Wake (Watersong #1) by Amanda Hocking
Amanda Hocking is one of those authors that surprises me. Based on the dust-jacket descriptions of her books, I have had the tendency to go in with relatively basic expectations—this will be a book I can get through, but it might not be all that original. I remember distinctly thinking that about her The Trylle Trilogy when I read it about a year ago, and, to be honest, the only reason I even read them then is because my mom had gotten them on our kindle account and I was in a mood for something fae-related. I tore through all three books in just a couple of days, but I figured it was somewhat of a fluke when I tried Hocking’s Hollows series and couldn’t even finish the first book. That must have just been the topic (never have been a big fan of zombies), because I just got through Wake in a single day. Admittedly, I’ve been laying in bed with a migraine all day, hiding from the world and listening to this on audiobook, but that’s not the point. And maybe that’s even more telling—I have a hard time staying focused on anything when these kind of migraines hit, and this book just sucked me right in and wouldn’t let go.
This is another one of those where I have a tough time putting my finger on what exactly worked for me. The plot was original, which is great, though I will say that, as with the Georgina Kincaid series, there’s an awful lot of focus on awkward relationships more than the overarching plot. The supernatural creatures of this world are the sirens, right out of Greek mythology, and they are very developed creatures, in the sense that I’m fairly certain that Hocking has thought out every single detail about them and we readers can only hope to see most of their world. She tied them back to the original mythology and added on her own layers to bring this story into the modern world. I could easily picture these sirens sitting on a rock in The Odyssey hundreds of years ago, just as well as I could place them in a touristy beach town in modern-day US. No detail was spared, and I can’t wait to learn more about these sirens as we continue with the series.
The characters shone though, and I found that I really cared about their awkward relationships, a tough thing to do when we’re talking about 16-year old on the verge of her first potentially serious relationship. To be quite frank, I can’t relate well to that. I didn’t have my first serious relationship until college. And, honestly, Gemma, the main character, and I have very little in common, nor could I really empathize with any of the supporting characters out of a shared life experience. Normally when I feel a very strong connection to the characters in a book, there is at least one person who I relate to very strongly, and that helps fuel my understanding of the other characters. With the Georgina Kincaid books, for instance, that person is Seth—his strange quirks he has as a writer hit pretty close to home with me, especially his awkward social skills (and I’m picking on this book as my example because I just finished it and it’s fresh).
So if it’s not a shared experience that makes these characters shine so much to me as a reader, what is it? I suspect it has to do with how these characters react to the events around them that makes them so vivid—they break down when appropriate, and don’t necessarily fixate on the same irritating thing over and over the way so many authors in the genre lean toward. I may have to hunt this down in book form and actually read it (when I don’t have a migraine) and pay closer attention. This is a skill that I believe Hocking excels at, and I would like to try to learn from her.
Hocking is rapidly securing herself a lengthy place on my virtual bookshelf (and maybe my real one too, though I already have several in e-book format and may just continue the trend) at the rate she’s going.