Review: Wake

Wake (Watersong, #1)Wake
by Amanda Hocking

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wake / 978-1250008121

I thought I knew what I was getting into with "Wake": I figured the book would be "Twilight but with Mermaids". And, well, I was wrong. But in a good way.

"Wake" starts out like your standard YA supernatural novel; within the first two chapters, we've quickly established a pretty heroine, a sexy love interest, a broken down car, an absentee father, and an infantile mother. Check, check, check. But the establishment is done pretty quickly and not too awkwardly and I have to say I like the pacing; none of this mooning over details for chapters on end. And I *really* like that when the supernatural monsters move into town, everyone notices that they stand out and rumors start flying. That adds a very genuine feel to the novel.

Somewhere along the way, though, the novel stops being a YA supernatural novel yearning for love and awesomesauce and starts being something else entirely, and in a very good way. As protagonist Gemma has to cope with the changes being forced into her life, she undergoes some really compelling character growth and the ride is pleasantly rocky and surprisingly delightful to read. I guess it's worth pointing out that I'd initially planned to read one chapter a day, and instead read *two* chapters on Tuesday and then the entire thing on Wednesday. I'm not sure how chapter three turned into "okay, I'll just read the whole thing and why does the phone keep interrupting me", but it did. So I can honestly say this book held my interest!

So. Things I liked about this novel, hopefully without being too spoilery. The descriptions are lush and gorgeous without being overwrought. The feel of the book takes me to the same place as the Percy Jackson books; there's a very visceral mix of mythology and modern day. All the characters, even the ancillary ones, seem real and genuine and true to life. The "small town" feel comes across really well in the book. The protagonist is genuinely likable without being perfect, and there's zero sneering at people who fail to meet her expectations. Her sister, though slightly more judgmental, stole my heart entirely as she remains open to learning new things about people. The love interest is sexy without being sexual; I don't know how to clarify that further except to say that this book is chaste without being what I would call "abstinence porn". And the supernatural is treated from a really interesting angle, with the pluses and minuses laid out neatly for the reader to agonize over. The conversations, one of the hardest things to write, are superbly realistic and very humorous.

If there are things I didn't like about "Wake", it would perhaps be that some of the flashbacks and fleshing out of the characters felt a little clunky, especially near the beginning. But, you know, I'd almost rather a quick-and-clunky establishing paragraph than a four-chapter drawn-out ordeal just to convey the precise nature of, say, Harper's romantic past. Hocking gets to the point, and I won't fault her for the road having a bump or two.

"Wake" is the first in what looks to be a four-part series, and it definitely ends on a cliffhanger that will leave you wanting more. I'm already eying the back-of-the-book notice telling me to wait until Winter 2013 and wishing time would hurry up. So if you can handle the wait, take this as a recommendation.

NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through Amazon Vine.

~ Ana Mardoll


Ivy Sylvan said...

I'm picking this up today, Ana! I'd never even have heard of it otherwise, but our tastes seem to mesh, so I'm giving it a go.

Also, according to Amazon, the next one is due out in late November of this year.

Ana Mardoll said...

Oh, GOOD. The back of the book said 2013 and I was all WHA-HEY?

I hope you like it. The character development is a little cheesy/predictable but the action stays moving and it has a really nice "feel" to it overall, if that makes any sense. Let me know!

Ivy Sylvan said...

Just finished! It wasn't bad; definitely better handled than Twilight! Also, because my editor-brain can't seem to turn off even when reading for fun (grr), I noticed that she uses commas correctly! There *is* hope for YA literature!

chris the cynic said...

But what about the subjunctive mood? Did she use that when it was called for?

Ivy Sylvan said...

I'd have to go back and look for specific instances, but I don't remember it being used out of place or not used when it should have been.

I do recall wishing for a little more variance in the voices of the characters, though, and that it did bother me when she told me what character [X] was feeling, thinking, or meant, when we were obviously following [Y] at the moment. In the same breath, though, she would sometimes say that [X] did [Z] as though they were feeling [Q]. Bugs me sometimes!

Ana Mardoll said...

That's a HUGE pet peeve of mine too. Though it felt like it stopped after the first 5 chapters or so? But that could have been me. I didn't know whether to include it in the review -- I thought I was the only person on earth bugged by that. But I am.

Ivy Sylvan said...

Good, I'm not the only one! It definitely continued all the way through. I did notice it substantially less as I went, though; I tend to block out things that annoy me to preserve my sense of fun.

I *did* like how cute the main relationship was. It actually felt like a teenage first-true-love story rather than THE ONE OMG. Less thrilled with Daniel and Harper's, but that was probably just because it didn't get as much screentime and thus it felt very contrived to me.

Ana Mardoll said...

Yeah, it did not feel like ONE TRUE LOVE and I liked that.

I liked Daniel and I liked Harper (she's basically me, I guess), but I wasn't sure I liked them together. But, meh, if Harper is me and Daniel is hot, I guess it's fine? Except I didn't really see that being ONE TRUE LOVE either, so. I hope it isn't.


(Did you notice that Daniel is immune to the Sirens? Clearly he's supernatural in some way, but how?)

Ivy Sylvan said...

Here be spoilers!

I did! I have two theories about that: either he actually *is* supernatural himself, or this is an example of what Penn was talking about with regard to Alex. If Alex were *truly* in love with Gemma, then he would have been immune to their charms, too. If we're supposed to infer that Daniel is in love with Harper and is thus unaffected, that would make sense. Except, as stated, I didn't buy them together!

Ana Mardoll said...

Ah, I hope it's not the TRUE LOVE thing and is instead a Supernatural thing. Because I noticed he was immune right from the beginning and while he COULD have been in love already, that just seems so anti-climactic. :/

Still, that's a clever theory I hadn't thought of! I just hope it's not that.

Ivy Sylvan said...

Also, thoughts on how obviously-creepy the girls were? I feel like the police would already have confronted them on the disappearances if the *whole town* was instantly put-off. This is one thing that I'm on the fence about whether I like this approach or Twilight's. The Cullens at least make a token effort to be normal, and Forksians are just blind enough not to catch the inconsistencies. These girls all but wear a sign and then say, "Oh, but we should move on before we get caught."

Ana Mardoll said...

I liked it. I wish people thought the Cullens were creepy more. I think the time between Bodies Found, Murders Confirmed and Get Out Of Dodge was short enough that it was plausible, but I could be wrong. And I tend to think that GAH CREEPY and "No, I'm overreacting" can go hand in hand, but that's just me maybe.

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