Life in suburban Long Island is simple and content for Aurora Marx. She has a comfortable home with doting parents and a pesky but loving older brother. She spends her days with a devoted group of close friends as they wait out the summer days before starting seventh grade, doing all the normal stuff like hanging out at each other’s houses and going to the food court and mLife in suburban Long Island is simple and content for Aurora Marx. She has a comfortable home with doting parents and a pesky but loving older brother. She spends her days with a devoted group of close friends as they wait out the summer days before starting seventh grade, doing all the normal stuff like hanging out at each other’s houses and going to the food court and movies at the local mall. Why would she want to change a thing? She definitely wouldn’t rock the boat by applying to boarding school, yet somehow she finds an acceptance letter on her bed from Mystic Academy of the Arts. Immediately intrigued, Aurora feels inexplicably drawn to the school, and when her parents let her enroll, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. Mystic is no ordinary school, not even for practicing magic, so Aurora finds herself rubbing elbows with witches, vampires, werewolves, demons, sprites, even ancient gods—and she’s one of them! Despite the excitement and joys of her new life at Mystic, though, someone or something is after her, and the evil her enemies threaten to unleash might destroy everything and everyone Aurora loves....
|Number of Pages||:||258 Pages|
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In the post-Harry Potter world, the motif of a young teenager discovering and mastering his or her magical powers in a school or school-like setting has become a well-established sub-genre in fantasy and young adult lit. It’s fruitful ground, to be sure, producing series that have become near-instant classics, including Pullman’s Dark Materials and Riordan’s Percy Jackson. In fact the wizard-school narrative has become so high profile, I confess I came to Tempest Saunders’s Awakened with some skepticism. What could this book do that hasn’t already been done?As it turns out, Saunders has found a great many ways to put a new spin on the supernatural teenager, starting with her heroine Aurora Marx. The most striking thing about Aurora is how ordinary she is. She comes from a fully intact upper-middle-class nuclear family: mom, dad, snarky big brother. She lives in a Long Island suburb where she has a close, and somewhat large, friend group—she might even be one of the popular kids in her middle school. Unlike so many of her literary predecessors, Aurora isn’t an orphan or a troubled misfit. Her mainstream origins make her highly relatable. She could have been one of my friends in junior high; she could be one of yours. Of course, Aurora isn’t totally “normal” though, and she discovers her special powers when she is accepted to Mystic Academy of the Arts, which turns out to be a school for, yes, witches and sorcerers… and also sprites, demons, lycanthropes, vampires, demi-gods, gods, and just about any other mythical entity you can think of. Despite the fantastical nature of the student body, though, the school itself is a prototype of a New England boarding school: dorms, classroom buildings, an athletic complex with a running track. The students study magic, potion making, and archery, but they still have to learn algebra too. Saunders blends the legendary and the mundane in a mostly seamless fashion, and that blend is what makes Aurora’s story powerful. While Aurora is learning about her new powers and making new friends at school, she also has to remember to email her old friends and call her parents back home. Sure, Aurora can control the elements and is instinctively good with a sword, but she also has to learn about making deposits at the local bank branch and using credit cards responsibly. And as the forces of evil gather and target Aurora in their plot to end the world as we know it, she still has to remember to eat and get rest so she can face the challenges of battle. Although some of the sequences of day-to-day living can run a little long, they’re balanced with some truly nail-biting action. As Aurora struggles to manage the two sides of her life, the story becomes as much about the process of growing up, living on your own, and moving out of your comfort zone as it is about the epic conflict of good versus evil.
Excuse the preamble but I think this is one of those occasions where the extreme subjectivity of the reading experience is playing a large part in the formulation of my opinion. Did I engage with the story? Yes, most definitely - the fact that I devoured it in around twenty-four hours (limited time during which I also work full time, write, do various martial arts and try and sleep!) really speaks highly for the story as a whole entity. I liked Aurora for the most part - I even liked her when I felt she was making what I felt to be foolish decisions - so there was a definite hook there for me. The subject matter too, is also very much part of my remit. So where did it fall down? Well it didn't exactly. I think it is just one of those rare occasions where despite my broad tastes in literature, the author's personal voice and style failed to grab me, or rather I failed to grasp them. It comes down to difference of opinion. I personally wanted a more thoroughly evoked magical world; I also wanted all the weird and fabulous creatures to be more fully used and explored as regards abilities and habits (in fairness this is only book one and doubtless some of the information I crave will emerge in subsequent volumes.) Considering the length of the book, I also would have preferred fewer characters - at least used, active characters - but with more emphasis on those who were active. At points I felt as if I'd jut started to get to know a character and they were whisked away - or worse. These things are all a matter of an author's personal style and are not criticisms in themselves. It's not wrong for me to not get exactly what I want, after all! (And it's possible that I am just outside the target demographic.)The things that were done well, were done very well indeed. The sheer imagination and creativity behind what (despite my preferences) looks to be the start of a promising series, coupled with the research involved is somewhat awe inspiring. And I confess that I do want to know what happens next so I probably will read book two.My real quibbles are with the way in which Aurora just accepts her abilities as if someone has just told her she has an aptitude for physics. I was expecting a bit more of a reaction. I agree with a previous reviewer that the mundane, home-life scenes ran a little too long at times but I also agree that the action does counter-balance this. I found the dialogue a bit exposition heavy. I would have preferred more actual description and less plot explained via dialogue. The ... er...body count also seemed unnecessarily high...Overall a pretty gripping read with an interesting and refreshingly untraumatized young teen protagonist. I would have put this at the mid-grade reading level except for a few swear words but would say it definitely sits at the younger end of the YA spectrum. Fans of Alison Noel will love this.
I loved this book! Awakened combines supernatural battles with the everyday drama that comes with being a young adult. Rora and her friends are great characters who are easy to imagine yourself hanging out with. This book has adventure, humor, and sorrow all at the same time. I can't wait to read the next one!
Fun, clever take on the supernatural academy/schools for the gifted concept that's become a popular trend in YA lit. It's hard not to draw comparisons to Harry Potter, but this story has unique characters and plot twists that separate it from others in this genre. While I wasn't nec the target audience for this, I think it would be a great book for teens/YA as it instills positive themes about self expression, facing ones fears, embracing differences and overcoming obstacles. I look forward to future entries in this series.
I was given a copy of this book for free for reviewing purposes. I really wanted to like this book. It has an interesting premise and interesting world building for a post Harry Potter world where schools are full of vampires and horrors. Where my problem lay, however, was the fact that the kids in this book, especially the heroine are in seventh grade. It just seems more like the kids should have been sixteen or older for how they behave and how the world treats them in this book. How they act and how the world treats them really drew me out of this book. I hate hate hate to use the words "Mary Sue" but the lead in this book reminds me of reading all those Harry Potter fanfics where everyone's related and secretly rich and has a million powers. I understand the need for self-inserts in fiction, but I wish the author's editor had sat her down and said "just tone it down a bit, and expand on the world building." If they had, this would have been a much better and stronger book. I think the author and the series has potential, but I'm not going to be seeking other stories out. This one was enough.
This book is for fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. It is geared to the YA audience and is a readable book, however it isn't as well crafted book as either of the above series and the improper language is not necessary nor conducive to the story in the several places it appears. The book is an ok read to pass the time and gets better at the end of the book, but doesn't "grab" the reader from the first.I received this book free from Goodreads First Reads.