The Woken Gods, by Gwenda Bond

Strange Chemistry seem to have a knack for finding good authors and books, and today’s reviewed book is no exception!

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Author’s website
Publication date – September 3, 2013

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) The more things change…

Five years ago, the gods of ancient mythology awoke all around the world.

The more things stay the same…

This morning, Kyra Locke is late for school because of an argument with her father.

Seventeen-year-old Kyra lives in a transformed Washington, D.C., dominated by the embassies of divine pantheons and watched over by the mysterious Society of the Sun that governs mankind’s relations with the gods. But when rebellious Kyra encounters two trickster gods on her way home, 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, a young Society field operative, only to discover that her scholar father has disappeared with a dangerous Egyptian relic. The Society needs the item back, and they aren’t interested in her protests that she knows nothing about it or her father’s secrets.

Now Kyra must depend on her wits and the suspect help of scary Sumerian 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.

Thoughts: Bond showed us her imaginative talent first in Blackwood, and has now given us yet more to love with The Woken Gods.

The story is told primarily from Kyra’s point of view, using the first-person viewpoint, with brief breaks into third-person limited to show the perspectives of other characters integral to the plot. Far from being a series of jarring transitions, they actually serve very well to add additional — and often vital — information to the plot, and come across more like the camera panning back for a moment instead of unnecessary word-padding. And when we’re seeing things from Kyra’s point of view, the narrative is very much as someone would think, complete with slang, Buffyspeak descriptions, and the skewed perspective of a teenager in a very bizarre and tense situation. Bond seems to have quite the talent for writing interesting and believable teenagers. Kyra’s sarcastic commentary and observations do wonders to put the reader into the proper mindset of a suitably rebellious teen.

And I do mean ‘suitably.’ Kyra has her rebellious streak, but she’s not the kind of self-righteous brat often seen in portrayals of rebellion. She knows exactly why she acts out. Her mother is absent, her father is gone more often than not and doesn’t seem to have much interest in Kyra, and what she wants more than anything is to get him to admit that she matters. Negative attention being better than no attention. But it’s not a “pity-me” fest, either, as we see that habits have formed and even she admit she needles him pointlessly sometimes. Tremendously realistic, and Kyra’s self-realization is not outside the realm of possibility, either.

In Kyra’s world, the gods have awoken. All of them. From all times, places, and pantheons. And are interacting with humanity once more. The ones most sympathetic to humanity are the tricksters, the ones who have historically been untrustworthy and unpredictable in order to teach lessons to gods and mortals alike. Between the gods’ own plans, the Society, and Kyra’s own family, she has her hands full. Her father has been branded a traitor, her mother is an insane prophet, and multiple gods seem to have their eyes on her for reasons of their own.

The story is fast-paced, interesting to the end, and full of twists that kept me turning pages. Bond played with some very interesting concepts here, and did so tastefully, with thought-provoking detail. I won’t deny that there were some slightly awkward infodumping now and again, but those moments were few and far between, and did at least serve a purpose when things wouldn’t necessarily have been clear to the reader. (We’re not all very familiar with Sumerian myths, after all.)

And since it must be mentioned, the romance was very well done here. It added to the story rather than distracting from it, providing interest and enhancing character dynamics rather than just drowning the reader in obsessive mush. Characters had feelings for each other, but didn’t spend chapter and chapters dwelling on them, and were more than capable of putting them aside when the moment called for it. This is how I prefer my romance in fiction, and the author may as well have tailor-made this thing for me in many ways.

Between the diverse cast of interesting characters, the creative plot, and the engaging writing style, The Woken Gods has a guaranteed place on my shelves for a long time to come. YA fans who enjoy a departure from standard material, female protagonists who can stand on their own two feet, and a wild creative ride will do well to check this one out.

(Received from the publisher for review via NetGalley.)

2 comments on “The Woken Gods, by Gwenda Bond

  1. Pingback: September in Retrospect | Bibliotropic

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