I received this book via Author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.Awaken by Michelle Bryan
Series: New Bloods Trilogy #1
Published by Aelurus Publishing on February 9, 2014
Length: 304 pages
Reviewing eARC from Author
Imagine a world devastated by The Shift. The cities left in ruins and the people all gone. Technology now nothing but the subject of folklore. Each and every day a struggle to survive. This is Tara's world.
Raised as a survivor in the harsh, lawless sand lands, Tara is no stranger to hardship. But when her village is destroyed and the young people taken by the merciless Prezedant, she quickly learns how much of a fighter she really is.
Now on a quest to rescue her only remaining kin, she is joined by the most unlikely of companions. Finn, an orphaned boy who has a devil Cat as a pet. Tater, the dwarf storytelling trader who seems to know more than he is willing to admit. And Jax, a surly young man who seems to hate everything about Tara. Together this little band of adventurers will face dangerous adversaries on a journey into the unknown. Nothing will ever be the same.
*Sept. 2015 Update: Brand new cover since writing this review. I have to say I it!
I am the world’s worst person to judge a book by its cover, meaning that if the cover is cheesy or doesn’t catch my eye I don’t read it. Kinda like when you meet someone for the first time, you know first impressions stick. Same with book covers to me. So I started this book hesitantly, not sure if I would like it.* Let me be the first to say I liked it and then some!
Awaken: New Bloods Trilogy by Michelle Bryan is the story of a young woman, just turned 18 living in a world after “The Shift.” The land is like a desert, nothing grows, water and food are scarce, and to her there is just her small community. But on her “born day,” tragedy strikes in the form of iron monsters killing all the adults and taking all the young’uns except Tara who was hidden by her Gra’da before the attacks. Now it is up to her to find what’s left of her kin.
The characters in this story are brilliant! I loved Tara and her way of speaking. She was blunt and straight to the point, no beating around the bush, just honesty. Tara is a strong-willed (stubborn) character. I thought she was a perfect cross between Katniss Everdeen and Rogue from X-men, in fact while reading this is what I pictured:
Tara is even stubborn as she learns about being a “New Blood” or what she calls a mutie, but this endeared her to me even more. She is a relatable character especially as she learns that not all she’s been told growing up in her small community is true.
The other characters she meets along the way – Finn, Tater, and Jax – I also adore. Finn is a boy around 12 with a “demon cat” as a pet who’s community is destroyed the same as Tara’s. He’s high-spirited, inquisitive, and daring, and once he learns that Tara is out to find her kin, he argues to tag along. Tater is a middle-aged, “half-man” trader who comes upon the two one night in the dead woods and decides to take them with him to Littlepass. He is funny and knowledgable about the world outside Tara’s community, but I wasn’t too sure if I could trust him. Jax joins their party after they’ve been captured by Raiders. He is closer to Tara’s age and provides a bit of a love interest. This is not your typical YA romance you see in most books today which was refreshing. It’s subtle and I enjoyed that.
The world building is amazing. Imagine a world that is so far into the future that cars, technology, everything that makes us modern today is folk tale and legend to Tara. It was incredible! The Iron Bones chapter is amazing to me, seeing the ruins of a city through the eyes of someone who has never seen the buildings before, such a great feat for an author to describe. I loved it!
So why four stars and not five? Well, for me, I felt that the story dragged after the initial chapter. There was the hook of seeing as Tara did her community destroyed by the metal monsters, but after that it took a while for the flow of the story to pick up for me. Not that I didn’t still enjoy it, but I wanted it to go a little faster. I didn’t need half a chapter describing how lonely she was walking through the sandlands. Once I hit about the half way mark, the plot of the story really got my attention and I didn’t sit it down til I finished it!
If I was not told, I would never have known that this was Michelle Bryan‘s first novel. Little to no grammar issues that I found, the characters were well-developed, the world-building is amazing, and she left me wanting more! I have so many questions, the biggest being what was the Shift that caused this dystopian universe. If you enjoy YA dystopian with some sci-fi/fantasy thrown into the mix, you should really get a copy of this book. I personally can’t wait for book two!