Pub 8-2012, St. Martin’s Griffin
At a glance, Amanda Hocking’s Wake seems like your typical YA fiction—girl meets boy and then some paranormal activity ensues. But once you actually immerse yourself in the novel, it becomes clear that Wake will quickly become another one of her bestsellers. Overflowing with a unique plot and refreshing characters, it never allows the reader a dull moment.
Wake tells the tale of sixteen year-old Gemma, whose passion for the water is greater than any girl her age is expected to have. One would believe sixteen year old girls mostly concern themselves with nail polish, boy bands, and prom. But for Gemma, it isn’t enough to be the unofficial star of the swim team; she also craves midnight swims at Anthemusa Bay. Not even falling in the love with the geeky boy next door, Alex, will keep Gemma from her midnight swims. Her college bound sister, Harper, is against Gemma’s midnight swims, because ever since their mother’s accident, she has dedicated her life to taking care of their father and protecting Gemma. This means not allowing herself to fall for Daniel, a carefree boy with no immediate plans for the future. But Gemma’s entire life is changed when she runs into Penn, Lexi, and Thea at the bay one night. They are tourists whose stunning beauty and almost threatening attitudes have captured the attention of the entire town. And when Gemma washes up on shore, she realizes how truly dangerous they might be. Besides Gemma’s transformation, are they also responsible for the recent string of murders in a usually peaceful town?
Having read dozens of YA novels featuring paranormal entities, Wake still managed to be a distinguishable novel for me. Most contemporary mainstream novels are full of vampires, or shapeshifters, and ordinary humans who fall in love with them. Some of the best novels I’ve read have those plotlines, but it was nice to read something totally different. For half of the novel, readers are given clues as to what exactly Penn, Lexi, and Thea are. The prologue begins with the words, “Even over the sea, Thea could smell the blood on her.” If there is a reader who isn’t immediately intrigued by that, I’d like to meet them. And Hocking’s mysterious clues keep the reader guessing, getting more descriptive as the novel continues. For example, during a group encounter with the three girls, “Penn’s eyes changed, shifting from near black to an odd golden color, reminding Harper of a bird.” The clues are an innovative way to keep readers hooked on the book.
Gemma’s sister, Harper, is by far my favorite character, I believe because I can relate to her so much. Growing up with one parent, my sister has always had to make sacrifices and work harder than any kid should to help take care of us. Now that she is in college, I’ve taken on the role, and it is hard work. Although she sometimes comes off as overbearing and bossy, all Harper wants is to protect her family. She is scheduled to go off to college in the fall, and with Gemma acting up she feels more and more uneasy about it. Harper is a strong and independent woman, which is nice to see in a novel. Readers are definitely able to sympathize with her problems, both familial and romantic. All of Hocking’s characters are well-developed and intriguing, but Harper seems the most relatable, which is one of the most significant aspects of the novel that kept me hooked.
Even the greatest of novels have little flaws, and Wake is no exception. The ending isn’t satisfying, but it’s only because Wake is the first novel of Hocking’s new Watersong series. It builds and builds in intensity and it leaves the reader wanting more, then ends at a very dramatic moment, with promises of an even more action-filled sequel. Anticipation for the next novel will weigh on the spirits of readers waiting to get their hands on it.
- Blanca M., 17