Saturday, March 2, 2013
Book Review: Awakened (Wak Series #1) by Khadija Craddock
I have just finished Awakened by Khadija Craddock. This is a paranormal novel, with a complex and unique mythology. This is the first book in the Wak Series. I want to post a spoiler warning in this post, just in case, but I am going to try my hardest not to give away too much!
*Possible Spoilers Below!*
Awakened tells the story of Alaya, a young track star at Equinox High. At the start of the book, she has just returned to school after going into cardiac arrest (after a track meet) and losing her mother in a car accident. As the story progresses, Alaya notices that she is undergoing some unusual changes, and that strange things are happening in Equinox City.
I enjoyed this book a lot. It was a fresh and fascinating take on the vampire genre, which has been getting a little stale lately, with all the vampire books/shows/movies that came out after Twilight (Except CW's Vampire Diaries, which rocks!). I loved having the opportunity to learn about creation and vampire mythology from an African standpoint, as opposed to the usual Euro-centric standpoint. The idea of Waks, and how they have walked the Earth from the beginning of time, initially having a symbiotic relationship with humans, was amazing. Also, because of my science background, I loved learning about the Lyse, and why they were harmful to Waks (also, Lyse is a clever name!)
Regarding the cast of characters, I thought they were well-developed and interesting. Everyone was written with shades of grey, which I absolutely loved. Alaya was a great main character, because she was amazing, but at the same time, conflicted and flawed. Additionally, I liked Bataar, Octavius, Amina, and Tori. Of these four, I wished I could have learned more about Bataar and Amina. I felt that I didn't know them very well at the end of the book, especially Amina. I remain a little uncertain about Shemroy. I liked him at times, but I felt like his personality wasn't completely solidified. I do realize that due to the events of the book, he changed as his relationship with Alaya changed. I didn't like the flirty character very much at the beginning. Then, towards the middle of the book, I loved him. Subsequently, after the awakening, I didn't like him as much, because I felt like he became a little bit of a doormat. I wanted to see him retain a little bit of independence. Mr. Lomai is another character I feel a little conflicted about. He seemed very nice, and I do realize that as a fellow Wak, his relationship with Alaya is not necessarily a student-teacher relationship, but it still felt a little inappropriate to me. Perhaps in book 2, outside of the school setting, it would work better. Regardless of my feelings about their friendship, I liked the character, and would like to see more of him.
In terms of pacing, the prologue definitely drew me in! After this, however, the story slowed down a bit. Then, about 1/4 of the way through the book, it kicked up again. This initial slow pacing was a little frustrating to me, because I just wanted to delve into the mythology. It was a little tough to see Alaya go through the motions during school, and acting like a normal girl, when I knew she wasn't and was waiting to discover her true identity. After this point, however, the story was really fast-paced, which I loved! I eagerly turned the pages, waiting to see what was to come.
In technical terms, the descriptions and analogies that the author used were simply lovely. Many of them were unusual (in a good way!) This really drew me in and made me excited to read more. I highlighted so many wonderfully written sentences on my Kindle that I was soon highlighting full paragraphs. I will say, however, in sharp contrast to this, was the fact that this book needed some editing. The dialogue, at times, felt a little awkward. I felt that Alaya did not always talk like a teenage girl, both in conversations with others, and with her internal monologue. For example, I found it a little odd that she referred to her parents by their first names.
With regards to the plot, there were so many surprises! The author did a good job of keeping me guessing. Nothing at all was obvious to me. The ending especially was a definite surprise, with the truth about a certain character coming to light. This was sad, because I loved the character very much, and I was completely hoodwinked! The book ended on a cliffhanger. Typically, with books in a series, I get a little frustrated with such abrupt endings. I prefer each book to be somewhat of a standalone novel, yet keep the reader interested enough to pick up book two. However, I think that the author did succeed in doing this. The book explained enough, and I felt that there was a conclusion, of sorts. Despite my general dislike of such big cliffhangers, the ending was really good, and I can't really complain! I am definitely looking forward to seeing where the Wak Series takes us next.
In sum, this was a fun read. The concept was unique, intriguing, and reasonably well-executed. With editing and improved pacing, the novel would be even better. Lovers of the paranormal genre, as well as readers interested in mythology from around the world, would enjoy this book. I am glad I got the chance to read this, and look forward to seeing more of the author's work.
My Rating: 4 Stars