Awoken, by Timothy Miller

This is a fast, fun YA read that younger teens especially should enjoy. In the middle of the night, Michael Stevens, a boy bounced from one foster care to another, witnesses a cat being killed by strange doll-men. He is frightened to awaken the next night to discover doll-men in his room, insisting that he drink from a cup of stone, and be ‘Awoken’. Things go downhill from there, as bloodthirsty beast-men and intelligent beasts with mismatched eyes (plus one mad scientist) chase him and his friends to obtain a mysterious source of power called earthbone.

The great strength of this book is the swift-moving plot and the ease with which we can sympathize with the main character. His is an easy head to get into, and his to-be-girlfriend, Lina, is well-drawn and engaging. Weaknesses fall into the category of things-you-maybe-shouldn’t-ask-for-because-they-weren’t-aimed-for-either. This isn’t a deep book (nor was it intended to be). The characterization is done in broad strokes. The world-building is plausible but not to the degree of rigor that I personally prefer (though I admit to being a perfectionist when it comes to fantasy elements in a book.) The way the doll-men talk … grates on me a bit, but the effect feels intentional. After all, what’s the point being a great hero if those who call the hero into action don’t TREAT him a bit like a hero? He might decide he’s just the kid who doesn’t have friends and that nobody wants as he’s bounced from one foster home to the next, and then he might not be motivated enough to save the world!

Sit back, enjoy the ride, don’t look at the man behind the curtain, and it’s great fun. It’d be a good book to give to a 12-14 year old who enjoys adventure stories, because that’s what it delivers. An adventure story, with a hero who gets unprecedented powers and uses them to stop the mad scientist, save the world, and incidentally, get the girl.

I got this book at Book Expo America. It is scheduled for release on August 13, 2013.

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