Hello, I’m a unicorn. In (belated) honor of Easter, I’ve hidden a second review in this one. Read the whole thing through once, then go back and read the underlined bits…
Awoken is certainly something. A part of me really hopes it a parody, because if not, I’m really concerned. The basic plot is that Andromeda (Andi) Slate, the most ordinary and whiny girl in the world, accidentally summons Cthulhu, and he falls in love with her. Instead of destroying the world with his call, he now want to save it, all because of love. If this sounds like Twilight ripoff #4097, you would be rIghT. And I wish I was really making up all of what I am about to say.
The funny thing is, though, the relationship between Edward and Bella is actually healthier than the relationship between Andi and Cthulhu. The obligatory romance is so disturbing, it makes my skin crawl. I’d be here all day and all night if I wanted to deconstruct all that’S wrong with this set up. Cthulhu (called Riley) is horrifyingly possessive and constantly belittles our “heroine”. Literally, every other line of dialogue, he refers to her as “young one”, “tiny one”, “pitiful one”, and my favorite: “itty bitty one”. Andi isn’t much better. Cthulhu becomes all she ever thinks about. She ignores her friends, and whines about everything even though she has it pretty good. Her high school starts classes at 8:25 for Pete’s sake! Sorry. I know this is a weird thing to to fixate on, but seriously? 8:25 am? My high school starts at 7:30. My middle school didn’t even start that late. I would kill to go to her school. Not only that, but she also whines even though she lives in an economically and emotionally stable home, has two friends who stay at her side no matter what, and is really attractive. Needless to say, her woe is me act gets really tired really quickly. She, like all May Sues, suffers from crippling self confidence and believes she is is unworthy of Riley’s love. She blames herself for everything. A group of guys try to assault her? Well, she shouldn’t have worn a bikini to a party, gotten drunk, and wandered off. She also doesn’t care when Riley hurts people, except when she knows them. In the fifth chapter, he drives a kid insane just for being an idiot. All the kid did was throw Andi into a pool, and ruined a book, but he didn’t know she was afraid of water. Her reaction to his insanity? meh. Allow me to say that again. Our “heroine” is perfectly alright with her boy toy causing people to suffer a fate worse than death.
Let’s talk about the villain, Miss Espitola. She, of course is promiscuous, and Andi automatically hates her for no good reason. I, on the other hand, really like her. She’s just so over the top. At the end, when we get to her “master plan”, I’m really reminded of Glory from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I just wish there was more of her, but instead we got the romantic plot tumor. Since this book hits all, and I do mean all of the YA romance cliches, there are a lot of characters more interesting than the protagonists. The biggest example would be Uncle Neil, who is hilarious. Of course, Andi, being the whiny, self-centered, boy crazy person that she is, always tuned him out just when he was saying something interesting. The whole book should have been about him and Riley’s less creepy sister, Cleo. Cleo and Uncle Neil randomly showing up at the climax was the best part of the book. Even her best friends are more interesting. Vik, of course, was the ethnic third wheel and the non-psychotic love interest, and Bree was just a lot more entertaining than Andi. It did annoy me, though, that Bree’s every other action was eating. Because she was fat. Ha. Ha. Very clever indirect characterization. The nicest thing I could about that is at least she isn’t self conscious or constantly dieting. Also, for whatever reason, she constantly interjects “wicked” into every other sentence, which, I guess is the way the writer is indicating that Bree is “hip” and “with it”. It’s completely unintentionally hilarious.
Speaking of unintentionally hilarious, let’s talk about the obsession with Phantom of the Opera that this book has. It’s Andi’s favorite book and at one point, they even go to see it on Broadway. The way she romanticizes the creepy relationship between Christine and the Phantom is ripe for unintentional hilarity and melodramatic lines. My favorite reference had to be when Riley dumps Andi like the LEGO brick that she is and she replies, “After all we’ve been through? After Phantom?” It’s easily one of the best lines in the book. This romanticizing of the original is on par with the belief that Rorschach in Watchmen is meant to be likable, because having read the original, I can tell you, it’s not a romance. Christine and the Phantom don’t even have much of a romance in the musical either, but that’s a fish to fry on another day. Also, note to self: review the Joel Schumaker movie, it may be flawed, but it’s still one of my favorites.
On a different note, let’s talk about the most frustrating part of the book. Much like Twilight and other paranormal romance, all the interesting stuff happens off screen. Instead of the epic battle of Eldrich abominations in the climax, we had Andi with her eyes closed. In universe, it makes sense, but I still wish I’d been able to seen the battle of the Old Ones.
Overall, this is not recommended. Nothing about it is clever and/or subtle. The protagonist is whiny and unlikable, the relationship is creepy, completely misses the point of the original Lovecraftian mythos, and I wanted to know more about the side characters than the heroine. I had to keep reminding myself that this is not a parody, because everything is so over the top. Plotwise, there were no surprises. Nothing made me take a step back and think “Well played, Mrs. Elinsen, I did not see that coming”. There is plenty of unintentional hilarity to be found, and it certainly is a quick, mindless read. I knocked this one out in about three days, because, even though it is bad, Awoken is still pretty hard to put down. I honestly don’t know why I picked it up at my library, and I honestly can not say I enjoyed reading it. I will enjoy next month, because Ninja Turtles month returns to celebrate the green machine’s 30th birthday!