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A Steamy Awakening
on January 5, 2011
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.