Author: Ashok K Banker
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Ashok Banker’s ‘Awaken’ is the first book in a proposed series of three books. The story starts with the perspectives of three teenage girls who realize to their delight, and in one case chagrin, that they carry within them some exceptional qualities that may set them up on the superhuman pedestal.
Kiara, a resident of Delhi, is perplexed by the sudden growth of fur on her body and the heightening of her senses. Not far off, Saumya — in Ahmedabad — is delighted by her newfound ability to teleport anywhere just by visualizing the place. Finally Sia, who hails from Nagaland, hasn’t fully come to terms with just how powerful her singing is. Connected by a common thread of an ancient alien race, these girls find themselves tasked with the responsibility of protecting all of mankind from the Haters, a species hell bent on destroying Earth. The three alternating POVs provide wheels to the plot for a fast-track journey.
For me, Sia’s story was a lot more gripping than that of the other two girls and the least being Kiara’s. Sia even across like a true to life character with her demure yet strong persona. That she is a transgender, yet with such a lovely set of friends, was a constant source of hope for our society’s acceptance of all humans. Perhaps the upcoming generation would not consider it a stigma.
Banker’s characterizations are mostly sharp. Genre fans will find plenty of familiar character types and situations here. The inclusion of characters from Northeast India is a nice touch that adds to the book’s theme of ethnic diversity, which is however never handled in a heavy-handed manner.
However, I didn’t quite like the negative representation of the Indian society and its culture, especially the way the Gujaratis have been portrayed. I also didn’t quite like the way the story started resembling Pittacus Lore’s I Am Number Four by the end of the book. The fight for justice and peace under the direction of a council of disembodied alien brains came across too similar. The Haters could well be the Mogadorians since they have a similar agenda and then there is the case of Cêpan VS Friends. There’s even a dog who reminded me of Bernie Kosar. For those who read and loved/disliked the Lorien Legacies, Banker’s book would not hold a light. For the initiates, it would be fresh and even fascinating.
About the Author
Ashok Banker is the internationally acclaimed author of over sixty published books which have sold over three million copies in twenty-one languages and sixty-one countries. He has been credited as the pioneer of Indian crime fiction in English and with launching the genre of mythological retellings, India’s biggest-selling publishing category. As a journalist, he broke front-page news for Times of India, Outlook and The Week. As a screenwriter, he created and wrote India’s first TV series in English, A Mouthful of Sky.
Ashok is of Irish-Portuguese-Sri Lankan-Indian parentage and lived in India for over fifty-one years before migrating permanently to the United States. Awaken is the first book in the Shakti Trilogy.
I'd like to thank the publisher for letting me review the book. I do hope you end up liking the book when you read it. Thank you so much for stopping by, and happy reading!
* I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
** Picture courtesy: Amazon.in