So below I'm giving my review and thoughts on Serra Elinsen's Awoken.
The story starts with our heroine, Andi "Andromeda" Slate's dream. She has a vision, for wont of a better word, of herself out on the dark rocks of the sea and spying a huge octopus-like monster as well as the most beautiful boy she'd ever witnessed. After such a mysterious dream, she's beyond shocked to see the same boy show up at school and act so strangely around her. Yes, there are definitely similarities to Twilight since he also helps to save her life twice (she can't swim and that causes all sorts of problem in a Rhode Island sea port). However, this is beyond the level of Twilight in so many ways.
First, the language is beautiful. Mrs. Elinsen has such lively and inviting metaphors. My favorite was actually a comical one when Riley's shocked and Andi remarks in her narration that he "looked as surprised as if a poodle had started giving a soliloquy from Hamlet." You can just see the funny there, get his bewilderment. I've also got to admit I learned a few new words from Elinsen's broad and lyrical vocabulary.
Second, the supporting cast is great. Scarlet Epistola makes for a great vixen and evil antagonist, seducing Vivek, Andi's best friend forever and the Indian boy who betrays her eventually while under Scarlet's diabolical spell. Ms. Epistola---besides being the worst substitute ever---is truly a woman scorned and Elinsen makes that pain and disappointment jump off the page. I also love her friend Bree, who is such a free spirit and sassy, not ashamed of her size. Finally, Uncle Neil rounds out the cast and is as delightful an old eccentric cook as you can imagine running the local Portsmouth junk shop.
Alternate First Printing Cover
Third, Elinsen gives us an amazing trip to NYC where Riley/Cthulhu's and Andi's love grows. I loved her in depth knowledge of the city and marveled along with Andi at being given a box to see Phantom. It was also clever to keep that analogy between such a great piece of literature and the novel brewing. The allusions here showed so much of Elinsen's intelligence and skill as a mistress of metaphors.
Finally, Andi. She's a true strong female character. She tries so hard to fight back in the final confrontation with Scarlet and she's also a good girl, the kind who wouldn't be caught dead in skimpy clothes or drinking too much once Riley talks sense into her. I love that Elinsen has given us someone so much more nuanced and amazing than Bella Swan to root for.
BRAVO and FIVE BIG STARS!!!
And don't just take my word for it. It already has 31 reviews on Amazon for an average of like 4.8 = great!
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