Lots of people really enjoyed Natasha Preston’s The Cellar and are looking forward to her new book, Awake. Unfortunately, this was definitely a two star book, and I don’t think it is worth your time (seriously -2.9 average on Goodreads).
Scarlett doesn’t remember anything before the age of five. Her parents say it’s from the trauma of seeing her house burn down, and she accepts the life they’ve created for her without question—until a car accident causes Scarlett to start remembering pieces of an unfamiliar past.
When a new guy moves into town, Scarlett feels an instant spark. But Noah knows the truth of Scarlett’s past, and he’s determined to shield her from it…because Scarlett grew up in a cult called Eternal Light, controlled by her biological parents.
And they want her back.
Awake had an interesting premise, and the dual narrators created a lot of dramatic irony. I’ve read several books dealing with similar topics this year, but none of them used this rather intriguing angle. The narrative is almost entirely dialogue and stage direction, though, so beyond the main internal conflict of each narrator, there is little dimension to the characters. This means that they don’t always come across as real people so much as actors in a play, especially the secondary characters who either represent good and evil with no gray areas. I think the plot is engaging enough that most readers will push past that flaw just to see how this one will end. I certainly had a good idea of what was going to happen, as will most readers, but the fun was in figuring out how it was going to happen. Unfortunately, I was most distressed by the final resolution to the story. I felt sick when I realized what decision Scarlett was ultimately going to make, especially considering all the growth she displayed as a character in the final third of the book. I was baffled and more horrified by the (probably) unintentional message it sent than by any of the intended horror in the book. If the target audience for a work is the YA crowd, I think it is important to consider what they are going to get out of it, and I just felt like this was setting impressionable readers up to excuse reprehensible behaviors in the name of true love. I wanted to like this book, but in the end, I just can’t forgive that ending.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.