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Wake is the first novel in Amanda Hocking's latest series, Watersong. Since I discovered Hocking's wonderful My Blood Approves series and her Trylle trilogy, she has signed with a publisher, meaning her novels are available in print as well as in Kindle ebook format. I assumed that her writing would be as enjoyable as ever, but there was a thought in the back of my mind wondering whether Wake would measure up to her earlier novels.
Hocking's stories tend to be about fantasy characters set in our world, and Wake is no different. Gemma and Harper are sisters living in the small seaside town of Capri, and among the summer tourists are some unsettling visitors, a trio of beautiful and captivating girls, Penn, Lexi and Thea. There have been disappearances in the local area, and while no-one seems to quite trust the girls, they are seen only as unwanted visitors. Then Gemma wakes up after a night on the beach with the girls, and she realises that she has changed.
Wake is a fairly typical set-up for a fantasy series such as this. Life is carrying on as normal, until one character becomes involved with the strangers, and then things begin to change, leading to the climax of the novel. Gemma, Harper and the other characters we meet in Capri are all likeable and sympathetic; while Harper may come across as a bit of a control freak, Hocking makes sure we understand her motivations and doesn't present her as irritating. Gemma is a sweet girl, totally focussed on swimming and her dream of making the Olympics, but sadly that is what draws Penn's attention to her.
In order to avoid spoilers, I won't give away what the supernatural element of Wake is, but suffice to say that Hocking has hit on something which is fresh and different. You won't find any vampires or werewolves on the pages of Wake, or even any of the angel-like characters which have popped up in various forms in other novels. The fantasy side of Wake draws on Greek mythology, and Wake is the first novel I've read featuring this type of character. Although I wouldn't like to state that it is unique or a first, it's certainly likely that most readers won't have read about these characters before.
Hocking's writing style is as enjoyable as ever. She has what you could describe as a casual style, never too heavy or wordy, yet well written and striking exactly the right tone for this type of story. Her main characters are in their late teens, but we are not subjected to lots of teen-speak. While there may be the odd pop-culture reference, this fits in perfectly in the setting.
Wake is a bit of a slow-burner, seeming to take a while to get going, but the set-up is enjoyable and keeps you turning the pages, as the tension builds. She may be a published author now, but Amanda Hocking hasn't lost her ability to create enjoyable and gripping stories populated by great characters.
About the book
Wake is the first book in the Watersong series by Amanda Hocking. The book was published by Tor on 16th August 2012 and the book is 356 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.
Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
Gorgeous. Fearless. Dangerous. They're the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Lexi and Thea have caught everyone's attention--but it's Gemma who's attracted theirs. She's the one they've chosen to be part of their group.
Gemma seems to have it all--she's carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door. He's always been just a friend, but this summer they've taken their relationship to the next level, and now there's no going back. Then one night, Gemma's ordinary life changes forever. She's taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove. They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.
Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price. And as she uncovers the truth, she's is forced to choose between staying with those she loves--or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.
What I thought
There are very few mermaid/ under the sea kind of creature books in the young adult genre which is why I wanted to read this one so much. The premise sounded very different from the other few mermaid books I have read so I was immediately interested.
Wake tells the story of sisters Harper and Gemma although technically, I guess Gemma should be called the protagonist. Harper generally keeps to herself and is the complete opposite of her beautiful, swimmer sister Gemma. Their mother doesn't live with them anymore and Harper has taken it upon herself to play that very role, being very overprotective of Gemma and what she gets up to. I really liked that the two sisters were very different and they had varying interests. It gave each character their own distinct voice and made their personalities clear.
While the beginning of the story is a little drawn out, it sets the scene well. Gemma loves her late night swims and is determined to keep them up even though there has been a few people gone missing recently. While out at the bay swimming, Gemma notices a group of insanely pretty girls, girls who are new in town but have definitely been noticed. Both Gemma and Harper think something is off with these girls but can't quite put their fingers on it. A large chunk of the beginning of the story is spent getting to know the girls and where they live and I think the main plot could have been gotten to quicker.
There are slight romantic themes throughout Wake although they do not overpower the main plot. Love interests Alex (for Gemma) and Daniel (for Harper) were both great characters and again, very different. Daniel is the smouldering older guy who randomly lives on a boat while Alex is the boy next door and also Harper's friend. I have to say, as nice as geeky Alex was, I much preferred Daniel. He seemed like a slight bad boy with a past and someone who could be a whole lot of hot trouble in the future. Alex was just too nice and predictable for me.
So, the main plot. Wake isn't actually about mermaid but Sirens. This was something that I absolutely loved and was very thankful for something different. There is actually quite a lot of background information about the Sirens and where they came from/ why they came to begin with. The mythology behind this new and exciting creature was fantastic and I loved learning more about them. However, I did hate to see Gemma tricked into something she wouldn't have wanted but the end outcome and cliff-hanger was amazing and so exciting.
While I do think Wake could have been better, it was still a really good read and now I'm looking forward to reading the sequel, Lullaby.