Review: “Awakened”

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The newest book in P.C. and Kristin Cast’s wildly successful House of Night series was released January 4th of this year. Awakened picked the story up right where the last book, Burned, left off. If you haven’t read this series, be warned that there will be some discussion of the overall plots that might give some important secrets away (and most likely will be a little confusing!).

Here’s a summary: Zoey’s back from the otherworld, her soul intact. She is feeling the need to remain on the island where she has been, to recover and build up her stamina and her soul for the next battle with Neferet and Kalona. But then tragedy back home forces her to return and confront her enemy. That is the core of the book. There are some other plots that are happening though, particularly the one between Stevie Rae and Rephaim, which add more richness and depth to the basic story arc.

I have mixed feelings about this series as of late. I have been following The House of Night novels from the beginning, and overall I have enjoyed them.  Lately, though, these stories feel like they went from wow, power-packed plotlines, to a drawing out of what story remains. The climax in Awakened didn’t feel quite right. It seems like all the pieces were there, but somehow the story still felt lacking. It just didn’t move me and captivate me like a good climax should.

Something else that has bugged me is the change in the books being solely from Zoey’s point of view, to switching around to other characters. The first five books were Zoey only, and then in book six it switched to include others. Thinking back, around book six is where I started to feel the books getting weaker for me. I know that where the storyline is, it helps to be able to switch into other characters’ minds, but I felt like there was more impact when the tale was presented from the view of the protagonist only.

On a more positive note I will say that there were some interesting surprises in Awakened that I didn’t see coming. Two characters die, and something remarkable and unexpected happens with Rephaim, which was a great twist in the story. Plus, the characters and their voices are still going strong—the authors definitely know their characters inside and out, and they stay true to the voices they have established in previous books.

I enjoyed these stories enough to continue to read them, and I’m sure I’ll follow them through to the end of the series. There are supposed to be nine books total, and this was book eight, so it won’t be too-long a wait. With the past few books becoming a bit less-impressive, I’m curious as to what the authors are planning on doing to end everything. It isn’t necessarily with anticipation though that I’ll await the next book. Well, maybe I will a little, but only because it is the final book in the series and I’m more interested in how they will wrap everything up more than anything else.

I would recommend this series to someone who wants an interesting coming of age vampire story. Although I will warn them that even though each book is good, the latter ones just don’t hold a candle to the first four or five in the series. I like books that have regular beginnings and then are swept up into huge plots, which after an even larger climax come down again to a calm simmer, waiting for the next book where it happens all over again. I enjoy that roller-coaster ride. I do think that is what the writers were striving for in Awakened, but I feel like their huge dips were actually a little tepid in reality. There are some appealing bumps, just don’t expect them to take your breath away. Having said that, there was enough interesting stuff in Awakened that it was worth my time, and I don’t regret having read it.

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