Monday, April 18, 2011

Review: Awakened by P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Awakened (House of Night)Book Details:
Awakened (House of Night)
By P. C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Genre: Young Adult
Published 2010, St. Martin's Press
Hardback, 290 pages
ISBN: 9780312650247

          “My love, speak to me. Tell me everything.” Neferet went to Kalona, kneeling before him, stroking the soft, dark wings that unfurled loosely around the immortal.
“What would you have me say?” He didn’t meet her eyes.
“Zoey lives.” Neferet’s voice was flat, cold, lifeless.
“She does.”
“Then you owe me the subservience of your immortal soul.” She started to walk away from him.
“Where are you going? What will happen next?”
“It is quite simple. I will ensure Zoey is drawn back to Oklahoma. There, on my own terms, I will complete the task you failed.”
Exonerated by the Vampyre High Council and returned to her position of High Priestess at Tulsa’s House of Night, Neferet has sworn vengeance on Zoey. Dominion over Kalona is only one of the weapons she plans to use against Z. But Zoey has found sanctuary on the Isle of Skye and is being groomed by Queen Sgiach to take over for her there. Being Queen would be cool, wouldn’t it? Why should she return to Tulsa? After losing her human consort, Heath, she will never be the same – and her relationship with her super-hot-warrior, Stark, may never be the same either…
And what about Stevie Rae and Rephaim? The Raven Mocker refuses to be used against Stevie Rae, but what choice does he have when no one in the entire world, including Zoey, would be okay with their relationship? Does he betray his father or his heart?
In the pulse-pounding 8th book in the bestselling House of Night series, how far will the bonds of friendship stretch and how strong are the ties that bind one girl’s heart?
The book opens with Zoey, Stark, Aphrodite, and Darius still on the Isle of Skye. Several factors are adamant about keeping Zoey and Stark there, from their romance to Sgiach's sudden change of perspective about keeping the Isle a secret. All through the book I get the feeling that Sgiach is not as trustworthy or pure of intention as the reader is led to believe, but I imagine that will be a subject for a future book.
Fairly early in the book, a death occurs - I won't say who - but it feels a bit like an author's attempt to cull an entirely-too-long cast list. I have felt for awhile that there were too many characters in this series to keep track  of all of them in a single book, but even with the random death occurring every so often, many of the characters are almost non-existent in this book.
I really like the character Rephaim and what the authors are doing with his sub-plot. He has much potential for  growth in personality and maturity, and he brings a more adult element to what often feels like a very immature series. I was thrilled with how Nyx helps him at the end, as it shows him that good has its own rewards. His presence has forced Stevie Rae to grow up and make decisions that have a great impact, too. Normally Stevie Rae can be quite annoying, but around Rephaim I like her.
Neferet is of course, beyond revolting. Everything she does makes me want to hurl the book across the room - from her posturing around Kalona and Rephaim, to her false guilt at the funeral, to her simpering over the white bull. Her character is actually my strongest clue that the authors are good at what they do. Only a well-written character can elicit the kind of strong emotion that Neferet brings out in me. They do a good job of showing how the soul-sucking darkness is driving her to madness, even to the point of always underestimating what Zoey and Nyx are capable of. I may be delusional, but I still think that Kalona can be saved from this darkness, even though it's obvious that Neferet can not. His actions seem to be driven by bitterness and a hunger for what is denied him, rather than evil for the sake of evil.
I do love that the authors found a way to continue using Heath in the plotline, as he was always so good for Zoey and probably the only "normal" person in the cast list of supernaturally-gifted beings. He likely will have a long way to go with the direction the authors are taking him, but I imagine I'll keep reading this series through to the end - whenever that is.
Many of the same problems that I had with the series early on still persist - such as sickly-sweet teenage lingo,  the condensed time frame of each book, and too many characters with too little time. I find myself wondering which parts of the books are written by which author, as the writing style seems to change sporadically.
I was actually both relieved and saddened by the death at the end, first that it was not someone else dying, but also how it will affect Zoey. Beyond that, there are simply too many characters for me to be emotionally-attached to all of them.  So on to the next book - Destined (House of Night Novels).

The Cover: The man on the cover must be Rephaim, which I love. As the newest character addition, he has the most potential for a great character arc - and he isn't that bad looking, either.

First Line: "A disquieting sense of irritation awakened Neferet. Before she had truly departed that amorphous place between dreams and reality, she reached out with her long, elegant fingers and felt for Kalona."
Not a full minute into the book and I recognize that familiar sense of disgust that I always felt when reading about Neferet. Of course I must keep reading, if only to see if someone finally does something about this hideous woman.

Favorite Quote: "If cats understood technology and had opposable thumbs, they'd rule the world."

Read For: Strong Heroine Challenge, Twenty-Eleven Challenge


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