ARC Review: Blood Awakens (The Awakened #1) by Jessaca Willis

3.5/5

I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley.

Blood Awakens was an interesting take on the post-apocalyptic genre. When the Awakening causes various people to sprout new abilities, the world is thrown into chaos. Groups polarize and begin hunting both the Awakened and the unawakened. Every day life has become chaos and the ultimate fight to survive. The overall atmosphere reminded me a lot of The Darkest Minds.

This story revolves around four main characters: Sean, a blood guide. Mara, a charmer. Santiago, an empath. And Graciela, Santiago’s sister and unawakened. Sean is a big leadership role throughout the story and as a blood guide, his ability to use others’ blood is both feared and respected. Mara was a fierce warrior and instantly one of my favorite characters. Graciela was so kind and amazing, the lengths she went to take care of her brother were amazing. Santiago was a character I really struggled with, which I’ll explain a bit more about.

I usually struggle with the post-apocalyptic genre, because it is very depressing. There’s only so much fight for survival/hunger games vibes I can handle. And I was feeling that for the first 20-30% of this book. Every chapter was a struggle for me and I was having trouble connecting with the story and characters. I think the main reason was because the beginning is very Santiago heavy and I can’t completely like him. There were so many little comments he made that were sexist, and so narcissistic. Santiago was also a very selfish character, so I had to take many breaks from him.

However, the saving grace came in the form of Mara. Mara isn’t introduced until a bit of a ways into the book. But as soon as she started having a POV, I was in love and ready to invest every single minute into her story. Mara is a powerful, and intense fighter. Not only with her ability to take away a person’s willpower as a charmer, but physically and mentally. She’s also a very guarded character, but I loved getting to know her throughout this story. After her introduction, I found it so much easier to care about the characters, except Santiago. He’s got some growing to do.

Graciela and Santiago begin their story somewhere in Central America. They have been run out of their home and begin working their way to Texas in the hopes they can find an Awakened sanctuary. Sean is the head of one sanctuary, out in California, and Mara is his second-in-command and defense trainer. The four ultimately cross paths and try to assimilate the siblings to life in Hope. However, a group of Sanguinators, twisted blood guides, are determined to have Graciela and drain her blood for their own sustenance.

This main conflict was very slow to come to fruition, but there was so much to learn about the world, that I wasn’t worried about the plot. The world building was very interesting, but at times there was not enough and other times, there was too much I was confused. Of the awakened, every power has a name, but these titles are not always explained which was quite confusing.

Overall, I am interested to learn more about the world and while I’m not the biggest fan of Santiago, I love all of the other characters I met.

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