The Awesome: Review

July 2, 2015 2015, 4 star books, Kim, paranormal 17 ★★★★

The Awesome: ReviewThe Awesome Published by Ravenstone on May 26, 2015
Genres: paranormal, urban fantasy
Pages: 246
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed
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four-stars
Seventeen-year-old Maggie Cunningham is tough, smart, and sassy. She's also not like other girls her age, but then, who would be when the family business is monster hunting? Combat boots, ratty hooded sweatshirts, and hair worn short so nothing with claws can get a grip, Maggie's concerns in life slant more toward survival than fashion or boys.

Which presents a problem when Maggie's mother informs her that she can't get her journeyman's license for hunting until she loses her virginity. Something about virgin blood turning vampires into pointy rage monsters. Insides being on the outside and all that.

Maggie's battled zombies and goblins and her fair share of house brownies, but finding herself a boy proves a much more daunting task than any monster hunt. Did you know normal girls don't stuff their bras with holy water balloons? Nor do they carry wooden stakes in their waistbands. And they care about things like "matching" and "footwear." Of course, they also can't clean a gun blindfolded, shoot a crossbow, or exorcise ghosts from a house. Which means they're lame and Maggie's not. Because Maggie's awesome. The Awesome, in fact.

Just ask her. She'd be more than happy to tell you.

After she finds herself a date.

Imagine being a 17 year old hunter-in-training, going about your business vanquishing poltergeists, mucking up vampire politics, and getting into other general supernatural hijinks.  You know, the usual. Now imagine the one obstacle in your way to becoming a fully fledged hunter: losing your virginity (it turns out vampires go crazy in the presence of virgin blood). This is the dilemma for our heroine, the magnificently irreverent, snarky, and confident Maggie. It’s hard enough to navigate the realms of normal adolescence. Add in several layers of paranormal complications, and many years of homeschooling, and our Maggie finds herself at a disadvantage in swiftly accomplishing this goal.

The conversation in which Maggie’s hunter mom, Janice, informs her of this unique challenge sets the stage for one of the highlights of the story: the beautifully complicated yet loving mother/daughter relationship. The two are close, but have plenty moments of conflict and misunderstanding. It’s a heart tugging relationship and its authenticity leaps off the page.

I have to hand it to Maggie, though: this is a girl on a mission. She knows what she wants and does her very best to go about ridding herself of this pesky virginity thing asap. Attending what appears to be a painfully typical high school party, the sexual encounter that ensues can only be described as the most hilariously bad, true to life, and yet somehow still endearing, portrayals of sex (or lack thereof) I’ve read in any YA novel. Maggie’s conversation with her mom in the aftermath of this disaster affirms the sex positive message of the book. Sex (or lack thereof) is frankly and realistically discussed and there is no shaming. I’m also happy to say that the book goes out of its way make clear that in no way is it following heteronormative prescriptives of virginity.

Before long, Maggie puts her foot in vampire politics and screws up royally. It turns out slaying a vampire master’s cherished offspring is frowned upon. Even if she did go blood-crazy and attacked you repeatedly in public. Yes, turns out those guys will come after you and it is…not the greatest. What follows is a pretty typical, yet thoroughly enjoyable, tale of navigating the messy ins and outs of supernatural politics and how to survive being the hunter-in-training target of an enraged master vampire. It’s good fun, but what sets this book apart is its compellingly funny voice and the authenticity of its strong relationships from family, to friends, to romance.

Along the way, Maggie and Janice encounter a young zombie named Lauren who turns out, rather mysteriously, to be basically a normal human. Except for, you know, the eating brains bit. The friendship that develops between Maggie and Lauren is touching, as is the one with her long time bff Julie.  All three girls are very different and it’s wonderful to see how they get along despite the seemingly conflicting differences in personality. All are fully fleshed (I’m so sorry–that’s not a zombie pun, I promise) characters with nuances that show the natural ebb and flow of friendship.

Is there a ship? Yes, of course there is a ship. Adorable and shy Ian is the perfect foil to Maggie’s somewhat brash and outspoken personality. I love that is a brazenly feminist novel that also shows that this doesn’t mean there’s no place for romance. Maggie and Ian’s burgeoning relationship perfectly captures that sort of messy “What even are we?” stage particular in adolescence. And it’s both incredibly sweet and adorably steamy. Even given the disaster of the opening chapters of the book (yes, this is the same boy!). He gets a chance to redeem himself. I hope I get to see more of them and follow the relationship as it deepens if we get a sequel!

I was occasionally grated by Maggie’s voice, much as I loved her. She refers to sex as The Sex nearly every time. I wanted grab her shoulders and say, “Maggie, stop it!” Still, she’s a realistically portrayed character and her loud personality is clearly an occasional cover up for her insecurities. I can’t really begrudge her for being a realistically flawed character. Plus, that’s just all the more room to see her character development in future novels (please let there be more!)

The Awesome treads on familiar urban fantasy territory but brings a fresh, hilarious, and yes, awesome voice to the genre. It’s feminist, it’s fun, and I demand a sequel now please and thank you.

 

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17 Responses to “The Awesome: Review”

  1. Jo

    I am so excited to read this book! I think it’s next on my TBR, and it sounds so good! I’m really into my feminist YA stories lately, and I love urban fantasy, so this ticks all the boxes for me so far. And there seems to be quite a bit going on, which is great! I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for the review! :)
    Jo recently posted…Review: 5 to 1 by Holly Bodger

    • Kim

      Oh I’m so excited to hear that! You must come back and tell me what you end of thinking of it! This is some of the more overtly feminist YA I’ve encountered so I think odds are high you’ll enjoy this one quite a bit. Fingers crossed!
      Kim recently posted…ALA 2015: event recap + giveaway!

  2. Carina Olsen

    lol :D I adore this review Kim. <3 You are amazing. And now you have made me want to read this book, hmph :) Not fully my thing, but gosh damn it, it sounds so cute. With the mom relationship. And friendships. And romance. And ugh. I'm curious about this one :D But unsure if I would like the writing, sigh. But yeah. You make this book seem so amazing :D So glad you mostly loved it. <3 Thank you for sharing about it sweetie :)
    Carina Olsen recently posted…In My Mailbox #192

    • Kim

      Well, if you’d like to spend several hours cackling out loud and grinning from ear to ear over how fun and cute and funny a book is then you should definitely read this one! Cackling is a very hearty endorsement, btw. Maggie’s voice does take a little getting used to but it’s so worth it. It’s wonderful to see a girl as normal, every day, and also so confident as Maggie is in YA. In many ways, she’s a role model! Reeeeeeeeeead it!
      Kim recently posted…ALA 2015: event recap + giveaway!

    • Kim

      It is SO funny, Erin. Very few books make me actually laugh out loud. This one was entertaining enough to get me through an entire day of jury duty hell. And don’t worry about Maggie’s awkwardness. The book is plenty good in other ways to make up for it. Plus, this only goes to serve as a good benchmark for watching her maturity in (hopefully) future novels!
      Kim recently posted…ALA 2015: event recap + giveaway!

    • Kim

      This is the correct and appropriate response! :D If the premise of this book sounds interesting to you I just can’t imagine that you’d find it disappointing. It’s just too good.
      Kim recently posted…The Awesome: Review

    • Kim

      Absolutely an apt way to describe the book. “The Awesome” in the title is the way Maggie refers to herself, and which she (mostly) is. Pleeeeease give it a shot! It, and you, deserve it!
      Kim recently posted…The Awesome: Review

    • Kim

      I already told you on Twitter but…I REGRET NOTHING :D I will forever be glad to be the ruiner of your TBR. Honestly, it’s for your own good! You’ll read this hilarious paranormal romp and then you’ll thank me. It’s all for the best.
      Kim recently posted…The Awesome: Review

  3. Nikki

    I would read this solely for the fact that the cover and title are awesome. It helps that the synopsis sounds pretty “awesome” as well!

    • Kim

      I know! That really is quite the eye catching cover, isn’t it? It speaks for the book plenty on its own. It’s one of the freshest and fun YA paranormals I’ve read in quite some time and I can’t recommend it enough!
      Kim recently posted…The Awesome: Review

    • Kim

      You added it!! I saw on Twitter!! :D *does the happy dance of the gleeful recc-er* I feel no guilt whatsoever about further burdening your TBR. :p
      Kim recently posted…The Awesome: Review