Summed that up fairly quickly, didn't I? I really wish author Cast had done the same. For the first half of the book, I kept wondering where we were going and how we were going to get there...if we would indeed get anywhere at all. However, once the action reverts to the House of Night, things pick up nicely and my original score of 3 stars got bumped to 4 (despite a few qualms I chose to overlook).
What I liked: When Awakened works, it works really well. The fighting is described well and some of the relationships (Jack and Damien, Zoey and Stark, Aphrodite and Darius) are genuine and well written. With the shift back to Tulsa, the story picks up steam, with a good resolution for S.R. and Bird Boy. In many ways, the story is now becoming more of a team effort, and that is very good. And the grief is shown and dealt with realistically. And thank you to whomever for cleaning up most of the editing errors in this book! Nary a misused word or a strangely shifting POV in sight. High marks for that!
What I disliked: If I allowed myself to dwell on these factors, I'd probably drop my score back down again. Number one, which many have discussed,is the use of slang and pop culture references. There's no quicker way to date a series than to throw in references to current television shows and music. Besides,it's just unnecessary for the plot and it doesn't make any character more identifiable. I also felt that the pacing needs to pick up ASAP. The whole book took place in around 36 hours or so...this is the longest winter in history! Maybe we're back on track now that the scene has shifted. Of course I dislike Neferet and Kalona and wish they'd take a long walk off a short pier but honestly they are such caricatures at times I want to roll my eyes.
Big qualifier: Lots of sex in this one. While not majorly graphic, you do know what's going on and how it feels. Towards the end, there's even a bit of roughness (setting us up for a Kalona entering Stark scenario). I'm not against sex but I do think it's mostly another unnecessary distraction. I'm not judging; I just think we should at least be discussing some birth control, people.
Overall, while this is not the best book in the series, it certainly picks up the pace once all the summarizing/lollygagging is over. I hope Cast is considering wrapping this series up quickly, though I doubt it. There's only so much padding that her fans are willing to go through. And while I enjoyed this installment, this series is no longer an auto-buy for me because it's just too uneven.
Okay, I've talked myself back down to 3 stars. Sometimes a book cannot withstand too much scrutiny.