Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Woken Gods Book Review

The Woken Gods

By Gwenda Bond


Strange Chemistry

Sept 3, 2013

3/5 Stars

         A Summary for people who need them but can’t find them,

      “Five years ago, the gods of ancient mythology awoke around the world.
This morning, Kyra Locke is late for school.
Seventeen-year-old Kyra lives in a transformed Washington, D.C., home to the embassies of divine pantheons and the mysterious Society of the Sun. But when rebellious Kyra encounters two trickster gods on her way back from school, one offering a threat and the other a warning, it turns out her life isn't what it seems. She escapes with the aid of Osborne "Oz" Spencer, an intriguing Society field operative, only to discover that her scholar father has disappeared with a dangerous relic. The Society needs it, and they don't care that she knows nothing about her father's secrets.
Now Kyra must depend on her wits and the suspect help of scary gods, her estranged oracle mother, and, of course, Oz--whose first allegiance is to the Society. She has no choice if she's going to recover the missing relic and save her father. And if she doesn't? Well, that may just mean the end of the world as she knows it” Amazon.com


        The Woken Gods is definitely a different take on the traditional fantasy teen novel.  However, I really had a hard time with some of the world building in this book.  Let me run down some of my issues.  One of which is that in the beginning of the book the author states that magic has thrown technology so out of whack that there is no point in students even studying physics anymore.  However, there are electric lights and they use them when it’s convenient to the plot and not use them when it isn’t.  They watch television news broadcasts when it’s convenient to the plot but cars don’t work in Washington D.C. because, as near as I can tell it isn’t convenient to the plot.  At one point Kyra and one of her friends watch VHS movies.  Why can’t they watch DVDs?  How much different is that?  The whole problem with technology not working makes me believe that the author wanted a certain vision or theme of the world but she wasn’t creative enough to have situations where that technology NEVER worked.  In the end, this is a very small nitpick and I’m sure some people out there are rolling their eyes.  But it really took me out of the book every time one of these things would happen.

       The magic system in the book also seems a little strange.  In beginning of the story we are told that relics need to be used by people with training.  The first ones are even shown to need special verbal commands in another language for them to work.  By the middle of the book this concept is completely gone and the story then seems to imply that you just need to get a hold of one these relics for it to work.  So the average archaeologist would be pretty powerful in this world, apparently.  But they are all held by these families that are members of this once secret society that is now in power instead of the government.  All of this seemed a little odd to me and the broad strokes that are taken with all kinds of things in the world make this seem rather unlikely or at least far more complex than the book makes out.  What’s worse is that because we see most of the book from the main character’s perspective none of this is explained at all.  Which might have managed to ground the world a little more than it did.  It’s fine to have a secret group like in Percy Jackson or Harry Potter it’s quite another to make that group not secret and the ruling the country/world.

       The other problems I had were centered around the main characters in the book.  As in many teen books, there is the main character and her friends.  Usually one or two boys and one girl.  This book is no different.  Except there are far more boys.  Anyway, while Kyra, the main character is pretty complex and has a descent background.  Some of her reasons for doing things aren’t explained very well even though the story is from her perspective.  Which left me wondering, other than the tradition of most teen books being in first person; why didn’t the author just write the whole thing in third person.

       I also wasn’t too thrilled with the switching to other characters for a chapter for a third person point of view of the events.  While this might have added a little color to the story.  What it really achieved, was pulling me out of the story’s flow and letting me know that now one of the other characters needed to be in charge.  These changes usually felt unnecessary.  They were also a wasted opportunity, because we rarely got the supporting characters motives or feelings from them.  Which meant that the reader was still left only with Kyra’s point of view on the events.  The problem with this is that about half way through the story when things really start heating up; most the action is from Kyra’s perspective and when other characters tell her she is wrong; the reader is left in the same boat as Kyra, confused.

      The main story in the book is pretty good and while the end seemed a little forced to me and perhaps the whole thing trailed off much too quickly after the climax; I have to say that  I enjoyed most of my time with the book.  As the first book in what I assume will be a series it is pretty good.  I would definitely like to read a book two if there is one.  I would also like to see some further explanation of the way the world actually works.  Which considering the next book practically cannot be set in D.C. that could be very interesting.

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