CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 40 . . . . June 15, 2012
The Calling is the second book in Kelley Armstrong’s suspenseful “Darkness Rising” trilogy. The novel picks up amidst the action filled conclusion of The Gathering where the protagonist, Maya, and her high-school friends are fleeing a fire which has engulfed their hometown, the science research run town of Salmon Creek. After mysterious complications on their rescue helicopter result in a crash, Maya and her friends find themselves injured and struggling to survive the wilderness of Vancouver Island. As part of a trilogy, book two is where the main conflict emerges and readers find the teen characters from the first novel on the run from a mysterious group of adults set on capturing them. The teen characters are further developed in this story as they come to uncover the mysterious experiment of which they are all a part.After the helicopter crash, Maya finds herself on the road to survival with friends from her hometown, including Daniel, Sam, Corey, Haley, Nicole and her dog Kenjii. On their journey, the teens discover that they each possess supernatural powers. They come to discover that they were all part of a research project of resurrecting supernatural beings, a project that was run by the St. Cloud Corporation, the company that ran the town of Salmon Creek. The most developed powers are revealed in Daniel who carries a demon-hunter gene which lets him know when they are in the presence of danger. Maya carries a shape-shifting gene which is also marked by her paw print birthmark. In The Calling, Maya attempts to understand her transforming powers and what she can do when she transforms into a cougar. She shares this trait with Rafe and his sister Annie. Teen readers keen on the romantic element from the first novel can also look forward to Maya and Rafe’s relationship developing further in this story.
In The Calling, many secrets relating to Maya and her hometown are revealed. The novel revolves around Maya and friends outrunning and outwitting the group of individuals (one of whom is Maya’s biological father that she has never known) intent on capturing them. Through a series of narrow escapes, Maya and her friends piece together the secrets of their existence and how they came to live the lives they had in Salmon Creek. They come to learn about the corporations responsible for their existence and learn about their past and how their families came to be involved in the experiment. The novel is an overall culmination of all the details of the first novel where it is revealed that their scientific research hometown is not what it originally seemed to be. Maya also matures as a character in this novel as she comes to realize that people aren’t always who or what they appear to be. In her journey through the wilderness, Maya begins to realize whom she can trust as she comes to question her perceptions of the people she grew up knowing. This is especially evident when she comes to piece together how her best friend Serena was drowned, a mystery that is carried over from The Gathering.
The Calling will appeal to teen readers who enjoy supernatural series full of mystery and suspense. Readers will likely be more interested in reading The Calling if they have already read The Gathering because the novel uncovers many important details about the characters’ lives that were introduced in the first novel. The Gathering was an introduction to the characters and the significance of Salmon Creek. The Calling is where the characters face the conflict of being on the run while uncovering why they are in danger and who is after them. Armstrong does not spend time reintroducing her characters and where they come from in a way that will satisfy readers who have not read The Gathering. The conclusion to The Calling answers many questions that remained unanswered in the first novel and also has a more satisfactory ending than the first book. Once again, readers have to wait until the next and concluding novel in order to see what happens to Maya and friends as they continue to seek further answers that will justify their supernatural lives.
Vasso Tassiopoulos is a graduate of the Master of Arts program in Children’s Literature at the University of British Columbia and currently works in an assortment of childcare settings in Toronto, ON.
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