Sunday, July 2, 2017

Review - Eve: The Awakening

Original Title: Eve: The Awakening
Series: Eve, #1
Author: Jenna Moreci
Published: August 12th, 2015

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

I’ve been following Jenna Moreci’s vlog for a while, and every time she mentioned her book, I grew curiouser and curiouser about it, but I just couldn’t get a copy to finally read it, until now. It is my first SciFi novel ever, so I wasn’t sure about what to expect, but I’m definitely impressed. It was amazing! Really good for a first novel! Jenna Moreci is a gifted writer, I will definitely read more by her, and I can’t wait for her second book, The Savior’s Champion, that won’t be a part of the Eve series, but a fantasy romance novel. There's a confirmed release date, and a book trailer is out right now, here.

I’m a huge fan of Jenna Moreci’s vlog, her videos are funny, witty, and brutally honest about what it means to be a writer. I’m not really sure for how long I’ve been watching them, but I like to replay them almost every day, especially when I’m feeling sad or somewhat sick of the world out there. So, this review will mix both my appreciation as a reader and an aspiring writer, based on my experience as both, and some things I saw on Jenna’s vlog. This is especially important (at least for me) because we rarely ever get to know more about the authors than their books and how they worked on them. But here, it’s different. Jenna shares her personal writing experience, her techniques, and her way to see some parts of the whole process, and gives us tips to improve ourselves, and also to get back to earth, not only in how to write certain parts of our novels, but also to forget a little about that perfect fantasy in which you are already a published and successful writer with tons of books and fans, bringing us to reality with brutal honesty, and telling us how being a writer isn’t just about writing, but also marketing, editing, and, let’s be honest, not getting very well paid (which may be not what we want to hear, but we need to). She’s unapologetically herself, and she reflects that in her writing. And in my opinion, a person who isn’t afraid of being herself at all times, and doing what she really wants to, loyal to her own dreams, and in love with her profession, it’s someone worthy of imitation.

But back to Eve! Every character is unique on its own, each one with special talents and personalities, layers and complex lives. I really liked the protagonist, Evelyn Kingston, and one of the best parts was that I could see many things of me on her. Creating a relatable character is key to feel it as a real person, and Eve falls on that place. She has both virtues and flaws, habits that come to the surface when she’s nervous (we all can think a bunch of them of our own, right?), like picking up her cuticles, and she isn’t a dazzling beauty, she’s just your average girl, with brown eyes and hair, and I could mostly relate to her because of the bullying she suffered through her entire life. Obviously, my case wasn’t like Eve’s, and although I was never physically bullied, it did happen on a daily basis, and verbal bullying is equally bad, it should never, ever be dismissed. But that’s another day’s topic. My point is that Eve is a very strong character. She is the only girl taking combat classes, and although she’s often verbally abused by her classmates for the sole fact of being a girl in an entire male class, she knows how to demand respect, and instead of suffering in silence, she kicks her bullies in the ass and leaves them bleeding and hurting. She’s a no-nonsense person. She demands respect, and has no qualms about demanding the answers and explanations she needs, no matter the station of the person she’s dealing with. She can both beat Chin Dimple up in combat class (loved that part), and yell to Billington’s dean in the face, completely unafraid of him. I love her for that. It’s really fun to see her giving the people who are mean to her what they deserve. She’s been through a lot of horrible things, and she won’t take more of that if she can help it. 

As for her nature as a chimera, I’ve seen other reviews referring to Eve being the world’s most powerful chimera as a cliché, but I don’t see it that way. In my opinion, this is well done. I mean, in a world of evolved humans with special abilities, I would definitely want to know the story around the most powerful of them all, especially considering how regular people despise them. I just hope that in future books we get some kind of explanation around the reason of this evolution of humans into some sort of super-humans (humanovus). Are they evolved so they can fight interlopers, as some sort of natural adaptation to the new threat? That’s only one of my questions. An especially good bonus point is that Eve already knows her powers and instead of reading about her discovering them and learning how to control them, we get to see her in full control of them, and how she teaches someone else to do it (even when nobody taught her, she learned on her own). However, there’s something I don’t fully understand. I can see why people hated and bullied Eve, she has a history around the accident in which her parents died, and she couldn’t control her powers, killing the man who crashed his truck on their car. But I don’t fully understand why people hate chimeras so much. It’s not their fault to have been born like that, but still, I think that, in any case, chimeras should be the ones hating humans, because they are the evolved ones, and hence, superior to them.

As I said, there’s an entire cast of characters that made me laugh and gasp out loud. The sarcastic hacker, JJ, is really interesting, key to the success of their quest, and I definitely want to know more about her backstory, so I hope there’s more about her in future books. Sancho is also really witty, funny, and with a bit of a mad scientist, obsessed with weapons and blowing up things; he says balls every time something goes wrong, it’s hilarious! And he’s loyal to death, he didn’t doubt it when he had to stay back to give their friends the opportunity to escape, and I really feared for his life. I literally left out a sigh of relief when I found out he was alive. And of course, Percy, my dear Percy LaFleur! I utterly loved him! It’s the first time I read an openly gay character, as in other books, they are always secretive about it, but this one is just frank, and amazingly captivating. Rich, eccentric, and proud of it, he’s as capable of shooting an alien in the face as to take you in a one-day trip to New York in his private jet. He’s also a loyal friend, and his date with Madison is the funniest scene of his, and probably in the whole book. Oh, the lengths you go to help your friends, and also thwart an evil menace of winged aliens!

The fight scenes are AWESOME! I don’t know how to describe them, you need to read the book to understand what I mean, but I can tell you feel every punch, every shot, every gasp and scream! And the interlopers’ buildup and anatomy is brilliantly written. I could totally visualize in my head how their fangs protruded from their jaws, protecting their life source, and their overall scary aspect. The whole plot around the beacon, the torq, and the second skin… Pfff! AMAZING!! The final battle, in the interlopers’ lair, is everything you can imagine, and obviously, it is greatly written, with the exact amount of dialogue and action required for it to be fast-paced and climatic, keeping you at the edge of your seat. I won’t say anything more, you need to read it to understand how much. I would like to cover all the details, but I can’t. I just would like to mention the scene at the Meltdown, the chimera club. It bothers me when people in books do not connect the dots, I mean, you found out that interlopers are disguised as humans, hunting for chimeras and dissecting them, but you don’t think that it may be some of them in a place literally full of chimeras, openly displaying their abilities? But again, only Eve and her friends know about it, so I’ll let it sly.

On the other hand, we have the villains of the story, aside from Fairon and the interlopers. They are amazingly well written, as I truly got to hate them all, especially Madison Palmer. She’s a rich, spoiled, child-like bully, who has her life mapped out in front of her, which includes marrying an equally rich guy from her list of possible suitors. I didn’t fully like the words she uses, like barftastic and suckgasmic, but again, she’s the only one who uses them, so they are a reflection of her character. And she’s relatable, in the way that we all know at least three or four Madison Palmers in our daily lives (at least, I do). As for her condition… Yeah, big surprise. Well done, Jenna! Only one thing about her: when Eve found the ashes on Madison’s bed, it was a bit too obvious. I mean, you scribble DIE CHIME in the walls of an entire classroom, but you don’t want to give yourself away, so you spread the ashes in your bed? Right. It was clear that it wasn’t Madison’s doing, because she wouldn’t give herself away that easily. She’s not very clever, but she’s definitely smarter than that.

Heather McLeod is a whole case in herself. She’s also evil, but her malice is cold, and calculated. She’s more machine-like, she goes for her own interests, and I can’t wait for a scene in which Eve gets to kick her ass as she deserves. She’s smart, and scary, and knows when to act, especially if there’s an open wound, and she just has to dig a little deeper to cause more pain, on her favor, obviously. The thing is that, as I read about her and saw how hateable she was, I admit that I considered the possibility that she was an interloper, but then I realized that it was a misleading clue. Again, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t buy it for a big part of the book, but after a few chapters I just knew I should be looking elsewhere, she was the ideal interloper in disguise, so I turned my eyes towards those who seemed too nice, like Professor Clarke, who publicly defended Eve after her humiliation, because, who would do that for a chimera if there’s not a hidden purpose behind it?

As for Hayden, I suspected something wrong with her, simply because she followed Madison around like a lapdog, doing exactly what she was told, and then, she ended up under Heather’s thumb. I found myself thinking, “no, she’s not worth a thing, it can’t be her”, and then, for that very thing, I realized that it was exactly the wrong thing to think; the lapdog would show her fangs at some moment.

And we get to my favorite part! The love story! The bonus point is that there’s no love triangle. Of course, Jenna says that they are the dumbest thing ever, and I agree, so I was sure (and grateful) she wouldn’t write any of that in her novel. Eve and Jason’s story is truly beautiful and it had me rooting for them the entire book. They fall in love with one another through their tutoring sessions, when Jason’s power as a chimera awakens, after having been kidnapped and dissected by interlopers. It may have happened somewhat quickly, but it’s ok. I liked it, anyway, and a lot! Eve has a really hard time letting people in, she’s been bullied and abused her entire life, and being with Jason, she discovers she doesn’t have to pretend to be anything she isn’t. She understands that he wouldn’t hurt her, and finds someone who cares for her and wants to be with her exactly for who she is. She doesn’t make a single effort for him to like her, she just does what she has to, and there’s a no-pretending relationship between them. She never puts up masks when he’s there, she’s purely herself, and they get to know one another at their worst, openly expressing their feelings and opinions. Virtues, flaws, and fears, Jason truly wants everything she is and loves her exactly for those things the world hates her for. He understands that she’s someone not to mess with, and she doesn’t treat him like a weak, sick person, but goes straightforward and tells him all the truths about his nature as a chimera. She opens him to this new world in which he definitely will suffer, as he struggles to dominate his powers, and there’s also a public image to maintain, as his father is a very powerful politician, and considers his name and family tainted by his own son’s nature. But Eve becomes his strength, his reason to fight, the fuel to his fire. One insult towards her is enough for him to go full chimera. His scene beating Chin Dimple up was theproof of his love, because it was the ultimate trigger he needed to unleash his gift towards him and punish him. Needless to say, it was a great scene. And their first kiss! I read it few times and I love how they don’t fight against their feelings once they acknowledge them, knowing that they both want this… I eagerly wait for more scenes with Eve and Jason together, I loved them with all my heart! 

In her vlog, Jenna says that dialogue is a strong point of hers, and that is clearly visible. Most dialogues are written with little or no narrative, and it flows, reflecting the character’s emotions through it. They are strong, and you can practically imagine the characters’ voices in your head, whatever they are saying. And although she says she hates setting the scene and most forms of narrative, she's still good at them! But there’s one thing I especially want to mention, that happens right at the start of the novel. Jenna tells us all we need to know about chimeras right from the get go. She throws all the information we need to understand Eve’s nature, and that isn’t something I fully criticize –everyone has their own style–, but still, I would have done things a bit differently. As an aspiring writer, I’ve been writing since I was ten years old, and I’ve developed my own personal style. I believe that, if you have created an entire race of beings, or in this case, a group of evolved humans, and know everything about them, you shouldn’t give away every single piece of information at the first possible opportunity. You shouldn’t use all your bullets in one shooting, because, that way, you can create surprises and plot twists to use in the future, that will help you surprise your readers, and engross them even more into the story. As the author, you should know way more than you give away, and keeping things to yourself can help you create new powers and abilities that will help in the deepening of this characters’ nature. But that’s just my opinion. 

Another thing I noticed, that it is also mentioned in the vlog, is the very strict outlining. I never truly outlined, I made plans for my stories, but I never strictly followed a previously structured plotline. In my personal opinion, writing should be a mix between outlining, and letting the story flow. I know that just letting it flow on its own can cause plot holes, and other nasty things, but a really structured outline from which I cannot look away…? It’s not for me (at least for now, that may change someday, who knows?). Part of the beauty in writing is to see the character take a shape that perhaps wasn’t what you planned. In short, you should have a plan, but also cut yourself some slack, and at some parts, let your characters tell you some of their story. But that’s just my humble opinion.

Finally, not much left to say (like I haven’t said enough already), except, read this book! And take a look at Jenna's vlog –especially if you are an aspiring writer–, here. If you love SciFi, it is for you! Perhaps I should warn you that it contains a lot of swearing, lots of blood and violence, and some mature content, that I wasn’t completely happy to read, but still, it’s an utterly good book, and you should give it a try! I will, for sure, read the next installments of the series! 


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