About the book
Cal MacDonnell is a happily married New York City cop with aloving family. Seth Raincrest is a washed-up photographer who has alienatedeven his closest friends. The two have nothing in common—except that they bothsuffer from retrograde amnesia. It’s as if they just appeared out of thin airthirteen years ago, and nothing has been able to restore their memories. Nowtheir forgotten past has caught up to them with a vengeance.
Cal’s and Seth’s lives are turned upside down as they arestalked by otherworldly beings who know about the men’s past lives. But thesecreatures aren’t here to help; they’re intent on killing anyone who gets intheir way. In the balance hangs the life of a child who might someday restore abroken empire to peace and prosperity. With no clue why they’re beinghunted, Cal and Seth must accept the aid of a strange and beautiful woman whohas promised to unlock their secrets. The two must stay alive long enough toprotect their loved ones, recover their true selves—and save two worlds fromtyranny and destruction.
Awakenings launches a captivating fantasy saga byan amazing and talented new storyteller.
Publishedon: August 30, 2011
Thanks to Tor for sending me a copy of this book to review.
Iwasn’t amazingly excited to read Awakenings,if for no other reason than the fact that it is a contemporary fantasy and Ihave horrible luck with contemporary fantasy. It was another one of those booksI pushed to the top of my reading pile to “get it over with” quickly. However,I seem to be striking it lucky recently in this respect, as most of the booksI’ve regarded this way have ended up being rather enjoyable. This is nodifferent.
Theprologue of the book is rather deceptive in the fact that it sets up Awakenings to be a dirty, dingy mystery some crooked PI is trying to solve, despite a myriad of troubles thrown hisdirection. Quickly the reader discovers that this isn’t the case. While the PIand his employer do enter the story a few more times throughout the book, theyaren’t lead characters by any means. Despite this, Lazellari’s writing keepsthe same tone the reader is introduced to in the prologue, but the noir feelalmost completely disappears.
Lazellari’swriting is surprisingly polished for a debut novel and contains quite a barbedand almost sharp edge. Furthermore, there aren’t any awkward words or stumblingsentences and even has a few moments of dark humor. He keeps his novel, characters and pace tightly controlled and evermoving forward, which is good considering all that happens in this 348 page book.While Awakenings is told from theperspective of multiple characters with different personalities, the one thingevery page has in common is the dark, uncensored, almost raw quality of Lazellari’swriting.
Theone thing Lazellari seems to excel at is writing descriptive, poignant violentscenes that are almost haunting with their eerie or bloody evocative tones.While some of the gory actions did border on the campy side, the way Lazellari wroteit made it seem almost haunting, even if it wasn’t completely believable.
Awakenings follows the story of threemajor characters, with other points of view thrown in. It’s obvious from thestart who the main characters are, as they are three dimensional and verywell fleshed out. Some of the secondary characters and, specifically, the “badguys” seem like cardboard cutouts when compared to Cal, Seth and Daniel. Themain characters have a sense of mystery around them, and when following theirstories it’s obvious that the title, Awakenings,fits the book perfectly as each character is discovering who they are and their mysterious pasts.
However,perhaps due to the fact that the characters aren’t completely aware of theirtrue natures, the book has a very muddled feel to it. For example, the magicsystem remains rather vague throughout the book, though I attribute that to thefact that the characters aren’t quite aware of magic, themselves. Awakenings is also obviously a setup forother books in the series. It sets up the characters, background and theworld, and while events happen at a quick pace and the writing is absolutelyabsorbing, Awakenings itself seemsmore like a prologue to the rest of the series than anything else. Case andpoint, the ending is more of a setup for book two than an actual ending, whichis something that is pointed out in almost every review for this book writtenso far. That can be incredibly frustrating to some readers, who preferstand-alone books and/or solid endings.
Thatbeing said, Awakenings, despite itsflaws, is a surprisingly absorbing adventure. The writing is solid and fluid.The book itself has a raw quality to it that will appeal to many readers.Though Awakenings does read more likea prologue to a series, the series itself has huge potential to be a multi-dimensionalepic fantasy. Awakeningscrosses multiple genres from noir to contemporary and even has hints oftraditional fantasy. Lazellari has great potential as a fantasy writer. Theidea is fresh and new and even though the ending left me wanting and some ofthe characters were a bit two dimensional, I will anxiously read the otherbooks in this series to see where Lazellari can take me next.