The Reckoning: The Darkest Powers #3 (2010), by Kelly Armstrong

This review was first published in Resource Links Magazine, “Canada’s national journal devoted to the review and evaluation of Canadian English and French resources for children and young adults.” It appears in volume 16.1.

The Reckoning

This book is deceiving.  The cover illustration, the title, and the cover blurb all suggest another lame vampire–werewolf–powerless-female triad, so wrapped up in their teenaged angst and hormones that they leave no room for plot or character development.  Not so.  The Reckoning is the third in a series (I hope a series, not a trilogy, although the jacket descriptions use both terms) that is stay-up-to-all-hours gripping.
My one criticism is that the author does not seem to know how to end a story.  Book One, The Summoning (2008) leaves the protagonists separated, captured by their enemies, with no general plan; Book Two, The Awakening (2009), reunites the protagonists then leaves them preparing to infiltrate their enemies’ secret lab; Book Three, The Reckoning (with which we are most concerned) leaves the protagonists more stable in their relationships with one another, and now—finally—aware of who is really on which side, but nonetheless begs for another sequel: the last lines are “We had a lot of work ahead of us, but a lot of adventures, too.  I was sure of that” (389).  I understand how readers, once they become involved in the characters’ lives, are loath to part from a friend, but I really miss a well-structured novel, one like Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird (1960), or Margaret Craven’s I Heard the Owl Call My Name (1967): novels that have something to say, and say it within the confines of a narrative progression that provides closure, leaving the reader satisfied that life goes on, but this story has been told.  This, it seems, is not the way of the future…
Narrative overflow aside, the characters in Armstrong’s novels seem honest and authentic representations of teens with difficulties that they are only beginning to understand.  The level of sexual attraction is minimal—as befits early teenagers—and grows during the course of the narrative.  The lessons they learn, however accentuated by the severity of their situation, can easily be translated into young adults’ lives: be careful who you trust; the most friendly person is not always the most honest; know your strengths and weaknesses; take responsibility for your own actions and decisions; exercise your agency; bystanders can get hurt as well.  These are general lessons about navigating the world, wrapped up in a mystical fantasy set in contemporary USA.  Armstrong writes well, and balances the real with the surreal admirably.  I do hope I am right about that sequel…


One comment on “The Reckoning: The Darkest Powers #3 (2010), by Kelly Armstrong

  1. […] The Reckoning: The Darkest Powers #3 (2010), by Kelly Armstrong ( Share this:ShareTwitterFacebookLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Filed under Teen Book Reviews and tagged Adolescence, Arts, Awakening, Chloe, Ghost, High school, Summoning, Supernatural, teen girl writing NJ New Jersey Montclair creative wriitng | Leave a comment […]

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