Review: The Awakening

AwakeningThe Awakening

Dung Beetle

One dung Beetle
(1 out of 4 rating)

Abducted humans wake up aboard an alien spaceship. The aliens have been collecting apex predators from various planets, but for some reason the predators are waking up and running loose on the ship. Plus, an automated defense system is trying to kill all life on the ship. Plus, the ship is about to crash into a planet. Plus, space pirates are boarding the ship. How could this story possibly be dull? Well, pull up a chair, and I’ll tell you exactly how.

From most annoying to least annoying:

An omniscient character shows up to help the abducted humans. They never have to figure out anything for themselves, or wonder if they’re taking the right course of action. Super-dude answers all their questions immediately, and knows exactly how to get out of all their predicaments. Super-dude is a time traveler, and some positive Amazon reviews have said this story is like Doctor Who. I haven’t watched Dr. Who recently; is it as boring as this? Also, if super-dude is a time traveler, why doesn’t he rescue the humans last week when there aren’t so many problems aboard the spaceship?

One of the humans is a computer geek, and he spends a large amount of the group’s time talking to super-dude about how the ship’s computer system dongle-beaner interfaces with the cloud computing whatzit. Apparently, that is more important than what kind of predators and killer robots are on board, whether there are any personal weapons available, or where the ship’s exits are. Never mind why a 21st-century computer geek can converse intelligently about an alien computer system which is possibly from the future and/or another dimension. If you brought some guy from the middle ages to the present day and showed him your minivan, he’d probably ask you whether it used bronze or iron horseshoes. Fortunately, the geek died before I had to figure out how to transform into a fictional character, insert myself into the story, and beat him to death.

The author takes a unique approach to show versus tell: he does both. He describes a pirate — how he’s muscular, covered with tattoos, and carrying a big gun, and then writes “this guy looks dangerous.” In another instance, a character sacrifices himself for the group, and then one of the characters has to remark that it was a self-sacrifice. At least we now know who the ship belongs to: Captain Obvious.

When the characters are first introduced, their clothing is described in ridiculous detail. I’ve read clothing catalogs with less description of clothing.

At least one of the characters keeps ‘half-smiling’. I tried to do this in the mirror. The best I could do was to smile with one side of my face but not the other. I looked like I was having a stroke.

Sadly, this story has spawned both a sequel, The Fredorian Destiny, and a prequel, The Arrival.


  1. You have no idea how much I enjoy your sarcastic reviews and the honed skills with which you uncover a bad book’s faults through delightful sarcasm. This review deserves a standing ovation! 🙂
    My favorite part? Thinking about the way to become a character and enter the story to beat the computer geek.

    That said, this novel could be used as an example of what NOT to do when writing a story: it seems as if the author truly went wild as he wrote, and no one was there to stop him, so… everyone could learn from these mistakes. Hopefully…

    Thanks for sharing! 😀

    1. Yes, that’s why I wrote this review, hoping an aspiring author might see it, and work to avoid those issues. The first one is the real story-killer; the others are extremely annoying, but wouldn’t have ruined the story by themselves.

  2. Tajima Jenkins · · Reply

    Your comments about half-smiling (which I assume is just smirking) made me think of this:

  3. The showing AND telling was a mistake I made as a novice writer. Learning to trust the reader is something that comes with experience (and with someone pointing it out). Despite the sting, this is really good feedback.

    1. Yes, although my review was harsh, I’m hoping new authors will take some of those points to heart. The showing then telling didn’t ruin this book, but anything that distracts the reader from the story can’t be good.

  4. “I haven’t watched Dr. Who recently; is it as boring as this?”

    Not sure about boring, but certainly unwatchable. I tried the most recent season and had to give up after the second episode, in which a female soldier helps the Doctor out–even going against orders to ‘do the right thing’–and then is turned down when she wants to accompany the Doctor on his time-and-space traveling rounds. Why? Well, she’s a soldier, and snooty pacifists like the Doctor just can’t accept that type of person.

    To put it mildly, that doesn’t work for me.

    1. The show’s writers must have decided they had too many viewers, and decided to offend everyone with a military background, or anyone who had relatives with military backgrounds, or….

  5. This does make me realize I see fewer Doctor-Who-with-the-serial-numbers-filed-off than I would expect, considering how well-known and flexible the original is. I wonder what’s keeping that down.

    1. I think I’ve seen one short story that draws pretty heavily from Dr. Who, but can’t remember any other novels. Of course, for novel-length stuff, I’m usually looking at things that make it to audiobook format, reserving my text reading for short story collections and magazines.

      Lately, I’ve noticed quite a few books which were inspired by Firefly and by Battlestar Galactica. If reviews can be believed, some of the Battlestar Galactica ones are direct clones.

  6. inkbiotic · · Reply

    Wow, loved this! Funny and insightful. I relate to what you’re saying about helping writers to not make these mistakes, it’s easy to slip into bad habits and not notice. If you ever run out of books to review, you can read mine… 😉

    1. Let me know if your book is available in audio format. I’m currently devoting my text reading to short stories for my magazine quest, and if that ever ends, I already have several books in the queue.

      1. inkbiotic · · Reply

        Why thank you, I will. I’m not surprised you’re all stocked up, so many stories and books in the world! Great reviews though.

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