The Darkest Powers Trilogy
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Supernatural ~
Imagine being told there’s a medical condition for why you’re a freak and then learning that it’s all collusion by a supernatural institution started 80 years ago. For Chloe Saunders being able to tell the difference between schizophrenia and necromancy is literally life and death. Toss in a brooding house mate and his brother, along with ‘Miss Perfect dope-me-up’ and getting out of the nut house Chloe’s aunt dumped her in turns into a race against time and popular opinion – between those who want to help and those who want her dead.
It’s not hard to see why this is a bestselling trilogy for young adults. Chloe is a well-defined and relate-able teen going through one hell of a launch into puberty. The idea that ‘special’ kids are being misdiagnosed with incurable mental diseases that would normally ostracize the average person, provides a source of escapism for teens across the spectrum. Armstrong also takes the supernatural standards and turns them upside-down with her own unique spin on what goes bump in the night. Mix in a little romance with a dash of the unknown and you’ve got a trilogy that not only stands alone but could easily be turned into a much longer series.
That being said, there are enough flaws woven into the story line to see why these are not cross-boundary books. The first book takes an inordinately long time to get into gear. There’s a lot of learning and a lot of questions making book one feel more like a supernatural problem-novel than a suspense adventure. The secondary characters, Tory and Derek, move the plot forward and keep the reader wondering who can and can’t be trusted, but our main protagonist Chloe really is too nice for her own good.
The overwhelming lack of a positive parental or adult figure throughout the entire trilogy keeps the scales unbalanced. I would have liked for more insight and intrigue with Simon and Derek’s father, Kit, to come into play – at least that way the finale of the entire trilogy wouldn’t feel like a modern version of the cop-out, “and then I woke up.”
Lastly, the main plot never changes: the kids are stuck somewhere and need to escape. Armstrong gives her characters amazing powers but doesn’t often let them flex their skills and become empowered and capable. Even though it is obvious that the teens are learning, growing, and building an understanding not only of how to use their powers but where they stem from, she never lets them evolve – they are always trying to find someone to help them instead of helping themselves.
As disappointed as I was with the above mentioned flaws, once I got past the first half of book one I couldn’t put the trilogy down. I became invested in the story and the characters. I wanted the down-trodden outcast to get the girl, and I was intrigued by Chloe’s ability to look beyond herself to be able to help those suffering see their true potential. While I may not read these books a second time, I would consider buying the next book in the series.
Review by M.J. Moores, OCT. Author. Editor. Freelance Writer.
Categories: Book Reviews