Wake by Amanda Hocking
Official Summary: “Fall under the spell of Wake—the first book in an achingly beautiful new series by celebrated author Amanda Hocking—and lose yourself to the Watersong.
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 forced to choose between staying with those she loves—or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.”
THIS REVIEW WILL HAVE MINOR SPOILERS
Wake by Amanda Hocking joins the recent resurgence of paranormal stories focused on aquatic creatures. Minor spoiler alert, in this case, the story revolves around what Hocking refers to as sirens, but what many readers will likely come to see as creatures that are a cross between traditional mermaids and sirens. By taking on a less common mythological tale, Hocking does manage to create a story that stands out from the more typical stories of vampires, witches and werewolves that are found in most paranormal young adult books. But, despite this unusual subject matter and Hocking’s unique take on the sirens’ backstory, Wake still feels like a typical paranormal tale, albeit with enough creative elements to both appeal to fans of the genre and still offer something new for those who have grown bored with it.
Wake is primarily the story of Gemma Fisher, a teenage swimmer who has always felt more at home in the water than anywhere. But despite this focus on Gemma, the story alternates between her point of view and that of her sister Harper, which gives the reader a more complete picture of the actions in the book. It also gives the reader a better sense of the contrast between the sister, each of whom have reacted quite differently to their mother’s tragic accident nine years before. Since that time, Harper has felt responsible for Gemma and their father in a way that has defined her personality, leaving her completely focused on taking care of them and herself to the exclusion of any normal teen activities that might distract from this self-imposed duty. Gemma has a similar amount of focus and discipline, but has directed these traits inward, to support her commitment to swimming and her goal of working towards one day making the Olympics.
As the book opens, the girls’ hometown has become the home of three beautiful and strangely menacing girls that seem to have appeared from nowhere. The town has been buzzing over their appearance and the subsequent disappearance of the fourth girl who initially hung around with them. Combined with several recent disappearances, this has left the small town a bit on edge. Making this even more personal to the Fisher sisters, the girls suddenly start showing an unusual interest in Gemma just as one of their own friends joins the list of missing teens. Not even Gemma and Harper know what to make of these events, but as Gemma gets drawn in by the girls more and more, Harper becomes increasingly fearful for her sister and upset that Gemma will no longer explain what is happening. For Gemma, the events of the book will make her choose between these mysterious girls and her family and friends, leaving the reader eager to learn what she will decide. The book ends on a bit of cliffhanger, which will leave readers clamoring for the second book in the series.
Overall, this book is a fresh take on paranormal young adult books. Both the dual perspectives and the choice to focus on sirens made this book feel different than other paranormal books I have read in recent years. While I felt that some of the descriptions of the characters didn’t ring entirely true (for example, Harper’s completely and utterly responsible nature, which she at least claims has never faltered), I think that the entertaining story is more than enough to make readers gloss over any minor deficiencies in the descriptions. Amanda Hocking already has a loyal following from her earlier books, and I think her fans will love this new series but it will also be a great entry point into her work for a whole new group of fans.
Check it Out: Wake will be available on August 7th. If you want to start preparing early, Amanda Hocking has links to both the book’s soundtrack and an excerpt on her website. Fans will be happy to know that Wake is the first book in a four book series, with the next book being released on November 27, 2012.
Readalike: If you haven’t read any of Hocking’s other works, you will definitely want to check those out. Start with book one of Trylle Trilogy, Switched, for more of Hocking’s signature style. If you are taken by the aquatic setting of Wake, try The Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova or, if you aren’t a fan of young adult books, the Jane True series from Nicole Peeler starting with Tempest Rising.
Note: Review based on ARC from publisher.