I just finished The Awakening, by Kelley Armstrong, the second novel in her young adult-targeted Darkest Powers series. And I basically tore through it. I started it while I was out last night, continued it on the subway, read a portion after I got home and was safely ensconced in bed, and then wrapped it up around 8:30 this morning. Which is exactly the opposite of what happened when I found myself reading Kim Harrison’s YA offering, Once Dead, Twice Shy a few months ago. That one went on my Do Not Finish list because I didn’t care about the heroine, didn’t care about the story, and felt it was unnecessarily dumbed down and derivative…as if Harrison felt she had to filter and distill her writing. Armstrong gives off no such vibes and, indeed, Darkest Powers actually fits pretty seamlessly in with her adult Women of the Otherworld books. It’s the exact same universe, with the exact same world-building, just with a younger set of characters. But Armstrong only makes passing references to characters readers may know from the other books. The Awakening features a nod to Eve and Savannah and also makes reference to the Pack, but lets Chloe, Derek, Simon, and Tori all stand on their own.
In addition to creating a rich, textured expanded universe, Armstrong is really great at getting a reader to turn the page. That’s important, especially in the over-saturated young adult market, where every author and their mother is writing a supernatural series these days. The way The Summoning ended had me on the edge of my seat waiting for this book, and the way this book ended had me, again, seriously screaming for what comes next.
I’m also delighted to see that Melissa Marr has released a third book, Fragile Eternity, which follows Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange. I’m not a huge fan of books about the faerie, especially in an urban setting (I think we can blame Laurell K. Hamilton’s Merry Gentry series for SCARRING ME FOR LIFE), but Marr has a lyrical yet very minimalist style that really drew me in. She doesn’t feel the need to wax on and on; each word is used with care and measure. And, just like Armstrong, her characters are strong and memorable. That’s definitely next on my To Be Read pile.
But to bring it back to Kelley Armstrong and her books…there’s never been one I regretted buying the instant I saw it. ::knock on wood:: The Awakening is hardback, and I didn’t even blink. I picked it up and took it to the checkout, knowing it wouldn’t be a waste of money. In this day and age, where we all have to watch our spending, it’s truly wonderful to know that her books are a good investment — and a damn good time!