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Khanh the Killjoy

The Woken Gods

The Woken Gods - Gwenda Bond While nothing was glaringly bad within this book, it just wasn't entertaining. I didn't enjoy reading it, I didn't have fun with it. However, with all its faults put together, and just the lack of enjoyment that I got out of this book, I can't give it anything more than 2 stars. It doesn't rank as "good" in my eyes. I really wish we could give half stars, because this book is a prime example of one that completely necessitates it. I have a pretty long list of complaints about this book that I will go into further detail along the way.The background was really poorly developed; the premise was interesting, but was never really backed up by solid details and a good history to feel like this wasn't some bullshit pulled out of thin air. The characters were never annoying, but I found them altogether dull, and lacking in personality, and---broken record here, but the romance is utterly forced and indelibly stupid, and the events that transpired, and the credibility of the actions of the people involved were completely unconvincing.The mythology: We have many, many pantheons of gods within this book, from many different cultures and nationalities (although lacking in any Far Eastern gods....sadface). As some of you may know, I am the gatekeeper of mythological accuracy (AS IN DON'T FUCKING SCREW AROUND WITH MYTHOLOGY AND FUCK IT UP BEYOND BELIEF, GODDAMMIT...) *ahem*, and I have very few complaints on how the gods are portrayed within this book. They were accurately depicted regarding their personality and roles. Although I felt that at times, some of the gods' inclusion stretches belief a little bit, they were never completely out of character, and I cannot find much to criticize about their presence and portrayal within the book. The seven major Houses of gods that control the US are composed of trickster gods (and in some cases, messenger/interpreter gods), most of whom fit the role quite well.As far as the gods' houses, we have:- Set: Egyptian god of chaos- Loki: Norse trickster god (red-haired and bearded, and so disappointingly un-Tom Hiddleston, but I'm just projecting my bias a wee bit here)- Coyote: Native-American-based figure, usually represents a troublemaker, a trickster- Tezcatlipoca: Aztec god of discord- Legba: in Haitian voodoo, the voice and intermediary of the gods, can be a trickster, depending on the version of mythology- Enki: Sumerian god of mischief- Hermes: in some versions of mythology, he can be considered a trickster god, but he's more widely known to most of us as the messengerBUT. BUT. Let's make one point clear before you guys start squeeing at the many gods within the book as well as their accuracy: most of the gods do not play a role within this book. The majority of the gods, with the exception of two, barely have a presence in the book at all. I don't even know why I bother to mention and list them when their presence is passive, at best. It's just the myth geek in me talking.I'm so sorry for bringing your hopes up.Here are the problems I have with this book:The plot: I've said it so often this week, but deus ex fucking machina, man. Plots are unfolded too easily, it does not unwind at a credible, reasonable, rational pace. Kyra makes guesses that seems like grasping at straws, and they turn out to be true, with almost absolutely no background information whatsoever. She solves whatever she sets out to solve, and is only foiled at the very end, as she is at the final stages of her plan. Her instincts are all so absolutely perfect. It is just not a believable plot.The romance: Utterly lacking in credibility. Let's get one thing straight: Oz and Kyra are not on the same side. Oz was partly responsible for capturing Kyra's dad, for bringing him in so he can be convicted as a traitor, as a treasonous agent. Kyra's dad (Henry Locke), once captured, will stand for a trial that is with absolutely certainty will see him convicted and put to death for his alleged crimes. Despite knowing that, despite knowing who Oz is as an agent, Kyra falls for him. It is inexplicable, not only because Oz has no personality, as I mentioned above, but because of 1) his role in Kyra's dad's capture, 2) his role as her grandfather's (who also responsible for Henry's capture) ward and protegé, and 3) their absolute lack of a credible connection. They do not bond. They do not have an emotional spark. There is no attraction between them that is anything but telling, anything but words on a page. Their growing affinity are composed of awkward, completely unemotional retellings of their respective families' tragedy. Their interactions were absolutely dispassionate and completely detached. I could see no evidence of a tangible attraction at all, much less the buds of a relationship.The premise: The US, as depicted within this book, is interesting, but the background is thoroughly poorly explained. It is extremely vague, as are the majority of the other elements in this book related to the new world in which these awoken gods rule. In a nutshell, about 5 years ago, the gods awaken. Suddenly, we don't have certain technologies anymore, while others still exist. Cameras still work, so do TV. Cars and planes no longer work, supposedly because they might stop functioning at any moment, but it took a long fucking time for that fact to be---very vaguely---brought up. Meanwhile, I was left ripping my hair out as I wondered what the fuck we are doing using carriages (are they even horse-carriages? 200 pages later...oh, yeah, they are), and why the fuck do we no longer have ice cream (still unclear, by the way).A lot of people are supposed to have died. I didn't get a sense of the devastation, I didn't get a sense of the imminent danger. Everything is stated so vaguely and matter-of-fact, and so little background were given that I just didn't know enough to care. The explanation of what actually transpired (again, FUCKING VAGUELY), were summarized like....200ish pages into the book, within 2 pages, by the lovestruck Kyra and Oz angsting it out with each other.I have so many fucking questions that remains unanswered. There is no indication of what has transpired in the world. It is so very insular, and not even insular within Washington D.C. I don't know if I missed a certain sentence that mentions it within the book, but where the fuck is the president? The Senate? Congress? This is fucking Washington, D.C., people. It is a huge fucking area, and the central seat of the government. What the fuck happened to all those people? What has happened to the US as a whole? What is going on in the US right now? What is the fucking scale of destruction? Why are certain areas of the city abandoned? Why and HOW did the region change so much in socioeconomic status and in belief within the past 5 years.It is not only the past that went unexplained, still, so many things remain unanswered and deliberately vague as to the present governing structure and society after the Gods have awoken. I still don't know what the fuck the Societies do. I still don't have a good, solid answer as to the gods' presence in the world besides their role and presence to inspire fear and worship. I don't know their mentality, I don't know their purpose. They are but figureheads, gods, vague images that I cannot believe in. They still remain mythical.I have to say it, and I fully recognize the irony of this statement: to me, the gods do not feel real and I don't know what the fuck is going on besides the chaos that is Kyra's self-absorbed little life.The characters: It doesn't bode well for the book that the two most likeable characters in it aren't even the main characters within the book. They are Kyra's best friend, and ex, respectively: Bree and Tam. Bree is the spunky best friend, she skates a fine line, but her character never treads the border into annoying territory for me, and I was rather fond of her. Tam is Kyra's other best friend, and interestingly enough, her ex-boyfriend. I have to admit being a little biased about Tam, because he's half Asian, half Vietnamese, to be specific. He's cute, certainly, and he likes Kyra, but their relationship post-breakup is uncomplicated, and sweet. I really loved how Tam confronted his situation with Kyra and cleared away the awkwardness between them so that they remained friends.“When I told you… you know…” he says, and I fill in silently, I love you. He said it and I froze. I broke up with him the next day. “…it wasn’t true. Not yet. You weren’t in this as much as I was and I could tell. So it was a test. I wanted to see if you’d lose it. I know it wasn’t fair.”When Tam said those three words to me I couldn’t imagine saying them back to him. I couldn’t imagine saying them to anyone. I panicked just thinking about being in love with someone, having to worry about losing them too. I can’t be that girl, that starry-eyed girl who falls in love. Anyone I ever love will leave.“You didn’t break my heart,” he says. “You could’ve though.”I am beyond glad I didn’t. Because I do care about Tam, which means we can only be...“Friends, though?”“Friends. Definitely.” Hallelujah! No love triangles! Both Tam and Bree are fiercely protective of Kyra, and they remain steadfastly by her side, despite her faults, despite her many, many faults, which I love.My problem is Kyra: she doesn't deserve their friendship.Kyra and Oz can be lumped together in one word: dull. They may have adventures together, but at their tender ages, their combined personalities feel like that of the married couples who have been together for 20 years and end up watching certain shows on certain nights of the week, doing the Sunday crosswords together over their morning oatmeal, and power-walk in the park wearing red-and-blue-windbreakers with matching headbands.I couldn't bring myself to give a fuck about Kyra. I didn't even feel bad for her and the admittedly horrible situation she has unwittingly been thrown into. Most of it is due to her reaction to things, and her attitude. I feel like Kyra is an altogether self-absorbed character, a special snowflake with a special destiny that's just completely undeveloped and unexplained besides her biological heritage. Her narration has a distinct lack of emotion, of empathy. It is all me, me, me. Poor me, poor me for having a crazy mom. Poor me for having a dad who works too much. Ok, I get it. It's a pretty shitty life, but you know...in context and all, the world being what it is...Kyra seems more than a little self-centered. Her parts of the book are narrated in first-person, and it is due to her faults that I did not get a clear sense of the world, of the chaos, of the supposed horror. It is her lack and her failure as a narrator to make me empathize with Kyra's plight. I don't care about anything that happens to Kyra.Oz is Osbourne, the British love interest, the super-special secret Society agent. At age fucking 18. It is incredible. It is completely unbelievable, and yet another detail that the book fails to clarify so that I can't even begin to justify his presence and his high-ranking role in the book. We are just expected that he's this really, really special fucking snowflake agent without any explanation, because of his heritage? Please. There is a distinction between Oz and other love interests in various YA genres: his absolute lack of a personality. Other male leads in books sometimes suffer from your usual tropes that make me roll my eyes, they're super broody, they're super handsome, they have some SHUPER SPESHUL QUALITY THAT MAKES THE HEROINE FALLS IN LOVE WITH THEM. With Oz, I can't remember anything about him besides the fact that he is a character in the book. He is just that dull, lacking in any quality, good or bad, that makes him memorable. I can't even remember the color of his hair or his eyes. I remember he looks good without a shirt because Kyra says so. That's pretty much it.The major adult characters in the book, like Kyra's dad and her grandfather, are utterly ludicrous. They act irrationally stupid, and it is made even more foolish by the fact that they are both revered, high-ranking Society scholars, as well as their previous work as field agents. I found Kyra's dad's actions particularly foolish, he's trying to protect her, but meanwhile he is hiding so many things from her. As someone intelligent, he should know, of all things, that knowledge is power. Leaving his daughter alone in the dark, without any knowledge regarding her past and his actions, and expecting a teenager to listen to him seems incredibly stupid in so many ways. I cannot comprehend the actions of the adults in this book, and their ridiculous and too-easily-come acceptance of whatever their children say, regardless of the little background information they provide. The adults so rarely question the children's explanations and unreasonable behavior. It is the equivalent of a parent buying a child's explanation of crashing a car because there was a deer in the road, while disregarding the alcohol on their breath.90% of the way through the book, there is a huge need for outside assistance: 3 of the teenaged characters call upon their respective (and very powerful) parents or guardian for help. Within one page each, they get it done. It is fucking dumb how gullible the adults act within the book.One godly character within the book that I loved remained sadly undeveloped.Whatever I was going to say next is stolen by the appearance of the winged creature. It launches out of the temple’s entrance and into the air. Brown and black wings spread wide as it circles above us in lazy swipes. The body belongs to a giant eagle but the head… That’s all lion.“Holy crap,” Bree says.“Tam,” I say, “would that be a chaos monster?”Tam lifts a hand to shade his eyes. "Nah. Anzu. He’s the son of a bird goddess. Part eagle. Enki likes to keep him close. He’s not supposed to be one of the good guys.”Anzu roars loud enough to wake a god.Anzu is assigned to be Kyra's guardian, and this might be a stupid complaint, because he's not even a character that can even speak, but to me, he felt like a character that had the potential to be so much more. No. He remained an uncommunicative monster, a beefcake, a babysitter, instead of being developed into something beyond that. Maybe I'm just seeing things and wishing for something that was never there, but there was a quality about Anzu that I loved that was never strove to be reached.This was an interesting book that had a lot of potential, but failed to engage the reader. The characters were uninteresting to the point of being bores, and the mythology, while interesting and factual, didn't play as much of a major role in the book to make it worth reading.