This is the U.S. hardcover edition.
Date read: July 9th 2013
Maya and her friends (plus Kenjii and the mayor) have been evacuated just in time from the forest fire that has swallowed their hometown, Salmon Creek, when they realize in the middle of the helicopter-flight that something is very wrong, starting with the pilot who is taking them farther north and not south like he said. Now they have ended up with two dead adults on a small island mostly unscathed – that is, except for Rafe, who has fallen out of the helicopter during the crash. Now Maya, Daniel, Sam, Corey, Hayley and Nicole have to find their way back to home, navigating through forests, captors from the Nast Cabal and revelations about Salmon Creek and themselves.
The Calling was a let-down, especially after the opening scene in which the helicopter crashes and Rafe falls out – that heart-pounding, palm-sweating, adrenaline-pumping moment when Rafe lets go of Maya’s hand and says “They’ve got you. It’s okay.” HEART-BREAKER!
So after that dramatic beginning, everything slows down. The group treks through the forest, trying to outrun people trying to catch them – Maya’s biological father, Calvin Antone, among them. They discuss and bicker and finally, after more than 100 pages, the group of teens start to let the whole yeah-you’re-genetically-modifed-supernaturals thing sink in. I found the scene with the mermaids and clowns particularly funny (Chapter 15).
Anyway, I think Armstrong was trying to let us get better acquainted with Maya & co. and she succeeded to a small degree. I have to say the Darkness Rising series has the weakest characterization of all her works that I have read so far (16 books from three series). With any other author I would have said Yeah, maybe they just couldn’t pull it off but with Kelley Armstrong, I know she can. The only character who feels real to me is Maya, and she’s the first-person narrator. And Rafe is the most self-sacrificing and unreal hero I have encountered in my three years of Kelley Armstrong. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Rafe, but he’s just not as memorable as Clay or Derek or Lucas or even Karl.
The plot also dragged on – the whole book is a series of attempts to get away, and because we have a selfless set of characters here, the number goes down after each capture and escape.
Normally I like this sort of “survival story” in which the characters have to figure out how to navigate in the wild and find food and water. The Calling disappointed me by teens drinking not purified water and remaining hungry. There were descriptions of the woods but the rest was focused on Maya troubled over Rafe’s death, her skin-walker self and how to get alive.
Project Phoenix is not like Project Genesis – with PG, the scientists had tried to boost the teenage supernaturals’ powers while keeping the side effects to minimum. In PP, they have tried to re-activate genes of races that have died out – skin-walker, benandanti, xana and sileni, although it is not revealed what the latter two are.
Here is the most insightful quote from the book because I figured myself also in the same category as Maya:
“I’d always thought of myself as an open-minded person. I had no patience with anyone who put down other kids because of their race, religion, or sexuality. But that’s just one kind of open-mindedness. There’s another kind, too, the kind that’s willing to see people for who they really are and admit when you were wrong about them. That’s the part I still need to work on.”
I’m so there with you, Maya. We both need work on our other narrow-mindedness.
So, in the end, I flew by The Calling in four hours or so but I cannot recollect much of what happened. It feels like a long rambling, rarely getting to the real points.