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The Awakened by Julian Cheek – Book Review

I was part of the blog tour for this book and shared an extract here. You can also find the synopsis on the original post.

I’ve now read the book so here are my thoughts.

Unfortunately I really struggled with this and came close to not finishing on a few occasions. But I don’t like reviewing without finishing. I’m sorry to say I won’t be continuing with the series though.

I have the utmost respect for those who have finished a book and put it out there especially as I’m still struggling with the editing part of the process myself.

The Awakened I’m sad to say I think would have benefited from further editing.

I really liked the premise and the synopsis sounded intriguing. Although I do feel that it really only describes the very end of the book (leading into the next) so I do feel it was a little misleading. There is a villain who is named and his deeds mentioned but he is also described as “He who must not be named.” Hmmm!

For me The Awakened was far too descriptive at the start with nothing really happening. I don’t think the stakes were set up quick enough. Seventeen year old Sam just keeps falling asleep in the real world and waking up in another strange world. He is constantly just putting that down to being a dream and comes across as quite naive.

Generally Sam didn’t sound like an authentic teenager and I didn’t feel he had enough agency in the story. He constantly refuses to accept what is happening as real. It reminded me a bit like Bastian at the end of The Neverending Story film but he was like this throughout and I did find myself rolling my eyes at him repeatedly.

What I found intriguing was the fact that his brother had recently died in the real world and I wish this had been explored more and that we were shown rather than told what he was feeling. I did wonder if that would play more into the other world but it seemed he died from Leukaemia.

The scenes back in the real world didn’t seem to add much to the story except to get him out of sticky situations. I was also confused as to why towards the end of the book we moved from Sam’s point of view to following others including a scene in Paris that read more like it fit in a horror/alien invasion film. It was so out of place with the rest of the book.

I didn’t really connect to Sam as a character but I did like Pania, a little girl in the other world and would be interested to see what becomes of her. There are characters called Padme that remind me of daemons from His Dark Materials and I’d like to have understood them a bit more. Sam’s Padme Babu was quite fun – given a bit more of an attitude I think he would have carried the story more.

I couldn’t follow the set up of the other world and feel having a map might have helped.

In summary I found the story confusing and felt it was trying to be too many things. It was full of ‘tell instead of show’, very repetitive and just generally needed more editing.

Disclaimer. I received a copy of this book for the purposes of an honest review.

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#TheAwakened by Julian Cheek – Blog Tour Book Extract

Synopsis

My name is Sam. I am nothing special but apparently if I don’t wake up, both this world and that other one will be destroyed. Nice One! All I wanted was to disappear into my own world and be left alone. But, No! Even THAT was taken away from me.

Well just wait. You want me to fight? I’ll show you “fight.”

You took the most important thing in my life away from me, and now I am coming for you.

Hidden away in your mountain stronghold, even the rocks around you will not stop me getting to you.

You started this war.

I am going to finish it!

Seventeen year old Sam just wants to be left alone!

He has enough to cope with in his invisible, suburban, existence without having some fantastic and, frankly, unasked-for, alternate reality drop into his life asserting that he has powers beyond his wildest dreams. And that unless he does something, both his world, and that of Muanga-Atua, will come to a horrible end.

A terrifying episode one blustery night may be enough to start to erode the impregnable shell he thought he had built up around himself. A shell, not to keep others out, but to keep the rage in. Could he afford, as was the norm now, just to do nothing?

About the Author

Living  in  Petersfield,  Hampshire,  Julian  Cheek  has  worked  for  over  thirty  years  as  an  architect          working  on  several  major  projects  including  Mercedes  World,  a  competition  for  Battersea  Power  Station,  NikeTown  and  most  recently  a  high  rise,  Versace  branded  residential  building  in  London.  When  not  designing  he  is  embracing  his  other  creative  interests,  writing.  His  first  book,  You  should  not  wake  a  hibernating  Puff-Adder  (2011)  was  a  series  of  short  stories  inspired  by  his  childhood  growing  up  in  South  Africa.

Website: http://puffadder.co.uk/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/juliancheek

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/public/Julian-Cheek

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/julian_cheek/?hl=en

Extract

After a short while, he pushed past the last of the branches and came across the source of the noise. A pond lay in front of him, surrounded by moss-covered, shiny stones and pebbles, haphazardly strewn around and disappearing into the water. A small waterfall bounced over the rocks above him, landing into the pond in front, casting ripples into the mirror of the water, reflecting its surroundings. He felt the soft spray on his face and hands as it glistened in the air around him, slowly painting him in a sheen to match the surrounding area. He knelt down, reaching his hands out into the water, sensing its coldness as his fingers dipped into the liquid. And cupping his hands, he drew a few eager mouthfuls into his mouth. The silence of the surroundings now eased by the subtle sounds of the falling water and droplets from the surrounding fronds falling into the water’s edge.

As he was drinking, he sensed, rather than heard, a subtle disturbance in his immediate environment. For some reason he felt the hairs on the back of his neck start to lift and a feeling of danger began to weave itself into his mind. There were no apparent changes to the noises around him, no shadows casting strange shapes into his field of view, but something was not right. Something was here, he was sure of it. And that “something” was not wanting to announce itself! He slowly lifted his gaze up from the water’s edge, scanning the surroundings, searching for a clue to his sense of danger, but nothing was there. The branches of the trees still bent down to touch the water’s edge, the moss and ferns lay quiet opposite him, the water still bubbled down the rock face above him, landing into the water. There was nothing obvious about his surroundings that advertised danger. I must be imagining things, Sam thought. The quietness is starting to get to me. His gaze fell back to the reflections on the water, seeing the tree line, the pebbles just below the surface. But something didn’t gel, and his brain made his eyes focus on the surface. Focus on the surface of the water just in front of him. Focus on the reflections on the water just in front of him. And looking back, coming into view, now that his brain, like a radar, had picked up its target, was the shape of an animal. Small, furry, sleek bodied, a long sweeping tail brushing the grasses, talons gripping the rock face. Large eyes, looking straight down at him.

Straight down at me!… With a shock, Sam sprang back defensively as he realised that this creature had crept up behind him and was even now above him on the rock face of the mini waterfall, intent on getting closer without him knowing.

“Aaaaarrggghhhh!!!”

His world exploded as a scream powered out of his mouth, and instinctively he jumped up, grasping a rock in his hands, and throwing it in the direction of where he thought the animal was, all the while screaming out in shock, hoping to scare this “thing” as far away as possible. Arms flailing and legs kicking out instinctively, Sam shouted and cursed in pure, adrenaline-induced terror.

Nothing!

No noise, no scrabbling, no whimpering. Nothing. Whatever it was, Sam thought, had been scared away by his antics and probably long since disappeared down the hole it had scraped itself out of in the first place. His breathing calmed down a notch and he allowed himself a brief grin, thinking he had scared off whatever terror that “thing” was. He cracked out the tension from his shoulders, which had been building up whilst at the pool, and again turned towards the water, as if to seek some release there.

On the opposite side of the pond, sitting calmly and serenely on its haunches, and not more than two metres from him, the “creature from hell” gazed across as if, for all the world, this screaming banshee, that had been Sam, was a common occurrence here. Its eyes were intelligently gauging Sam’s next movements. A thin tongue snaked out, licking its ears, and those big eyes fixed Sam with steely gaze… and then it smiled!

By smiling, its mouth opened, and the most lethal looking row of sharpened, death-dealing fangs shone out from the dark pit of its mouth………

If that’s what your appetite do pick up a copy and check out the other stops on the blog tour

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