Kelley Armstrong cranks up the action in The Calling, Book 2 of the Darkness Rising trilogy. At the end of Book 1, The Gathering, Maya and her friends have been rescued from a forest fire by a helicopter. Maya has discovered that she is a skin walker — able to communicate with animals and will eventually have the ability to change into an animal herself — and that her hometown has mysterious links to a research facility that appears to be genetically breeding children with supernatural powers. In The Calling, a dramatic helicopter crash leads to Maya and her friends stranded in an unfamiliar forest, pursued by a corporation that wants their powers.
What follows is an action-packed race through the woods to safety. It’s great seeing Maya in action as a shape-shifter. I found the scene when she actually does battle in animal form to be especially cool. Even better, we learn about other characters’ superpowers as well. Daniel has a particularly impressive power — definitely my pick if I could have one — and he really steps up in this book as an amazing best friend. Dear Maya: forget Rafe. Team Daniel all the way! That being said, Daniel and Maya’s relationship in this book appears strictly platonic, but I hope Daniel finds some romance himself. I also loved learning about Sam’s past — her background is so different from Maya’s and the others, and she has good reason to be so sharp and mistrustful.
The true standout, for me, is Corey. I love his character, and I love that the mystery behind his migraines gives a sense that he will be even more vital to the plot in Book 3. Will he be a powerful hero? Possibly a scarred villain? Or maybe even a scared victim? No clue, but he’s a fascinating character with much more going on beneath the surface. I can’t wait to find out what his migraines really mean, and I hope it turns out that he really has a kick ass superpower!
For teachers, parents, anyone interested in good books for young adults, Calling also highlights a couple of important points regarding diversity and open-mindedness. A character is called out for a racist remark, and another character comes out as homosexual. Both times, Armstrong manages to keep it organic to the story, so the book is never preachy.
Calling is an exciting, fast-paced sequel, even more action-packed than Gathering. It reads like a movie — lots of things going on, and you just want to keep turning the page. I look forward to Book 3.