February 13, 2014

Review: Awakened

Awakened (The Legends of Elyndia) by Kriston Johnson
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: April 2013
Buy Links:

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Book Description:

Can fighting for the right side be the wrong thing to do? Draven, the tyrant ruler of Elyndia for the last one thousand years, searches for the one who can fulfill his prophecy. The Paladins, an elite band of warriors sworn to protect their way of life at all cost, search for the one with the ability to bring their world crumbling down. 

 An innocent girl, tormented by demons only she can see, lives on the brink of insanity and longs for a life of peace. When seventeen-year-old Jade Rosenberg reads from an antique book, she has no idea she just read an incantation awaking her inherited power. But when opposing—and equally terrifying—groups invade her home, she learns she is descended from an enchanted realm and a member of a powerful race thought to have been hunted to extinction. 

 Ripped from her world, Jade is forced to seek refuge from those who want her dead. She is given one of two options and the time has come for her to make a choice: assassinate their sworn enemy… Or sacrifice her soul.

♥ ♥ ♥

I'll be honest. It took me awhile to get into reading "Awakened" by Kriston Johnson. It is the first book in her new series, "The Legends of Elyndia", and although it might have started slow (at least in my opinion), it did pick up toward the second half and left me in a place where I would be interested in reading the next book when it is released.

One big reason why it took me so long to get invested in "Awakened" was things just sort of started happening without much explanation. It was almost like I was dropped into a story where the build up has already been explained, and now the action is starting. While there's usually nothing wrong with an action-filled story, there should also be some explanation so the reader doesn't feel lost right from the start.

This book almost seemed like we were on the journey with our main character, Jade. She is newly learning that there is a whole other world out there (other realms, even), and is confused at first. Everything seems to be a jumble of "stuff happening" at the beginning, and it's not until Jade starts to get answers, that we as the readers get some more insight as well.

Speaking of Jade getting answers – the characters seemed to stand around and explain things a lot. At times the dialogue between all of them seemed a bit off as the author was trying to cram in some exposition to make the story make sense, but instead it came off as unrealistic conversation. Oh, we just got attacked by the bad guy? Let's stand around and explain things to you in a calm manner for awhile instead of freaking out, which would be a more logical choice.

Thankfully, things did pick up for me toward the second half of the book, and I found myself eagerly reading to see what was going to happen to Jade next. It takes awhile, but eventually we start to get more background information from the characters, and that helps a lot. Once we know more about who these guys are, we as readers become more inclined to be on their side (or root against them, depending on the character), and relate more to their story Johnson is telling.

I also like how Jade had to work to access her power. It wasn't some miracle moment where she learned she could do something special after living in a mundane world for her whole life and all of a sudden she could do fun things, but she had to practice at it in order to control things. Johnson did a great job of showing Jade's training and gradual control over this new power of hers, and it made me almost proud when Jade is finally able to access it on her own.

All in all, the story idea for "Awakened" as well as the whole "The Legends of Elyndia" series is a good one. I just wish that we would have gotten more character building toward the start of this book, but once it did come, things picked up. "Awakened" ended in a way that resolved a few issues that were posed to our characters, but opened up some new ones that they'll need to address in their adventures in the upcoming books of the series. I will check out the next book that will be released, since it seems like Johnson has hit her stride and hopefully, it will continue in to book two.

♥ ♥ ♥

Author Bio:

Kriston Johnson lives in Southwest Washington with her husband, teenage son, and miniature Australian Shepherd. Her home rests at the fringe of an old growth forest that she insists is the home of Jason Voorhees. 

Her husband thinks that’s a ridiculous assumption, because everyone knows it’s really Bigfoot. 

Every summer Kriston participates in the annual pilgrimage to Faerieworlds, a real life faerie realm here on Earth, and has an unhealthy obsession with Star Wars, The Vampire Diaries, and Iron Man. Awakened is her first novel.

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