The title is Awakened but it should be Slept. Why? Because a dreamless sleep is more exciting, less tedious and boring, and makes more sense. This is, as a friend of mine might say, a “hot mess”.
The writing did not improve. I was really hoping that after getting one book under her belt the author would find a voice that wasn’t one that made me want to poke my eyes out with a hot ice pick. But, nope. No such luck.
So Awakened picks up where Cursed left off. Magic has almost disappeared but Claire seems to have some. She has a mark indicating that she does. Farron, one of the elves traveling with her in the first book is with her when she gets kidnapped by Farron’s former lover. Claire is taken to Farron’s kingdom and told she is a guest who isn’t allowed to leave. Because that King also wants her magic. And from there, we progress, really no where. The story makes no real progress throughout the book. We learn a very few tidbits of information about those who can use magic. But that’s pretty much it. I could have gotten more from a 20 page short story.
I hate the author’s use of made up language and words and phrases that are never explained. Failure to provide enough contextual details make it impossible to figure out what some of them might mean. It’s hifaling. See? I could have meant “it’s annoying” or “it’s frustrating” or “it’s lazy” or even “it’s deplorable” – each having it’s own meaning and you can’t tell what I might really mean. In this case, I meant all of the above. So maybe that’s a new word for me.
And I am not sure if which I hate more, the made up and unexplained/untranslated language or the author’s use of pronouns. This is one of the biggest and most glaring issues with this book (and the first installment). The author doesn’t distinguish between characters very well. Here’s an example. We have Claire and Lianna, two female characters, discussing something. Claire answers a question of Lianna’s in one paragraph. Then in the next paragraph: “Something changed in her demeanor, softening up. Maybe she had expected something else, a different reason for her visit. She could hardly blame her.” New Paragraph. Which character had expectations? Who’s demeanor changed? There are instances of this everywhere. Any time there are characters of the same persuasion in the same room it the text is difficult to track. I don’t know which “her” “she” is referring to. I felt like I was reading Abbot & Costello. Better writing would fix this. Decent editing would have caught this and required it to be fixed.
The inconsistency of character dialogue is also tough to take. “Yeah” and “I shall not” are thrown together without a though. Some of the conclusions and jumps are ludicrous. Seeing a “hint of black material…from under one of the men’s shirt” is enough to know that the man is with the syndicate. What, no one else ever wears black? Claire is no smarter, in fact not only is she as ignorant as ever but she seems to have such wild mood swings and changes in opinion it could give a reader whiplash. She makes Bill & Ted look like rocket scientists. She is really hard to like and since the book is really told from her perspective and about her, it is even harder to read.
I commented in the review of the first book that the title of the book and the series is confusing. Here, we get “Awakened”. And since Claire was actually awakened in the first book and we really don’t see much of Claire’s powers here (two blue fireballs and the inability to use them again isn’t exactly getting good use of her powers). The other two folks with abilities already have it. And we don’t meet anyone else who gets awakened. So, what exactly is the title referring to? I have no idea.
Then there is the plot. Or lack thereof. We know just as little as we did when we started. Even the reveal of “child star” with no other information wasn’t helpful and didn’t move the story (although using it as that exact phrase conjured images of various “child stars” including one of the most famous, Shirley Temple). If this is a love story at heart, then Claire needs to stop being such a bitch about Farron (although other words also come to mind because of her propensity to sleep with him but then claim she doesn’t even like him). If this is more about the magic and the world building, then the author needs to take a few lessons on how to do this well and effectively before giving the world installment #3. And then she needs to catch up. Can’t believe I am suggesting this, but maybe if the author could figure this out, then she could give us a few e-book half installments to correct the failings of the first two books so far. Otherwise, I am prepared for very little action and lots of boredom when faced with #3.
I usually don’t care about the “rating” of the things I read. Here, I admit to being bothered a little by the amount of sex the main character is having. While we get no more information to help us pin an age to Claire, the assumption is that she is in her late teens. I have also seen this categorized as YA. There is no judgement about having a teen character have sex. That is a key point in movies and books popular the world over. And it’s not new. I remember being a teenager and watching Llyod Dobler and Diane Court, who were in their late teens when Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes became a defining moment for both characters. But the relationship that develops between Claire and Farron, well, it isn’t explicit but it definitely is written to make the relationship seem explicit and yet very casual. It’s a little disturbing how trivial the sexual relationship that developed is treated. I am not sure I am a fan of the author’s attitude and handling of the physical relationship between Claire and Farron. It doesn’t need to be as romantic as Llyod and Diane but she certainly didn’t need Samatha Jones’ attitude about it either.
Because of all that this book isn’t, the best use of this book? When counting sheep doesn’t put you to sleep, a chapter or two of Awakened should.