Thank you, Edward Lazellari. Thank you for this lovely break from YA! Needless to say, Awakenings caught me by surprise. I was expecting typical urban fantasy, and though it is both urban and fantasy, the story was such a wonderful, unexpected treat that it has definitely hopped onto my list of book favorites. The grown-up topics and language gave me a reprieve from female YA authors and the brooding love triangle (though there is a love triangle of sorts in the book, just a grown-up version!), and the story is just fantastic. This one’s definitely a keeper!
Two different main characters, people who are completely different in age and lifestyle, both have the same affliction: their memories only begin thirteen years prior. Before then, there is nothing. Cal, in his mid-thirties, is a cop and a family man. Seth, a twenty-something photographer, lives a reckless lifestyle that he hopes never catches up with him. These men seemingly have nothing in common, until a stranger, a beautiful woman, contacts them and reveals the reason their memories are wiped.
Prior to this clandestine meeting, Cal encounters some seriously bad-ass bad guys, beings who are beyond human and beyond his understanding, and unfortunately for him are trying to end his life. Same thing happens to Seth, when his apartment—complete with roommate—blows up, leaving him alone and with nothing but his cat.
They come to work together, and with the help of the mysterious woman learn how their pasts are connected in ways that they could never have imagined. Their future is still uncertain, and they set out to find others like them, part of a group that all had the same purpose, a purpose they are only starting to remember and understand.
Lazellari’s book was a perfect blend of fantasy and reality, urban and myth. The heavy fantasy aspect was a surprise, especially with the way the book started out. Read the description again; does that sound fantasy at all? Definitely not. This is what I had to go on when I opened the cover. But there is a surprisingly awesome fantastical presence that emerges more and more as the story progresses. The gritty realism in which Lazellari writes his main characters was leading me down another path in my mind, and it was to my surprise and delight that a centaur appears, magical wizards happen, and scary alien warriors go on the attack.
Another wonderful feature of this book was the jumping into the heads of all the main characters, often within the same chapter. The author does a nice line break and then keeps the story flowing based on whose point of view is most relevant at the moment. The voices he created are very diverse, and each has a strong enough presence that it was easy to understand the emotions and logic of a character at any particular point. I don’t think the story would have been nearly as amazing if he hadn’t done this. It rounded out the characters wonderfully, and I enjoyed switching into different minds.
This book was such fun to read. There was even a scene towards the end that thoroughly disturbed me, in the best way possible. That’s good writing, folks! I really enjoyed all the different elements, and the tale is really just beginning. I can’t wait to see how things pan out in book two.