Awakened [Book Review]

I received this book from a Goodreads Giveaway set up by Harper Voyager. The opinions of this review are of my own and are my fair and honest opinion.

Book Name: Awakened (A Novel)
Series: Awakened Book: #1 (has a sequel)
Author: James S. Murray with Darren Wearmouth
Book Type: Physical > Hardcover
Pages: 283
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fiction, Thriller, Horror

I actually read this book sometime last year (around June) where I wrote a smaller and much more condensed review on Goodreads for this book. But I felt like I just didn’t do the book enough justice, so here we are! A revamp of my review so I can relive this awesome book.

My Rating

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Phenomenal, fast paced and kept me at the edge of my seat the whole time. Cliffhanger after cliffhanger with rotating characters and settings.

Book Summary

Grady McGowan is working overtime. In the middle of winter, he is sitting in the 90 degrees cabin of a tunnel-boring machine. The eleven hours of his shift has drained him, but it’s all worth it. It’s not just the money that drives him. Grady looks forward to a future where he could tell his grandchildren that he helped build the most advanced subway system in the world, the line for the upcoming Z Train of New York City! Everything is going well and besides, there’s only one more hour left of his shift before he can finally clock out and head back to his wife and daughter. That is until his cabin lurches, a giant hole opens up underneath him, nothing but a huge void of empty darkness.

The setting skips a few years later, remaining in the same tunnel of NYC, as Mayor Tom Cafferty stands at the grand opening ceremony and inaugural run of the completed Z Train. Press cameras, sixty handpicked guests, made up of New York’s elites, and even US President Reynolds, surround him, all eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new Z train. They have all been waiting for this moment for a long long time. Besides the guests in the Pavilion, there are other guests, the lucky ones chosen to be the train’s first passengers. Amongst them, is Cafferty’s wife, Ellen.

The train was due to arrive at 12:04. It is late. When it finally does arrives, 4 minutes overdue, everyone knows there’s something wrong as the train comes to a halt at the station. When Cafferty takes it upon himself to approach the late train, he looks inside only to see all of the car’s interior covered in blood and devoid of passengers. Panicked chaos erupts around Cafferty as the guests attempt to rush away and the President’s security immediately gather around him, dragging him into the safety of a blast shelter where the train’s operations management team are. Methane levels are rising in the Jersey City tunnel with an unknown source or cause and dangerously nearing the LEL or lower explosive levels. The Manhattan tunnel is the closest exit…but with the attack being a possible terrorist attack of an unknown enemy, Reynolds refuses to evacuate the people through it. They are trapped and they don’t even know what the enemy looks like!

Thoughts and Review

This book starts off exciting right away. Merely a few chapters in, you are already hit with your first scene of blood and gore, followed by another one, and then followed by several more throughout the book. Not a book for the faint of heart. Though they talk about a potential terrorist attack, it only takes a few seconds with the summary on the book to know that whatever we are looking at here is definitely not a terrorist, not even human.

This book has a good fair share of disgusting gore. Off the bat, one of the agents protecting President Reynolds tries to dive towards the doors of the blast shelter that is protecting Reynolds only for him to get caught, mercy killed by Samuel, Reynold’s head of Secret Services, and lifeless corpse bisected in front of everyone’s eyes, his upper body falling to the ground with a wet thud.

When the NYC police goes to investigate the tunnels, we quickly learn that whatever attacked the first passengers are not terrorists. These are intelligent creatures of an unknown origin, though their full and actual appearances comes a bit further into the book.

They were near human in size, but were definitely not human. Each had an extra set of arms, scaly skin, sharp claws, and thrashing tails. As she moved her focus to the outer circle, past twisted pieces of wreckage, their shapes gradually grew larger to nearly double the size of your average man.

– James S. Murray with Darren Wearmouth, Awakened, Page 114

This book is very fast paced (you’d be too if you were trying to survive with creatures that treated guns like little tickles from a toothpick). This book is a sci-fi book with elements of horror embedded into it. The blurb lets us know that “There’s something living beneath New York City, and it’s not happy we’ve woken it up.”

With at different point of views from at least three different groups, we are constantly spinning between one party or another, each playing their own vital roles, all trying to rescue the others and/or survive. Almost every chapter finishes off with a cliffhanger and with a rotating cast between chapters, you’d have to endure the other parties’ point of views each time until you can reunite with the characters to see how they fair when you last left off with them.

Personal Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and there wasn’t much I actually disliked. I love when books keep my heart pounding, clinging to the edge of my seat, mouth wide open. In some of the mystery books I read, I really only get a “Holy Shit!” moment, late into the book, when they finally catch the perpetrators and some fire fight or car chase happens. It’s a brief moment of adrenaline, but here, you get the rush from start to finish! And then it doesn’t stop even there! There’s a sequel to this book! (I didn’t even realize until I finished and sat there going, “Wait….wait it’s unfinished…What’s going on??”)

I am NOT a sci-fi fan. If you’ve read my Review Policy, I mentioned that I used to have a thing with Sci-Fi books until one book changed my mind (Well here you go. It was this book). Sci-fi was in my small pile of “genres I don’t touch ever.” Futuristic themes, time travel, space, and spaceships were just not my thing and when it came down to “sci-fi” that was all I could think of.

After this book, I gained a new view towards this genre. Though I still don’t actively reach out and search for books in this genre, I don’t mind taking a look to see if they might be a good read, whenever I come across them. So if there is anything I want to say about this book, it’s that it was the turning point book for me to look at a genre that I previously didn’t care for. (Funny enough, I entered the giveaway and didn’t even look at the genre. I just thought the summary sounded pretty neat).

Would I Recommend?

Heck yes! Here is a few quick key points: Horror, human vs the unknown, humans rendered to nothing but rag dolls, guns are useless, these creatures are creepy, these creatures are very intelligent and adapt insanely fast to new situations, swearing, plenty of gore to go around, and fast paced. People are trying to survive and others are depending on other people to survive.

Definitely a fantastic read if the above points sounded great to you. And as someone who doesn’t really reread books, this is such a fun book that I’d love to reread.

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