Sunday, April 9, 2017

R&R Review and Interview Sunday: The Awakening by D.J. Torres


The Nature of Gods #1

Goodreads Blurb:
"When gods and goddesses abruptly overthrow Earth, humans are given two choices – worship or die. Desperate to survive, Olivia and her family devote their days to fulfilling the will of the gods. But the wrath of the gods is insatiable and unpredictable. With her hope crushed, Olivia is resigned to her bleak fate . . . until she meets Nature.

Immediately, Olivia knows this charismatic girl with color-changing eyes isn’t normal. Nature looks like a teenager yet she has the power to control the weather and converse with animals. Nature opens Olivia’s eyes to a hidden world that had always existed in harmony with her own. However, know-it-all butterflies and mystical creatures aren’t the only secrets revealed as Olivia discovers the dark plan of the gods.

When Nature decides to confront the gods, Olivia is catapulted to the forefront of humanity’s battle for survival. Olivia must rely on her courage, strength, and newfound gifts as she faces monster-infested pathways and ever-looming traps. But does she have enough courage or skill to battle brutal gods eager to rule the world and dole out punishment to anyone who defies them? Nature and the world depend on it."



Review:
Thank you to the author, D.J. Torres, for gifting me with a copy of The Awakening in exchange for an honest review!

This book took me on a roller coaster of ratings.  At first, I loved it, then that feeling declined a bit, then I felt extremely annoyed by the main character, and then there was a bright side to it all.  Let me explain:

1.  The characters.  Let me start with the main character, Olivia.  As I said in my intro, I went on a roller coaster with this book and one of the major dips was because of Olivia's attitude and her unwillingness to fight for the greater good.  She says she's brave and that she wants to stand by Nature but she freaks out as soon as she's faced with the reality of that choice.  Now at first, this irked me beyond belief.  How could someone be so blas√© about their decisions??  Then, Goldzy came along.  He's kind of like Olivia's eternal well of knowledge and advice that Nature gives to her (I'm going to keep it at that) and he saved Olivia's personality from my irritation.  He and Olivia keep up such a banter with him always criticizing what I just was talking about with her complete hypocrisy and that banter made me realize something: in YA, we're always faced with characters who have an eternal pool of brave to pull from and while they may be scared sometimes, they always pull it together.  There aren't many characters that are consistently terrified and annoy the heck out of you.  I think that's relatively realistic, though.  I mean, how many of you, at 16, would be willing to take on nature powers and battle a Fire God?  We all like to say we would but in reality, we would be freaking out.  So while Olivia's attitude annoyed me at first, her interactions with Goldzy (an amazing character himself) convinced me it isn't such a terrible thing.

I also enjoyed reading about the rest of the characters and learning about their particular individual motivations.  I especially loved how the author included a way to tie in the gods' plans in everything and why they were terrorizing Earth (although the answer for why they were doing it at this particular point in time is yet to be revealed).  The reader spends most of the time with Nature and Olivia so I got to know them both rather well and their mannerisms and such.

2.  The plot.  Generally speaking, the plot was well formed with the typical hero's journey pathway (which is a winner considering it made Star Wars the franchise that it is).  For some reason though, it was missing that drive that made me want to keep reading.  While I wanted to know what would happen to Nature and Olivia and the Earth, I also felt a little removed from the Earth itself.  Olivia and Nature are still on Earth fighting these gods and demons but I lost the locations along the way which I think could have been a vital grounding piece for this book.  Nature and Olivia seem to just meander off into unknown places that aren't grounded in reality.  However I did enjoy the journey (and the ending!).

3.  The writing.  One of my favorite things about this book was the writing.  I think the author has an excellent voice that's expressed wonderfully through the novel.  I loved the sarcasm and imagination and general ease of the read.  I didn't feel hindered in any way and each of the characters felt like themselves.

4.  The nature powers/the idea.  One element I wish had slightly more development was Nature's powers and how exactly she controls nature how she does.  In the book, she simply does, however she has to teach Olivia and we don't really get any details on how Olivia is able to do these things (or what the meaning is behind any of the tools Nature gives to Olivia - aka crazy tattoo).  It was cool, don't get me wrong.  Any time there people able to harness trees and wind and such for the forces of good, I'm in.  I just wish there was more development into the mechanics.  I did love the idea of Mother Nature being a force in the universe and a 'god' so to speak.  I also loved Mother Nature's connection to the 'gods' that were terrorizing the humans.  It was such a different twist on an old topic and I loved how the author utilized the twist.

The Final Verdict:
A novel with a truly enthralling idea and concept with well-developed characters and immersive writing.  I do wish there was more drive to the plot and a more cultivated knowledge of the technicalities of 'nature power'.
4 stars


Quotes:
"'I'm your Kahu,' he answered with a huff. 'My commission now places me atop your head,'"


"'Good,' Goldzy said bluntly.  'We're about to confront the most powerful monsters that have ever walked the earth.  Scared is an appropriate emotion.'"


"Don't talk to it,' Goldzy admonished, his wing slapping the top of Olivia's head. 'I will, however, allow you to kick dirt in its face.'"


"'I don't know if you noticed, but something tried to eat my leg,'
'It's not like you didn't get it back,' Goldzy retorted."




Meet the Author
I’m a young writer who loves anything fantasy related. My hope is to inspire imaginations and create new fantasy worlds for people who are just like me; those who love to escape into new worlds, embark on adventures, and meet uniquely awesome characters.

Some fun things about me . . . I’m a huge fan of desserts, soy vanilla lattes, and binge watching T.V. I feel like I never grew out of the middle grade awkward stage of life, but I am strangely okay with that.

I have one spoiled pup named Gunny. He’s perfect.

Speaking of which, I love animals. Giraffes. Rhinos. Dolphins. If I can feed or pet anything, I will be the first in line.

My three greatest loves are Jesus, people, and writing.

Connect:


Interview:


1.  How would you describe The Awakening in 5 words or less?

Ancient Gods vs. Fierce Girls




2.  What inspired you to be a writer? What inspired The Awakening in particular?

I have always loved to write, but I never felt like I had a story to tell. After hearing a song, visions of the story started to play through my mind. I started thinking about ancient gods in modern times, their relevancy to the world, as well as the world’s relevancy to the gods. Then I knew that I finally found my story to tell.



3.  What is your favorite part of writing in the fantasy genre?  Would you ever want to write a book outside of the fantasy genre?

I love the fantasy genre because of the freedom you can take when creating a world. It allows you to create and share something that has never existed before.

While I love fantasy, I am not married to it. I would enjoy taking on other genres for the sheer adventure of challenging myself. Romance? Comedy? Who knows where inspiration will lead me, but I am ready to follow.



4.  What is your favorite part of the writing process?

There is nothing better than going to a coffee shop, ordering that soy vanilla latte, putting on your headphones, playing that masterly crafted playlist, and then just letting the story flow out. I feel way less enthusiastic about editing. That requires a whole lot more coffee and multiple rounds of sweet treats.



5.  How long did it take to write The Awakening?

To say patience is a virtue is a huge understatement. It’s been about seven years since the idea was first sparked. It has been quite the journey. I wrote, rewrote, and kept on writing until I found my voice.



6.  Why did you choose to write about gods?  Any favorite ancient god in particular?

I’ve always had an interest in mythology, specifically the unique personalities that are attributed to the gods. The concept that our world is ruled by these fickle gods who are just as messed up as we are, or even worse, makes for interesting characters.

I hate to play favorites, but I have a soft spot for Zeus. He’s the most human, but also the most powerful god out of all the gods in Greek mythology, which makes him a neat conundrum, and I love me a good conundrum.



7.  Did you plan out the whole book beforehand or did you discover it as you went?

The concept was there from the start. The details not so much. The truth is that I just had to keep writing. Sometimes the story would take good turns and other times it would plow straight into a ravine. But, eventually, I got to the right paths that propelled the story forward.



8.  What fictional world would you want to live in?

I feel like my answer is a slight cop-out because who doesn’t want to attend Hogwarts and be the Captain of a House Quidditch team? Surprisingly, I think I would be most like Hagrid. I’d be a safe haven for all those exotic creatures. I hope I would smell slightly better than him, though. 


9.  Any new projects?
Book 2 of The Nature of Gods is currently in the works! I am really excited with where the story is going. I also have a few other stories floating around in my brain. Perhaps a twist on superheroes is in my writing future.



10.  Any advice for aspiring writers?

Brutally honest people are one of your greatest assets, but they can also be your biggest liability. When I write, I get such tunnel vision. It’s important to have people that can give me brutally honest feedback, but it’s also important to stay true to the story. So my advice is to find people to read your work who are willing to give you constructive criticism. Be receptive to that criticism (which can be hard) and then decide how those notes fit into your story. Do they add to the story? Do they take away from the story?

And as someone who has worked seven years to publish a book, I think the best advice is to never give up.


Thanks for the interview, D.J.!

6 comments:

  1. Sounds like and interesting premise. Maybe the execution needs a little help? I always have to remind my self that as a teen I was a whiny little brat when I read YA books.
    Great interview too!

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    1. Just a bit, yeah. It was great, but it felt like it was missing that special piece to make it go, you know? Haha I also have to remind myself of that! I probably won't even be able to read MG or younger YA books in a few years because I won't be able to look at it objectively anymore. Thankfully, that day hasn't yet arrived. Thanks for stopping by, Jenny!

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  2. Ooh, it's always interesting when your name happens to be the same as that of the main character! And the funny thing is that I would be the same as Olivia. I would want to do the right thing, but diving into it would be especially difficult for me. I would hesitate... I know myself too well xD

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    1. Yes it is! Are you sure you didn't go on an adventure to save the world recently?? :D Thanks for stopping by, Olivia!

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  3. What an interesting and unique premise! I think I'd love the banter between Olivia and Goldzy..Also omg I completely agree with the authors about why I like to write fantasy! The freedom to create everything from scratch is just wonderful :) Great review and interview Laura :)

    Uma@Books.Bags.Burgers.

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    1. I thought so as well! I hadn't read a sarcastic book in a while and I have to say, I enjoyed Olivia and Goldzy's conversations immensely. It really is :) Thanks for stopping by, Uma!

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