167 of 180 people found the following review helpful
A Steamy Awakening,
This review is from: Awakened (House of Night, Book 8) (Hardcover)
The lines between adult and YA become a bit blurred in the Casts' latest installment to the House of Night series. Things get quite steamy for a few of the characters early on, and I suppose it helps to fill the void that such an over extended series needs. This edition mostly consists of tying up loose ends and conclusions from previous books, and finally introducing some new threads to close this series out. Because of this I find the story difficult to summarize, but I'll try.
Neferet is up to her nefarious games again conning the counsel, and deceiving all of vampire kind. But her black tendrils of darkness have pissed off the wrong immortal. Kalona is not a happy camper. Zoey is as ever unevolving if not less mature than in previous books avoiding her responsibilities for as long as the Casts' can afford to keep her from going home, which is most of the book. Her and Stark are strengthening their bond as warrior and high priestess as well as boyfriend and girlfriend. Just for fun and as if there wasn't enough magic and folklore in the book the Casts' introduce a fey element into the mix. I'm sure a magical kitchen sink is soon to follow. Death brings Zoey around and devastates her click. By the end Stevie Rae and Rephaim will be outed, Neferet will be down but not for long, repercussions of Stark's resurrection will start to surface, and the lines between light and dark will be drawn. Choices will be made. And yes after seven books the ground work for the end is finally being laid.
Nine books in this series was stretching it. Twelve is becoming unfocused and scattered. Five or six well planned four to six hundred paged books would have been enough to do this story and it's characters justice. Now by the eighth book it seems to me that the original outline for the overall storyline and individual books has gotten wildly out of control. I think the plan went out the window and the story's being made up as it goes along. The great idea of the vampire tattoos, religion a sort of mixture of Wicca and Native American rituals and mythology is getting lost and convoluted by the addition of the nuns, and darkness, and the bulls, and the fey or old magic, the other world, Kalona. My head hurts with all the elements I have to keep up with in this series. I am disappointed that this great original series wants to become more like a teen Trueblood, with multiple story lines, a rich diverse world, but it's not working, it's too much and I wish Cast would simplify and focus everything. The amount of filler in the last few books is taking a once enjoyable series and turning it into a novelty. The writing seems to be getting worse. I think I would rather hear some one curse than have to hear them say bull poopie constantly. In print it's not so bad, but hearing it on the audio book is quite annoying. I don't think Mark Twain's idea of write how you would speak applies when your imagining what's the worst possible representation of how young people talk. I do understand what the Casts' are trying to do, they just don't do it very well. I don't think you should talk down to a younger audience, in fact I think you should take every opportunity to display good writing.
If your a fan of the characters other than Zoe and Stevie Rae, you will be as disappointed as I was, since their banter was minimal in this installment. We do hear a little about Zoey's long lost family and mom who hasn't really been featured in quite some time. I was not impressed with all the pop culture references and author shout outs. Instead of relating to the audience it seemed to dumb down the story. While I love Glee and agree with the hotness of a certain Trueblood Werewolve, it took away from the originality of HON. Like when tragedy strikes our close knit circle of friends, an unfortunate opportunity to connect with the reader is missed. I admit I cried when Dobby died in Deathly Hollows, and most likely when Sirius met his end as well, because they were written simply and worded beautifully. I found a death framed in the concept of a glee episode and certain Wicked song kind of corny and less than what the character deserved.
Overall I am a bit confused with this book. The authors seem as bored with Zoey's character as I am. She's not developing at all. There is a distinctive shift toward Stevie Rae and her possible role taking down Neferet and Darkness. Her green glow hints at the old magic introduced early in the book. Someone should write a lexicon to keep track of everything, all the different cultures and mythology are becoming too complicated. Though I applaud Stevie Rae's growth her storyline mirrors Zoey's almost exactly. With her having secrets, not trusting her friends to understand, while she's trying to save her friend (Rephaim) or lover (like Stark) from darkness, and a relationship with someone she's not suppose to be with and whom she imprints with. If you feel as I do, that the books end in a strange place Awakened is no different. Because none of the books have that classic story arch with a climax and conclusion you don't get that resolve. Since they aren't really separate stories within a larger plot, more like a long continuous narrative chopped up at a joint in the story.
If you like the other books, well then you'll love this one as well. It's more of (sadly) what we've come to expect from the HON. If your like me and are hoping it will get better, it's not. I would like to see things to the end, but I'm not sure I will feel the same in November. Awakened was as equally entertaining as it was annoying. Once you pick past all the filler and fluff the plot points were decent. Unfortunately you have to wade through all the bad poetry, and dialogue to get to it. The whole book revolved mostly around death. Ironic for a series that just won't end.
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Initial post: Jan 6, 2011 9:04:49 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 6, 2011 9:22:04 AM PST
Khristine Stain says:
I agree with you. I think 8 books without a proper climax is too much. The first 3 (at least) had some kind of conclusion. This whole book was more filler than anything else and while things did change it didn't carry the novel towards any ending that would satisfy me. In other novel series that I follow (some are also YA), a reappearing villains is common but Neferet always gets over on everybody and the heroines and heroes haven't figured out a way to best her. At all. I need my heroines and heroes to win some battles. At least one battle. The whole book was about complete and utter defeat of the good guys. They gained no leverage, no knowledge to help them in future books.
I feel like the Cast's are bored with ALL the characters they made, even the villains. Kalona and Neferet flounce between 'redeemable' and 'unredeemable' so much it gives me a headache. It doesn't make them complex (if that was the Cast's intention), it makes them annoying. Zoey and her friends course of action against them is no action at all, its more of a 'lets just wait and see what happens' non-action plan that sucks. That might have worked in previous books but its beyond tiresome now. They need to grow up into semi-adults or the next book is going to be 200 pages of whining 'why me!'
I noticed the small paragraph about Neferet using the Darkness to forget her human past and 'abusive' father. I do believe there was another line or two about that in another previous book in the series. Was that really necessary or more filler? I derived no insight into her mind with it. It didn't make me understand Neferet and why she turned to Darkness either. And who will remember that two more books down the line if/when the Cast's actual do something with it?
I'm done with wasting my money on HON. Maybe when the whole series is published I might read it from the library (out of curiosity) to see what the hell the conclusion was supposed to be because I have no idea what the Cast's are trying to do with this series. But as far spending my money on it? Definitely not. I will content myself with authors who entertain me (Sherilyn Kenyon, Eileen Wilks and Shelly Laurenston) instead of annoy me.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 6, 2011 12:07:33 PM PST
I know when I invest in this series I'm not getting some great work of well written art, but I do expect a beginning, middle, and end. I feel like these characters have no real purpose. I defer to the Harry Potter books and compare them to HON because it was a long series as well but not driven by a blatant milking of the fan base. Each book has it's own mystery to solve and prepared Harry for the final battle. That's really lacking in HON. I think a good series should grow with an audience. A good example of this is Rick Roidan's Lost Hero, it's a new series that continues the Percy Jackson books, it's listed as a juvenile book but could be considered a YA the characters are all teenagers the format quite long and the relationships older than in the previous series but in a sweet way. I think Roidan's successful in appealing to a younger audience while not alienating his original fan from as far back as six years ago. In these other books the storyline got more complex as they went and LONGER. I think when Aphodite became a good guy they lost the individual story line for the separate books and it just became one long endless serial. I don't see how an author can be satisfied by this uniformed short fiction that HON has become. It's one of the reasons the story lines are so skewed. The last few books from when Kalona rose to Tempted could have been one book. These stories are being published more like a weekly sitcom ending at a good stopping point instead of a resolution point.
I was really disappointed in how so much from other books and general pop culture seems to influencing this series. I thought the original ideas were refreshing. Now it just seems like how much can we cram into the series. I'm sure they think they're creating a rich world, but it comes across as unfocused and mashed together. Just because I like the fey and their pretty alternate grove on Trueblood doesn't mean they should create their own version in the story. And though I think Oklahoma is a strange setting they write it well since they live there. The descriptions of Venice were a joke, and the addition of Scotland and even more folklore is really stretching the credibility of the HON world. I got the audio book version through audible using my free credits, and I was always a big supporter of Stark but the Scottish impersonations were getting annoying.
I agree with the filler. I wasn't sure how to write the review without spoilers but still giving the gist of the story when there was no real story, just fragments and fillers. I'm not a teen. I enjoy reading YA and anything that I might like, but I'm not a prude either. I read my share of paranormal romance and urban fantasy, but I found this book quite racey for YA. I know a common theme in YA is taking that step when your in love, but there were at least three intimate scenes, a line about Stark/Kalona settling deep within Zoey, and I don't even want to know Neferet was doing with that bull to complete the ritual. I think it was more of a distraction so the reader wouldn't notice the lack of content or structure. We really didn't get anywhere they just ended up back underground again.
As for the future I think, and I hate this because the never ending love triangles were over at least during Awakened, that Heath will become the new Erebus and Zoe's number one. While Stark will become number 2 like Kalona, but he will have to overcome the jealousy that was Kalona's downfall and the beginning of the imbalance of light and dark. If I'm right Stark could be the key to restoring everything. But I'm not happy about this perpetual rotating door of men, I was glad to see Zoe settled and not in the middle of a hoard of boys.
I think I might wait for the end before I finish this series, but I'm not sure. they seem to be pushing the release dates back instead of around six months now it's around eleven. As if the fledling handbook wasn't annoying enough because it pushed back this last book. My attention's waning.
Posted on Jan 6, 2011 7:58:58 PM PST
Glad it's not just me that felt this way. I started to feel this series was dragging out with the last book, and makes me appreciate Richelle Mead sticking to her guns to end the VA arc at 6 books.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 6, 2011 8:56:49 PM PST
I love VA. And also appreciate that she's ended Roses story, set some new goals for a different heroine in a spin off series. Which I can't wait for. It's torture. I think the main character is going to be Jill, and how her life is in danger. Plus I hope, is it Eddie or Ethan, I can't remember his name, but he helped with both prison breaks and was kicked out of the guardians. I hope he gets to redeem himself as well in the new books. As the series progressed the VA books got longer because that's what the story needed, instead of what's been happening with HON. And it's not really the length since I read short books all the time like Rachel Vincent's Shifters series, or The Morganville Vampires, those are around 250pgs but they have an actual story. It doesn't take 3 volumes to complete one lesser story line.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2011 9:18:46 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jan 7, 2011 9:21:16 AM PST]
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2011 9:20:55 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 7, 2011 10:02:21 AM PST
Khristine Stain says:
Quote by Kale 'I feel like these characters have no real purpose. I defer to the Harry Potter books and compare them to HON because it was a long series as well but not driven by a blatant milking of the fan base. Each book has it's own mystery to solve and prepared Harry for the final battle. That's really lacking in HON.'
Exactly. I haven't read the Last Hero yet but I plan to. I have read all of Rick Riodan's Percy Jackson & The Olympians series and they are great books, one of the better YA series I have read.
Quote by Kale 'I think when Aphrodite became a good guy they lost the individual story line for the separate books and it just became one long endless serial.'
I did like Aphrodites progression from villainess to friend of Zoey but it really want downhill from there. Yes, if the Cast's trimmed all that filler out we could have had a longer, more interesting single novel (regarding Kalona's rising until now) or two reasonable length novels.
The pop culture references are getting old. If it doesn't help explain something or tell the story, then its all cannon fodder to me.
I did think the Sgiacth Queen-Scottish addition was interesting (folklore wise) but what did it do for the overall series plot? It was a stretch that snapped apart the rubberband. Zoey can now separate from Vamp society and call herself a queen. Big whoop. It would have been more interesting if Zoey stayed on Skye and Neferet took the fight to the island while Zoey was being trained for queen-dom (and hopefully growing up too).
I am not a teen either but in this last book they overstepped YA. LOL I dont want to know what Neferet is doing with that bull either! The last bit where Stark being controlled by Kalona and was rough (rapish?) with Zoey was a shocker for any YA novel. I really dont think that is appropriate for an YA audience. I wouldn't want my daughter reading this book in a few years.
And Heath's soul being in the vessel may be interesting but they need to stop beating that dead horse Heath-Zoey-Stark love triangle. Its all decomposing meat now. And it smells. I really don't want the Vessel with Heath's essence falling in love with Zoey all over again. I do think the Cast's are setting up a scenario as Heath the Vessel as the new Erubus and Stark having a huge internal fight with Darkness (again? really?) by Kalona spirit jumping (what the H?) into Stark making Zoey believe her Guardian is with the Darkness. To quote HON, its bullpoopie.
Yes, the hoard of revolving boys was distracting. It was like I was watching a soap opera for a time.
And what was the purpose of Eric in this novel? He was so irrelevant I forgot what I was going to write. Again.
Yes I noticed that the release dates are farther apart. Maybe thats a marketing ploy? Publishers do that alot. Understanding publishers for me is like understanding politcs, I miss the logic they seem to use. Strange Fate by L. J. Smith has been on hold for so many years I was honestly surprised they bothered to re-release the NightWorld series.
Posted on Jan 7, 2011 11:17:52 AM PST
Thanks for your review; it definitely helped me decide whether to buy this book or wait to borrow it from my local library. I have had similar feelings and frustrations about this series, and I think that the story lines could have been wrapped up several books ago. The strong characters I loved early in the series have grown and evolved into something I hardly recognize. As soon as the authors began to dismantle Erik Night's character, I began to lose hope. I enjoy many of the others, but their roles have become smaller, and to be honest, Zoey is not my favorite of the bunch. She is as necessary as any main character and has her redeeming qualities, but if you asked me why I was reading this series, it was not truly for her. Thanks again!
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2011 4:03:21 PM PST
Your welcome Janette. I try to honest and thorough about why I like or don't don't like something. While I think Awakened was entertaining to a point the frustrations went far beyond any redeemable qualities. Part of me wants to wait until the series ends to finish reading it. The other part wants to read each one as they come out to write a honest blunt review. Visiting this page and seeing the overwhelming negative response to the direction of HON, I wonder if the Casts take the time to read what their fans are saying. I know none of the problems discussed here, or by any of the reviewers (good & bad), are taken into consideration when they write. A lot of what's been said isn't new.
As for Erik's decline, I was always more team Stark, and not really sure about his character. I don't really know how to describe their first meeting. They had that strange connection when their eyes first met, but can you really call it love at first sight if the guy's in an almost orally intimate compromised position while your have said epiphany. I just find it hard to know who he is when his gift is to be anyone he wants to appear to be. I think after the whole Loren affair the series started to go down. I understood her boy problems, and don't blame Erik for how he reacted, but the stuff in the tunnels was just fluff. I must tell you he's not presented in a very good light in Awakened either. I'm going to talk about that with a reply to Chrystal later so don't read it if you don't want a few spoilers. But really the authors went out of their way to make each of Zoe's love interest in some way a jerk. Zoey was actually in only one relationship in this book but already it looks short lived. They are also starting to make Stark a bad guy like Erik. So it's really not exclusive to Erik. It seems the only person who they're not changing is Zoe. I liked Zoe in the first few, got why she did what she did, and I know there hasn't been a long amount of time that lapsed between the first and last books, but the adversity she faced should've matured her. This last book was all Zoe, and Stevie Rae, with Neferet and Raphiem thrown in for an alternate perspective. I guess in summary it's the complete destruction of HON.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 7, 2011 7:11:41 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 7, 2011 7:34:33 PM PST
Chrystal Finck : I did like Aphrodites progression from villainess to friend of Zoey but it really want downhill from there. Yes, if the Cast's trimmed all that filler out we could have had a longer, more interesting single novel (regarding Kalona's rising until now) or two reasonable length novels.
I like Aphrodite as a good guy as well. I think she rounds out the nerd herd nicely, and she doesn't curse like a three year old. But usually when you get rid of one mean girl another pops up in her place. Plus it's not like there aren't an abundance of bad guys in this series. Aphrodite's back up b*@#ches abandoned her when she lost favor, there are the evil red fledglings Venus isn't exactly a good guy, there was the intolerant religious sect, or the ever reliable vampire slayer that could have been introduced if all else fails. Which it did.
Chrystal Finck : Quote by Kale 'I feel like these characters have no real purpose. I defer to the Harry Potter books and compare them to HON because it was a long series as well but not driven by a blatant milking of the fan base. Each book has it's own mystery to solve and prepared Harry for the final battle. That's really lacking in HON.'
I can understand why Zoey didn't receive a new tattoo, if a new tat signifies the completion of a lesson learned and therefore meant to mean Zoe is a step closer to having the knowledge and experience to defeat darkness then she hasn't earned what she has. It seems like the only indication that we the reader is getting anywhere is through the appearance of a new tattoo, yet the experience and knowledge gained is in no way reflected in the heroines maturity and personality.
Chrystal Finck : The last bit where Stark being controlled by Kalona and was rough (rapish?) with Zoey was a shocker for any YA novel. I really dont think that is appropriate for an YA audience. & Yes, the hoard of revolving boys was distracting. It was like I was watching a soap opera for a time.
I didn't mind the soap opera at first. I felt like Loren was the climax of her romantic relationships, (I know that sounds dirty, but you read Awakened), but like the rest of the series her love life didn't resolve. It just got more complicated, which I could understand for a period of time, but she couldn't make up her mind or get rid of any of them and just when you think they were out Cast brings them back????? It's like they were kept around so they could each be villainize each of them. And it was getting out of control, why does she have to have no less than three suitors at a time. The downfall of Erik is starting to happen to Stark as well from what I gather, again because it's too soon in the series for Zoey to be settled. And though I think Erik's out he seems to have been given a reprieve at the end of Awakened. SPOILER!!! I also think the whole LA running away from Oklahoma thing they wrote for him was fluff, yeah it made him look like a coward and jerk, but it would have cut some dead weight from the story, only to have them make him a tracker to keep him around. It's like they can't make up their minds.
Chrystal Finck : And Heath's soul being in the vessel may be interesting but they need to stop beating that dead horse Heath-Zoey-Stark love triangle. Its all decomposing meat now. And it smells. I really don't want the Vessel with Heath's essence falling in love with Zoey all over again. I do think the Cast's are setting up a scenario as Heath the Vessel as the new Erubus and Stark having a huge internal fight with Darkness (again? really?) by Kalona spirit jumping (what the H?) into Stark making Zoey believe her Guardian is with the Darkness. To quote HON, its bullpoopie.
Again the Casts can't seem to make up their mind or let anything go. When I got to the part where they bring Heath back I want to scream. Every time I think we're making progress I find we are right back to to where we started. The same formula. I am waiting for them to resurrect Loren so the love octagon can be complete. And Nix can advise her that she's been gifted with an affinity for men, to explain her appeal. Because personality isn't exactly been highlighted. This inability to edit, and let things go, I can understand. It took me all four years of art school to learn to simplify. I still have trouble with it, but only keeping what's most important is best. One of my teachers once told me that new students always add extra details to hide a lack of talent. I don't totally agree with this, but think the more confident the artist the less showy they make things. The Casts are definitely adding too much sparkle to hide the lack of commitment and content.
Chrystal Finck : I did think the Sgiacth Queen-Scottish addition was interesting (folklore wise) but what did it do for the overall series plot? It was a stretch that snapped apart the rubberband. Zoey can now separate from Vamp society and call herself a queen. Big whoop. It would have been more interesting if Zoey stayed on Skye and Neferet took the fight to the island while Zoey was being trained for queen-dom (and hopefully growing up too).
My problem with this is why venture into other venues just to create an imaginary landscape. No need to leave a setting the authors are so familiar with and describes what I would think is accurate, not entirely sure since I've never been there, just for the sake of delay. Really what did they do in Venice. I've been to Venice and nothing they described made any sense. It was a complete La La Land. Yeah they have islands that are really private, but what's the point of going someplace and not transporting the reader there. I don't remember any italian references. And well they could have killed Heath anywhere. Then there was Skye again were being taken to an alternate version of another country. But on top of that were being introduced to yet another set of iconography and beliefs. I know they are just trying to show Nix and vampire culture in all it's various forms but too overly complicated trying to keep up with the nuns and their religion, the native american beliefs and mythology, then adding whatever folklore, rituals, and mythology Sgiacth came from. The reason why I think Percy Jackson is interesting is because of the brilliant yet simple concept of modern day heroes, taking Greek mythology and making it contemporary. It's a simple idea, with lots of possibilities. Cast's original idea of native american wiccian fusion plus tattooed vampires really worked in the beginning, but taking it out of Oklahoma or even north america where this aspect makes sense. Instead of exploring all these different lands and alternate cultures I think they should have kept it closer to the original idea. I know they went to Scotland because Stark's ancestry's from there, but this comes from a lack of focus, and too many POVs at one time. Native American culture is so diverse and rich, they barely scratched the surface. Wouldn't a spirit walk have made more sense. Exploring the house of night withing different cultures would be interesting but I think it would have to be it's own series with one POV. I think Stark's personal journey told through his own heritage would have been interesting if well researched.
Chrystal Finck : And what was the purpose of Eric in this novel? He was so irrelevant I forgot what I was going to write. Again.
Erik's presence was required to remind us that he use to be Jack's jerk roommate. As was stated at least ten times. Did I mention he was Jack's roommate? Well he was. Sorry now I'm just spewing filler nonsense. OH wait! He was also mentioned so the authors could make him even more of a douche. Sorry to anyone who's team Erik I really think the whole deserter thing was unneeded. Just to draft him. It's like kicking a dead guy.
Chrystal Finck : I am not a teen either but in this last book they overstepped YA.
In Vampire Academy there's love scenes, but there's a big difference between Richelle Mead's YA and Adult series. I found this book so strange that the opening reintroduction of both Neferet and Zoey revolved around sex. Incidentally about a year ago I made the mistake of trying to read Divine by Mistake and was promptly turned off when I realized that the male lead was a centaur. I never read past their meet cute. Didn't really want to know she worked that out.
Chrystal Finck : I haven't read the Last Hero yet but I plan to.
I tend to read mostly female authors, because I feel they get how women ie me see love and relationships. I read the Philip Pullman Dark Materials and hated how he saw love. But the Lighting Thief movie was going to come out and I like to read a book and compare it to the movie. I love how entertaining Roidan makes his books. I guess you have to know how to keep a kids attention if your writing juvenile fiction, his ideas are interesting, he paces everything well. And it's a I can't praise modernizing mythology enough.You tell he puts a lot of time in researching whatever he's writing about. I also love that his books don't just entertain, but teach you about ancient cultures. I read the Red Pyramid as well, and though I like the Percy books better, Red Pyramid could be like my first guide to Egyptology with how educating, and well researched it was.
If you like Percy you are going to love The Lost Hero. Riodan adds a new mythological aspect which the lead character Jason personifies, but it's worked in seamlessly unlike in Awakened. Everything fits so perfectly that I honestly can't tell whether Jason's story was planned at the same time as Percy, and he outlined both series to work with each other. Or if he came up with the complementary concept and took some openings in the first series and work with those. I actually prefer his new characters, and the budding romance happening. Between Percy and Jason. I am definitely team Jason.
Posted on Jan 7, 2011 7:56:53 PM PST
Nyx in the House of Night: Mythology, Folklore and Religion in the PC and Kristin Cast Vampyre Series
The November release date makes more sense now.