Jenna Moreci is another writer I stumbled across on YouTube (trust me, you can find some cool writers on there these days) who decided to make her debut in the world of self-publising, showing that Indie authors have just as much talent to offer as those who choose the traditional route (albeit this book would have benefitted greatly with more rigorous editing phases).
Before I get into the book I would like to point out her channel as being a fun way to get writings tips, her quirky humor is a definite charm factor (and it comesout in her writing as well), so I recommend you go check it out. But this isn’t a review of her channel, but rather her debut novel Eve: The Awakening (here if you happen to be Canadian like me). Keep in mind I like to end with the positives so don’t write the book off until you read the whole review (although I recommend you don’t write it off at all).
The story opens with a dream sequence of Eve as a little girl and the traumatic experience of her emergence (that is, the sudden development of physical and telekinetic abilities, know as “the gift”), which becomes a source of extreme ridicule and prejudice by just about everyone in her hometown of San Francisco. It is this prejudice that serves as her main motivation for the first part of the book, as she eagerly leaves San Fran as she gets accepted into the prestigious Billington University (which is super expensive – Billington – get it?) on a one year scholarship. Just prior to her evacuation from the city, however, she encounters one of the novel’s main antagonists – an alien member of a species referred to as Interlopers
At this point the novel takes on a sort of after-school teen romance show like The OC or something, but I was already intrigued by Eve and the existence of chimeras and aliens, so I already knew it wasn’t going to be that sort of sappy crap (ok, I admit it, I was actually a HUGE fan of the OC but that’s neither here nor there). Eventually she meets the love interest of the story, Jason Valentine and his friends, who together decide to take on the Interlopers. From this point on the novel becomes an action thriller full of intense fight scenes and lots of blood – just how I like it (after all, I’m a pretty big fan of Lord Grimdark himself, Joe Abercrombie, although Eve: The Awakening is hardly grimdark).
As much as I enjoyed the book, however, it wasn’t without it’s flaws. If you follow Jenna’s vlog on YouTube, she mentions several times in her vids how she doesn’t like to use heavy description or engage in much world building – and her Hemingway-esque approach to both of these shows. Sometimes this style works for certain types of stories, but when it comes to fantasy and sci-fi it really is a must. It doesn’t need to be on ASOIAF levels of world building, but I felt like certain things weren’t fully explained.
For example we’re never really told where this gift came from, that it just “appeared” in the human gene pool seemingly out of no where, and it’s just left at that. The Interlopers are a bit one-dimensional and are not really fleshed out at all as villains, including THE big baddie (which I don’t want to spoil), which is rather unfortunate as I felt there was potential to build more upon them. It definitely ends with an opening for a sequel so I’m guessing we’ll learn more in subsequent books, however I really think it should have been expanded on more in this book. The chapters were also a bit too long which caused some pacing issues as it often seemed like they should have ended several pages ago, which made the plot feel sluggish at times.
Most of the characters were engaging and fun to read (especially Percy and Sancho), however they were a little 2-dimensional with some hammy dialogue (but not overly so), I would have liked to see them develop a bit more by the end of the novel. Eve is the only one who appears to show any real growth by the final chapter. Again, book 2 might expand them more as actual people, but this really should have been done more in this one. Despite all this, however, the characters remained believable enough that I didn’t toss it off to the side.
Some other minor criticism include excessive use of dashes which made me aware of the author at some points, as well as words such as “quipped” and “groused” when a simple “said” would have worked just fine (better, actually). None of this is really top-heavy, though, and is easily ignored (but still shouldn’t be there).
Now, all of the book’s faults aside, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. A sign of a good book (and a good writer) is when you look forward to continuing your read, and I definitely got that from Eve: The Awakening. Even if the characters weren’t quite as developed as they could have been, I still cared about what happened to them, which gave the fight scenes added intensity. I will say that in some scenes I got really into it and started imagining what I’d do in such a situation – so the immersion for me was quite excellent. The plot twist at the end caught me off guard as well and the climax was very, well, climactic! Looking forward to the next installment for sure.
So, all in all, I would rank Eve: The Awakening a solid 3.5 out of 5 and certainly worth a read – definite recommendation. Jenna Moreci is for sure an indie author to keep an eye on, I know I will be!