The Woken Gods
Author: Gwenda Bond
Publisher: Strange Chemistry/Angry Robot
Release Date: September 2013
Formats: Paperback and Ebook
Five years ago, the gods of ancient mythology awoke around the world.
This morning, Kyra Locke is late for school.
Seventeen-year-old Kyra lives in a transformed Washington, D.C., home to the embassies of divine pantheons and the mysterious Society of the Sun. But when rebellious Kyra encounters two trickster gods on her way back from school, one offering a threat and the other a warning, it turns out her life isn’t what it seems. She escapes with the aid of Osborne “Oz” Spencer, an intriguing Society field operative, only to discover that her scholar father has disappeared with a dangerous relic. The Society needs it, and they don’t care that she knows nothing about her father’s secrets.
Now Kyra must depend on her wits and the suspect help of scary gods, her estranged oracle mother, and, of course, Oz–whose first allegiance is to the Society. She has no choice if she’s going to recover the missing relic and save her father. And if she doesn’t? Well, that may just mean the end of the world as she knows it.
From the author of Blackwood comes a fresh, thrilling urban fantasy that will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman, Cassandra Clare, and Rick Riordan.
Okay, first of all, I have to apologize about how late this review is. Seriously, this was supposed to have been written and posted several months ago. But then I hit the uncomfortable stage of my pregnancy, my older kids started school, the baby was born, blah blah blah, and ultimately I’m only just now getting back into the book reviews and whatnot.
So. About the book. I have to say, I really enjoyed it. Both times I read it. (Yes, I read it twice, because there was such a long gap between when I read it the first time and when I was able to write the review. I thought it would be best to re-read and then write the review.) I don’t re-read many books, mostly because I have the attention span of a goldfish, but I enjoyed The Woken Gods just as much, if not more, the second time around.
The book is centered on the gods of mythology. Except it turns out they aren’t myths; in fact, they’re real, and they’re not very nice. Throw in a megalomaniac (human) willing to do anything to achieve his goal (including risk ending the world), a feisty teen with interesting family issues, and equally interesting supporting characters, and you’ve got yourself a good book.
One of my favorite things about this book was the portrayal of the gods. They’re exactly like I thought deities would be: not particularly friendly, not particularly invested in the human race, and incredibly powerful. They’re not “humanoid” in the sense that not all of them look like people. We have Set, from the Egyptian pantheon, described as jackal-headed (which is his actual description in Egyptian mythology). From the Sumerian pantheon we have Enki, who has blue-scaled skin. Anzu is half eagle, half lion. They haven’t been peopled up, and they haven’t been niced down (yes, I totally just made up those terms). Also, they’re pissed the hell off, after humans killed a goddess (bad idea, that).
Basically, I loved — LOVED — the author’s portrayal of the gods.
The human characters are fun, too. Kyra, our protagonist, is a well-developed character. She’s independent (and yet still vulnerable), loyal, and willing to defend those she cares about. She can also be sarcastic. Really, she’s just a lot of fun. Oz, our hero, is a bit more of an enigma, and is an alpha male without being an alphahole. Which made me like him more. The supporting characters — Bree, Tam, Bree’s mother, Tam’s father, and Kyra’s parents — are all quite well-developed for being the supporting cast (trust me, this doesn’t happen all the time).
The antagonist, William Bronson, is a great bad guy. He’s not a cartoon or a stereotype; in fact, he’s flawed and human. His motives are selfish, yes, but the reader gets to understand why he’s doing what he’s doing. I actually felt for him a little, even while I was waiting for Kyra to kick his evil selfish ass.
What I was less enthused about was the occasional chapter in third person POV. I understand why they’re there — the book is written in first person so to get any other perspective we’d need a chapter in third person. However, I thought the book would’ve been just fine without those chapters. To be honest, they threw me out of the story.
I was also not happy about the fact that this wasn’t the first in a series. I would love to spend more time in this universe, with these characters (and the ending did leave it open to a sequel!), but alas, there doesn’t seem to be plans for a sequel. I haz a sad :(.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. This would be one I’d be happy to give my daughters when they’re a bit older.