Amanda Hocking was actually my first foray into the ebook world a few years back, her Trylle series being the first I purchased when I got a Nook. I’ve mentioned this series previously, in my Self-Publishing post, and I love love loved it, so I tried out her other series as well.
Here’s my big issue with Amanda Hocking: I love her writing, but she’s inconsistent as heck. In her interviews, she’s spoken about how she’s been writing books for ages, and has more recently begun publishing, first on her own through CreateSpace, and more recently through St. Martin’s Press, who picked up both her Trylle and Watersong series. However, she’s got two other series that she’s been working on, as well – The Hollows and My Blood Approves. The Hollows is ok – I preferred Hollowland to Hollowmen – and My Blood Approves also lacks in a lot of areas (here’s my review). The problem with these is that Ms. Hocking wrote several books in each, and then just…stopped. Both of these series haven’t seen a new installment in a few years – 3 and a half for My Blood Approves and about 2 and a half for The Hollows.
She’s blogged about how she’s in some hot water with her fans and foreign publishers for slacking on the finale for My Blood Approves, Swear, and unfortunately, I’m assuming since she’s got no one (except her fans) on her back about The Hollows, that one seems to have fallen by the wayside, as well, and has been seemingly replaced by the graphic novel version (although she does say this isn’t set in stone). Having that long span of time between books isn’t the issue. Don’t get me wrong, it sucks; just ask any Song of Ice and Fire fans. The problem lies in the rapid publication of the first books in the series – all 4 of the My Blood Approves books were published in 2010, and there was only 1 year separating the first two Hollows books. Had there been a long gap between their release dates, waiting so long wouldn’t be as much of an issue because it would be expected. But that was not the case, and now here we are, waiting “patiently” for who knows how long.
Wake centers around a girl named Gemma and her sister, Harper. Harper is the motherly older sister who took over for their mom after she had an accident that left her with severe brain damage. Gemma is the town beauty, at least until Penn, Lexi, and Thea show up. The three girls are stunningly beautiful and hypnotic. Everywhere they go, people fall victim to their whims because, as it turns out, they are a group of the mythical beasts called sirens, women who would lure people into doing their bidding with the hypnotic sound of their voice.
In order to survive, they need to be a group of 4 and must remain unseparated, otherwise they’ll all die. When one of their members goes missing, they set their sights on Gemma as her replacement. Against her will, they transform her into a siren, forcing her to make the choice to stay with them forever, leaving behind her friends, family, and boyfriend Alex, or to separate herself from them, dying in the process.
I could sum my opinions up very quickly and say…
…but because I’m writing book reviews here, I feel I should provide some more details as to why I felt this was such a boring story.
What I liked didn’t find boring:
1. It was different. Mermaids / sirens are not the mythical beasts you generally read about in YA series, so it was an interesting change.
2. I really liked Daniel and the fact that he seems to be bringing Harper away from being the mom of the house a bit. She’s 18 and getting ready to head off to college, but you’d think she was a 40 year old woman and Gemma was her daughter. I like the way he’s helping her become her own person.
3. I actually liked the development of all of the characters. I was super annoyed by a lot of the things they said or did, but the characters themselves were all developed really well.
4. Phrases like “dying robot llama” made me giggle a couple of times.
What I didn’t like made it so boring:
1. Even though the characters were pretty decent, the plot itself fell flat. There were *intense* scenes, and some sad things happened, but for the most part the story didn’t do much to keep me all that intrigued.
2. Certain details were pretty unoriginal. I’ve had this issue with other books by Amanda Hocking (see my review for Wisdom), so I guess this shouldn’t be too surprising. Character names, plot points, supernatural aspects, etc. were very similar or the same as other books. I’m certainly not saying she stole ideas; I think if she needed to do that, her books wouldn’t be as successful as they are. I just think she could’ve done a bit more to make her work distinct from that other authors.
3. Daniel was clearly unaffected by the sirens, but that was never even touched on, aside from Harper asking him why they had no effect, to which he basically said “I don’t know.” But does he actually know why? Is he another type of mythical creature? Are there male versions of sirens? Too many questions, not enough answers.
4. I almost had another addition to the “What I didn’t find boring” section, which was the fact that Ms. Hocking finally abandoned her incessant use of the phrases “come with” and “go with” (see my reviews of Fate and Flutter). But nope. She couldn’t help herself. It was right there on page 269, laughing at me for thinking I’d get through the entire book without coming across its use.
5. Gemma was OBSESSED with swimming. I’m assuming it was supposed to allude to or foreshadow her eventual transformation into a mermaid / siren – Penn, Lexi, and Thea all gave that as a reason for why they chose her. But OMG, we get it already. She loves swimming. A lot. Move on.
6. Several boys went missing, no one could find them, and yet, while taking a walk along a clear and short path, Alex and Gemma smelled their bodies almost immediately and then practically trip over them.
I’m not even a bit curious about how the series ends, which is a shame because it had such potential. It’s getting 2.5 stars simply because I don’t feel it was good or bad. It was just there. I’m really hoping that she eventually comes out with another series to rival Trylle or My Blood Approves (after some editing), but so far everything just doesn’t seem to be making it.