I received this ebook from NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: Scarlett doesn’t remember anything before the age of five. Her parents say it’s from the trauma of seeing her house burn down, and she accepts the life they’ve created for her without question–until a car accident causes her to start remembering pieces of an unfamiliar past. When a new guy moves into town, Scarlett feels an instant spark. But Noah knows the truth of Scarlett’ s past, and he’s determined to shield her from it…because Scarlett grew up in a cult called Eternal Light, controlled by her biological parents. And now they want her back.
I requested this from NetGalley because I thought the premise looked interesting with it’s cult angle, but now that I’ve read it, to say I’m bitterly disappointed is an understatement. The only thing that’s making me feel better is after reading reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, I’m not the only one who feels this way.
The first problem is Scarlett who’s just a kind of “blah” uninteresting character who whines a lot. Actually, now that I think about it she reminds me of Bella from the Twilight series who I dislike intensely. The author makes a huge deal of her not remembering anything before the age of four, but honestly, I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember much from those early years. I just felt like it was a really odd problem to give to a main character. This would have made more sense if her memory loss occured at an older age. When Scarlett instantly falls in love with Noah for no apparent reason, well that’s when the book really started to lose me. Too bad this happens within the first few chapters.
“Yeah, me and Noah were pretty much joined at the hip lately, but I was pretty sure he was my future, so I wanted to spend as much time with him as possible.”
Noah gives off a creepy stalker vibe even before you find out he’s been sent by the cult to get Scarlett to fall in love with him and eventually bring her back so they can sacrifice her. Wait, what? Not that I’m encouraging this, but wouldn’t it have been easier to just kidnap her? The fact their beliefs make absolutely no sense whatsoever doesn’t help. I get that cults are filled with, well let’s just say not the most stable of people, but this one brings crazy to a whole new level.
The secondary characters are equally horrible. Scarlett’s parents who are really former cult members who came to their senses and fled with Scarlett all those years ago, are just clueless. Despite plenty of warning signs, they welcome creepy Noah into their house and basically give him their blessing to do whatever he wants with their “daughter”. Up until now, they’ve been extremely protective of Scarlett so this is another thing that made little sense to me. Her birth parents are true psychopaths who have convinced themselves and their formerly peaceful followers that Scarlett is the chosen one and it’s only through her sacrifice that they’ll all attain salvation. And in their minds Scarlett will enthusiastically embrace her destiny once she’s back in their loving arms and they explain her destiny to her. While the theme of selfless sacrifice has been successfully explored in books, tv shows, and movies, it’s just not believable here.
What truly ticked me off to no end though was the ending. Despite what Noah did; manipulating her, bringing her back to the cult, putting her life in danger, Scarlett forgives him and they live happily ever after. Yep, that’s right. It’s all cuddles and kisses since he’s redeemed in her eyes after he comes to his senses at the last minute and winds up saving her. Please! Okay, I’ll give him points for being willing to give up his life for her but given what he’s done, that’s the least he could do. I really think this is one of the worst messages you could send impressionable teen readers. It’s basically telling them that no matter what horrible thing a person has done to you all can be forgiven if “true love” is involved. Um, no. This reminds me of when I was a teen and was glued to the soap opera General Hospital. Back in the early 1980s, one of the most romantic couples on daytime tv were Luke and Laura.
Their relationship had many ups and downs before they finally married in 1981; an event which was watched by 30 million people, many of whom were teenagers like me. The problem is that one of those down times in their relationship concerned a drunken Luke raping Laura. Despite this, they are still considered a “supercouple” even today. In Awake, while Noah technically doesn’t rape Scarlett, he plays with her feelings and ultimately seduces her while he’s still keeping his true agenda a secret. We’re supposed to feel sympathy for him because he’s fallen in love with his victim and is torn between his feelings for her and his loyalty to his “family”, but this just doesn’t work. I’m sorry, but there are just some things that are unforgivable.
Once upon a time when I was a librarian, I belonged to a book group made up of my colleagues in the profession. One of our challenges was to come up with at least one positive thing to say even if we heartily disliked a book. So with that in mind, I’ve racked my brain for something nice to say. After considerable thought the only thing I can come up with is that even at 352 pages, this is a fast read. Of course this may be because subconsciously I was reading as fast as I could so it would be over, but still…
If this wasn’t on my Kindle I’d probably be doing this:
Thankfully though I can just hit delete, thus saving me from an angry husband and the cost of replacing a broken window.
I’m now going to attempt to scrub my brain and pretend I didn’t waste two hours reading this offensive trash. I think I may have to visit my happy place in order to do this. I’ll be spending the rest of the day focusing on some of my favorite things.