Awakened by P.C. Cast
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
At the start of Awakened, the pulse-pounding eighth installment of the bestselling House of Night series, Zoey has returned, mostly whole, from the Otherworld to her rightful place as High Priestess at the House of Night. Her friends are just glad to have her back, but after losing her human consort, Heath, will Zoey - or her relationship with her super-hot Warrior, Stark - ever be the same? Stevie Rae is drawn even closer to Rephaim, the Raven Mocker with whom she shares a mysterious and powerful Imprint, but he is a dangerous secret that isolates her from her school, her red fledglings, and even her best friends. When the dark threat of Neferet - who is coming closer and closer to achieving her twisted goal of immortality - and Kalona returns, what will it take to keep the House of Night from being lost forever, and what will one desperate girl do to keep her heart from being irreparably broken?
****** IF YOU ARE A DIE HARD HOUSE OF NIGHT FAN - DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW!!! HUGE SPOILERS AND I HAVE A LOT OF OPINIONS******
My Take: Oh. Dread. I'll start out with the positives -
Okay, I can only think of one. Such a great concept for a series of books. Bottom line - Zoey is a regular teenager girl who is going to high school when she is "Marked." This means that she will eventually turn into a vampyre. She's shunned by all and eventually reports to "The House of Night," a school for others who are beginning the change but not before she drives to see her grandmother, a Native American (Zoey is part) and experiences a spiritual experience with the goddess, Nyx, goddess of the moon. Zoey is destined to be a great leader.
Zoey arrives at the school which is very big into practicing Wicca. The high priestess, Neferet is stunningly beautiful but seems to be evil. Yada, yada, she really is evil, Zoey steps up, Zoey and her friends develop powers and affinities for the elements, have weird experiences, etc. See? Fantastic content for young adult audience. Then it goes downhill.
This book starts with Neferet having sex with some random warrior. He's not the one she wants so she kicks him out. But at least he's beautiful. She goes to the dungeon where she is keeping Kalona, an immortal, who used to be the Guardian of the goddess Nyx and who just failed to kill Zoey. Now he's a slave (including sex) to Neferet. Next scene: Zoey is on the island of Skye, recuperating from Book 7 with her guardian, Stark. They have sex in a grove and Zoey decides to stay on Skye forever. By the way, Stark is beautiful.
Interruption: Mothers, Are you feeling how appropriate this book is for young adults? But, wait. There's more.
Neferet has a debt to pay "darkness," the evil tendrils she commands to harm, maim or kill those she commands. She chooses to kill very sweet, very purple, very gay Jack, Damien's lover. And, oh, the stereotype is all over this one. Jack and Damien are completely about rainbows, puppy dogs, interior design, and painting their love for all the world to see. Did I mention these characters are sixteen?
Neferet makes her appearance at the council and - Surprise! All the adults are just too darn stupid to realize Neferet is evil. Because, as a rule, grown-ups just don't get it and really are not people to trust.
Meanwhile, our stereotypical southern, Stevie Rae is talkin' all southern for us and lamenting about her love, the Raven Mocker Rephaim. Rephaim is a great big bird, beak and all. But she loves him. It's important to point out how Rephaim was conceived. Kalona, his father, raped his mother and she died in childbirth. Special.
Continuing with socially unacceptable sexual practices, Kalona, Rephaim's father, discovers that he has a connection to Stark, Zoey's sex toy. He can travel into Stark's mind. Interesting twist to the story except HE ONLY CHOOSES TO DO SO WHILE STARK IS HAVING SEX WITH ZOEY! EWWW! She's 17 years old! Now we're talking statutory rape/rape (Zoey did not give Kalona permission to enjoy sex with her via Stark's mind).
Much to my better judgment, I did finish this book which gave me one more sexual anomaly. Neferet "gives herself completely" to the white bull. That's right, folks, beastiality.
Let's go over that list one more time:
1. Casual sex (even though they really LOVE each other)
2. Homosexuality and stereotyping of gay boys.
4. Statutory rape
Almost insignificant is the book jacket that, if I had seen the inside of it, would have been a good indicator. Turn it inside out and you get a full poster of a teenage boy, well defined muscles, low slung jeans looking morose.
With four more books in the series to be written, I implore the authors to PLEASE develop a social conscience and 1) write better characters 2) stop insulting the reader with such garbage and stereotypes and 3) take writing workshops. I know P.C. Cast has earned prestigious awards but the characters lack depth, the story is not well developed, description of surroundings and action scenes lackluster or are absent, and the dialogue loses the genuineness by including the Scottish accent, Southern accent, and African American accent. Give the reader some credit in allowing us to create the accents in our heads. We know how to do that or sometimes we choose to concentrate more on content rather than worry about how something is said. 4) Stop grossing out the reader.
* This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I regret my review is not more positive.