From the very beginning, with a very creepy and attention-grabbing prologue, I was hooked by this book. Even though the set-up of this world didn’t interest me as much as some later pay-off, that doesn’t mean it’s boring by any means. Even when they’re just locked up in what is basically a cushy insane asylum for teenagers, things are not dull by any means. Just a great start to a great series overall.
Third: The Reckoning (#3)
And book three comes in at a very close third!
It might be surprising that the final book comes in first place – after all, the romance is one of my favorite things about this book, and there’s romantic payoff in the final book. For me, though, Chloe and Derek’s relationship was the most interesting when it was building up to something, rather than when it really seemed to be a defined relationship. Their scenes of “is there more going on?” and “are they going to kiss or do something else adorable?” were much more interesting to me than actually seeing them in a relationship, which is why I don’t mind that it didn’t happen until the end of the series.
There was plenty of non-romantic stuff going on as well, of course, and that was all just as awesome as the rest of the non-romantic stuff from this series. So, this definitely wasn’t a disappointment, it just didn’t come out on top!
“Anyone ever tell you your sense of timing really sucks?”
“That’s why I don’t play the drums. Now what’s up?”
– The Summoning
“Why is it that every time a girl says a guy is bothering her, it’s fluffed off with Oh, he just likes you, as if that makes it okay?”
– The Summoning
“Tell her to be quiet, and she got louder. Tell her to stay back, and she pushed me into the line of fire. Tell her to watch for our pursuers, and she hovered at my shoulder instead. Open the door to listen, and she wanted to drag me back inside. Ah. The beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
– The Awakening
“Screw caution,” Tori said. “I’m outta here.”
We looked at her.
“Well, I am. As long as someone comes with me.”
We kept looking at her.
She sighed. “Fine, but when everything goes to hell, just remember, I get to blame you guys, because I wanted to leave right away.”
– The Reckoning
“Derek looked around, like he was searching for something to use. Then he stripped off his shirt. I tried not to look away. Not that he looked bad without his shirt. The opposite, actually, which is why… Let’s just say friends are really better when they’re fully clothed.”
– The Reckoning
“I found something,” Simon said as he walked in. He whipped out an old-fashioned key from his pocket and grinned at me. “It was taped to the back of my dresser drawer. What do you think? Buried treasure? Secret passageway? Locked room where they keep crazy old Aunt Edna?”
“It probably unlocks another dresser,” Tori said. “One they threw out fifty years ago.”
“It’s tragic, being born without an imagination. Do they hold telethons for that?”
– The Reckoning
It’s always nice when the main character actually interests you, and Chloe is no exception. She’s really not the type of girl who should excel in such a chaotic and dangerous world – she’s a tiny girl who can raise the dead, a skill that doesn’t always help in dangerous situations. Chloe could have gone wrong two different ways – she could have been a helpless damsel who always had to rely on others (normally love interests) to save the day, or she could end up being a total badass that seems more like a Mary Sue than a genuine character based on her personality and skill set. Instead, Chloe seemed very genuine – there were scenes where she had to basically sit and watch fights, which she acknowledged as frustrating but actually realistic (because if she had tried to help out werewolf Derek in fighting another werewolf, for example, she would have only distracted him and ended up getting hurt or getting him hurt, with little chance of actually helping), and then there were scenes that she used the skills she did have to her advantage. Chloe might not be the strongest in the group, but she wasn’t the weakest link either.
Derek could have simply been another “bad boy” love interest, and he certainly had his jerky moments, but he was still an interesting and good character. He also didn’t quite fit into the average good-looking mold – he starts the book off as a very pimply, too-big, antisocial genius, and even when he slowly outgrew physical issues and started to become more attractive, it never seemed like that was the only reason that Chloe’s feelings towards him began to change. And, when you have a sarcastic and blunt guy like Derek, you can get some interesting one liners and such.
Sometimes I wonder why I even like Tori, but I quickly shush myself and go back to liking this screwed-up but interesting character. Yes, Tori starts off the series with a lot of issues and certainly doesn’t make a good first impression (a certain incident with a brick and Chloe’s head comes to mind), but she was never a one note mean girl. Over the trilogy, Tori’s character grew and her personality began to change; she never suddenly flipped a switch marked “nice girl” or anything, which would have been unrealistic, but she and Chloe do begin to get closer and it seems like Tori will only continue to grow as a character if we see her again, which I would certainly love. And really, when you look at her family life, it’s no wonder that she is quite screwed up.
Even though I was firmly in the Chloe-Derek camp, it was never because I disliked Simon. In fact, there were times I kind of wanted Chloe to be with him simply so that she wouldn’t break his heart, but Simon is much more than his relationship with Chloe. He’s the upbeat one who keeps the group together, even when he has his own crabby and whiny moments. It’s also ironic, because in many ways Simon plays the damsel in distress role much more than Chloe does – he’s the reason Derek gets Chloe to leave in the first book, and his diabetes is often a cause of alarm for various characters. He also struggles with his powers more than Tori, who is also a witch (well, he’s a wizard, but that’s just a difference of gender), which is another element that gives his character depth rather than turning him into a bland love interest.
Poor Liz did not have a happy life, but her afterlife certainly got better. She got a chance to flourish and to grow as a person and into her powers once she was dead, and it made me appreciate her character even more. She was almost always around to help the group when they needed her and she was quite strong and dependable when she could have just curled up in a ball and ignored her living friends.
As you’ve probably already figured out, one of my favorite things about this series is the romance between Chloe and Derek. The first two books built up their relationship, but it never seemed like a real possibility until the third and final book. There were plenty of moments between them in the first two books, but they seemed to have the hint of possibility rather than a spotlight on them that basically said “they’re going to be a couple”! And I’m glad – I think it worked perfectly for their relationship. In fact, as I’ve already mentioned, I liked the scenes with possibility a bit more than the scenes where it seemed much more obvious. This is one of those relationships where the quiet and subtle moments seemed to surpass traditional cute moments, and maybe that’s why this is a relationship that has stuck around in my bookish heart for so long.
The trilogy already has a spin-off (which I wouldn’t mind using for Surveying Series in the future as well!), but to be a little different, I’m going to say that I wouldn’t mind having a third spin-off trilogy that connects tis trilogy with The Darkness Rising trilogy, like its third book kind of did. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the ending of The Rising could give us another interesting trilogy, maybe one that has dual POV with Maya and Chloe. That’s something I wouldn’t mind seeing.
I’m holding a heart here in my hand
hey, hey, hey
My own work of art here where I stand
hey, hey, hey
How do we know when it’s all going to work
How do we know when being away from home
Makes us stronger, yet I will not stay a moment longer
Life is my creation
Is my best friend
Is my defense
And I’ll keep walking
When skies are grey
Whatever happens was meant that way
I hope you enjoyed the second outing of this new feature! Like I said last time, if you have any suggests for extra components or any general feedback, it’d be great to know what works and what doesn’t!