Saturday, 16 April 2011

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

5 Stars. (Young Adult - PNR)

What a fabulous end to a great series. Everything that I was hoping for happened in this book, not the least of which is that Chloe got her man.

**Possible Spoilers Ahead**(because I had to gush)

I was so impressed with this last book in the series and the amount of action Armstrong packed into the scenes tempered by still and really lovely scenes between the kids. Derek and Chloe's relationship really took a turn - well a few - in this one, but even when they were really annoyed with one another they still understood one another in a way no one else in their group could. I loved that when Derek finally made his final transition, their communication was effortless and instantaneous. There was no muddling through or guessing games, Chloe took charge and let Derek know that she would always be the one to know what he was thinking and feeling - no words needed. It was such a unique relationship between these two and I loved it. Having read Bitten Armstrong's first book in her adult Women of the Underworld Series which centers on werewolves I knew that she had an immense talent for weaving incredibly visceral scenes when her characters are in wolf form and the Wolf-Derek scenes lived up and even at times exceeded my expectations. There is one pivotal scene that has to do with his transition in each book and each time Chloe was right by his side guiding him through. They were such sweet and endearing moments that really proved to the reader how much these two cared about one another.

I will say that the love triangle wasn't much of one. I don't really know if it was meant to be. Simon doesn't seem overly interested in Chloe until mere mentions in book two and then when they kind of have a date in this book its clear that although he thinks she's a great girl, the chemistry isn't there. Simon can tell Chloe doesn't feel it. I think the fact that Simon is a genuinely nice guy made Chloe think that there could be more between them because she already cared about him as a friend. Obviously though there was a lot missing between them and Chloe's heart was already laid elsewhere. Although there could have been more drama in this mixed up triangle, considering Simon is Derek's brother, I think it was handled appropriately given that Simon really loved his brother dearly and knew how much he needed to be happy - and how much Chloe made him happy. Simon's affection, while seemingly sincere, didn't seem to run that deep. He cared about Chloe for sure, but I think he could see that she wasn't going to be the girl for him. And if he could let go that easily, clearly it wasn't a die-hard love!

**End of Spoilers**

Another character I really came to admire in this book was Tori. In my first review of The Summoning she was the bitchy, whiny trouble-maker who targeted Chloe relentlessly. She was the character that had the most transition. The reasons for her behaviour were clear and I was shocked at the way she was being treated by her mother, and admired the fact that she chose to mature and get past the trauma her mother had put her through - was still putting her through - she's really the character you feel for. Derek and Simon aren't eager to trust her and she knows it, but she's determined to prove her worth and I admired that about Tori. She really came into her own and I liked that her growth as a character didn't mean that she became the sicky sweet character just to prove she was different. Tori retained her snarky attitude but it became a really great element of her character rather than a flaw.

Chloe too impressed me with the transition she made through out all three books. She started out as a really naive, innocent, and overly-nice character but blossomed into a very self-sufficient, capable and take charge girl. She was often the one the other characters leaned on for support even though she may not have even realized it. I really enjoyed watching her grow, and like Tori this maturation didn't mean she lost all the elements of her character she'd had in the beginning. She was still naive - but more endearingly so. She was still overly nice at times and I wanted her to speak up for herself, but she got stronger and told others what she though. I really liked that a facet of Derek and Chloe's relationship was that they were the most honest with one another. When Chloe was at her strongest it was when she was fighting or talking and goofing off with Derek. Likewise, although Derek was still overprotective, quick to anger and hard to read at times, he let it all hang out with Chloe. He told her off, apologized and let himself be totally vulnerable with her. He also encouraged her to be strong, although like any good werewolf continued to be protective of his mate :p

So, although there were loose ends left untied in this books, they aren't the type of loose ends that are frustrating or impossible to stand knowing this is (for now) Chloe's last adventure. Armstrong has made it pretty clear that although Chloe's story is done for now, she foresees connecting Chloe and the gang with Maya and her gang in the next set of Darkest Powers novels. The Gathering takes up with another group of kids forced into experiments on supernaturals by the Edison Group and Armstrong has mentioned that when Maya's trilogy is done she sees a potential for connecting the two stories. So, all that to say that I can understand why Armstrong decided to leave the loose ends she did in the final book. If everything was tied up neatly there would be no story left to tell. It's appropriate for the type of story she's telling because although Chloe and the gang took down there adversaries, they are an arm of a much bigger monster.

Looking forward to reading the rest of the Darkest Powers books and getting to know the new gang.

Armstrong has a great talent for telling engaging, fast-paced, action packed reads with real characters who leap from the page. She writes with sincerity and refuses to fall back on cliches or the dreaded misunderstanding to fill the pages in need of drama. Her clean and easy prose makes for quick books that seem to fly buy. You finish one of her stories always clamouring for the next one!

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