Awaken is like waking from one of those dreams you instantly forget

Awaken is like waking from one of those dreams you instantly forget

★★☆☆☆

(1.5 stars)

I have a small confession to make: I went on vacation the day after finishing this book, and am only writing this review now. While I take a few notes, much of my reviewing is done on pure inertia, and in the last two weeks I’ve forgotten almost every detail of this book.

Rather than chide my memory, I’m going to make a point: Awaken is such a non-event I’m not confident there was anything for me to remember in the first place. Book three of a trilogy, it delivers on the typical era thoroughfare- a long fight at the end, happy ever after endings, obligatory promise of marriage and children- and contains little else. There’s a bit about a Greek god possessing a family line and how his give away is based on polo shirts, but that’s about it.

There’s a nudge higher score here due to the decrease in outright abuse in the relationship (plus, the love interest is dead for half of it) and some fun side characters getting more time, but it’s still a boring book where everyone ends up heterosexually paired and the main character appears to be over her forced immortality thing remarkably quickly. I always dislike immortals in YA fiction and the glorification of it. Here, Pierce, her cousin, and several others are all quite happy to end immortal and chilling in the afterlife for the rest of eternity.

Plot

Pierce is hanging in the Underworld, but it’s even more imbalanced than usual. A hurricane is about to hit her island home on Earth, which means the whole plot of this series takes place over maybe one week. Furies, souls angry at where they were sorted in the afterlife, are still harassing John, and after an incident involving high stakes boat-crashing, John appears dead.

Pierce latches onto a random idea one of John’s underworld friends brings up, which is that the Greek god Thanatos might be holding onto John’s soul and that’s why he hasn’t ‘healed’ from his death (he’s not technically supposed to be able to die while employed as the keeper of the dead). Pierce sets out thus to try to save John based on this random hearsay, as well as buy some new boats for the underworld so souls can continue getting sorted. She’s also given a whip by the underworld, which she is inexplicably perfect at using, and it later is revealed is the same one John’s abusive dad used to whip him with. For some reason. She swears revenge on the Furies.

To do this, Pierce regroups with her cousin Alex, some of the dead-not-dead underworld helpers from John’s ship crew, and her regular friend Kayla. They’re pretty much bumbling around for a while, especially as Alex is obsessed with proving the town mean kids’ evil families were involved in drug trafficking. Early on Pierce’s pedophile teacher from Massachusetts shows up during the hurricane possessed by a Fury, but lightning strikes a tree and kills him. We later learn this was John’s spirit controlling the lightning bolt.

The team heads to a hurricane party at the evil mean kids’ house, where there’s ‘Mystery Drink’ being served. I only mention this to exposit on the ridiculousness of what that is in the book’s canon: the teens are drinking a mix of vodka, kool-aid, and ‘whatever pills they find in their parent’s medical closets’. We need to just cover how deadly that would be. Most medications can’t get you high, for one, beyond that fact you usually need to be on a medication for a few weeks to get any benefit, nor do most pills work when dissolved in liquid- oh, and that you really shouldn’t mix it with alcohol. And, of course, that this is an overdose waiting to happen. Holy crow! Taking more than the normal dose of any drug can easily kill/poison you, and here it’s suggested everyone is getting lit on a mix of random prescription drugs? You would die. You would become extremely ill and then die.

During this party where no one is dying, Pierce confronts one of the teen bullies and realizes he’s wearing a Ralph Lauren polo shirt, and that the little logo of a guy on a horse looks like a picture of Thanatos on a horse she’d seen earlier that day. Again, not knowing for sure Thanatos exists, she concludes he is possessing this bully and makes out with him so she can press her Fury-killing magic gemstone to his skin. This works, and Thanatos is killed, freeing John back to life.

Yeah, that’s a bit weird, all that.

John and Pierce head to Pierce’s house, where she ends up revealing to her parents that John’s a death deity. They take it pretty well, though Pierce’s dad keeps trying to recruit him as a business partner/military weapon. Pierce’s super rich dad is able to buy some boats for John to teleport to the underworld on very short notice, while Pierce runs to the cemetery. Here’s where the final battle happens, and it’s a lot of Fury-possessed people trying to kill Pierce and her crew, though for some reason none of them bothered to get guns; it’s over quick and the Furies are expelled. Cue happy ending, with the extra bonus that Pierce and John are going to vacation in the material world every so often, and could conceive a child while up there.

Whole Lotta Nothing

There ain’t much to this book. It’s a pretty thick book, as the whole series has been, but it’s shockingly empty. I found it again while writing this review and leafed through it to double check events, and that’s honestly all there is. I hadn’t forgotten much, it turned out: there was simply nothing to recall.

This is one of those books where there is not any character growth, plot growth, events, or near meaning. What is there to discuss? Small details such as Pierce’s mom confessing to taking a picture with native American bones in the 70s? How the evil teens’ family isn’t caught for drug trafficking but rather building houses on said native American burial grounds? The way Thanatos was possessing every man of the evil teens’ bloodline for generations for no clear reason, but then he possesses Pierce’s cousin Alex, and everyone’s just cool about that? The fact a book in 2013 has a character who has a ‘partner’ and is obviously gay but it is never shown or explicitly confirmed the two are together?

I don’t know. I was struggling to even think of miscellaneous details there.

This is a weird trilogy. It’s not compelling or particularly fun. Whereas at some points I can feel the author’s charm at writing quirky towns and genuine teen struggles, it is just as quickly washed away by disgusting romance and nonsense paranormal melodrama. It’s a dreary emptiness I cannot quite roast or comment on, only note it isn’t worth anything and is luckily, quickly, forgot.

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