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This River Awakens
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This River Awakens

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  110 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
In the spring of 1971, Owen Brand and his family move to the riverside town of Middlecross in a renewed attempt to escape poverty. For twelve-year-old Owen, it's the opportunity for a new life and an end to his family's isolation.  He quickly falls in with a gang of three local boys and forms a strong bond with Jennifer, the rebellious daughter of a violent, alcoholic fath ...more
ebook, 432 pages
Published July 9th 2013 by Tor Books (first published January 1st 1998)
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Stephen Hayes
Until about halfway through this book, I wasn't sure whether I was going to like it or not. It's about a bunch of kids aged about 12 or 13 living in an in-between place somewhere between the city and farmlands. I lived in such a place when I was that age, so to that extent it felt familiar, but I wasn't aware of the existence of such a bunch of messed-up people. That doesn't mean that they weren't there in the place where I grew up, just that I wasn't aware of them. And I wouldn't have dared to ...more
This River Awakens is incredible. It’s incredibly disturbing, incredibly dark, incredibly atmospheric, and incredibly beautiful. It’s a raw, visceral coming-of-age story and absolutely unlike anything I’ve ever imagined the author could, or would, write. It’s a haunting tale that will stick to you like glue once you finish it, though you might have to work a bit for that finish. It’s worth it (squeamish readers beware). This River Awakens has its share of problems, and it’s definitely not for ev ...more
May 30, 2012 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Having already read so much from Erikson, I felt like I knew what to expect, or at least had some idea... This River Awakens was something else entirely, and frankly amazing for an authors first work. The writing can be stunning at times, and the story is visceral and real.
Jun 26, 2017 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I know many people have criticised it to be a highly negative, melancholic and dark story (mostly maybe because it's "too real" , closer to home and paints reality in blunt, non-flattering colours) but i loved it. Yes it's heavy with melancholy, but it's that constructive sadness that sprouts from deep introspection and self-consciousness....There is something there underneath--like a relentless undertow--something golden and brilliant. I don't have words for it yet, but I assure you it's there(
Jul 01, 2017 Nathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A 12-year old boy, recently moved to semi-rural Canadian town in 1971, has to find his way around his new surrounds. Over the course of a year he finds some friends, a body, some enemies, a girl, and himself (in that order), as his story weaves around those of his neighbours and acquaintances (both young and old).

This book takes the basic premise of Stand By Me and asks "where did these boys come from, and where will they go?" The result is a dark story full of flawed characters struggling to fi
Feb 11, 2017 Tracey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, 2017
There are so many different themes running through this story. Good people doing bad things. Sins of the father visited on the son who perpetuates the cycle. The use of drugs to escape from reality. Children trying to establish themselves in an adult word. Parent and child relationships explored. Veterans trying to live in a world where they no longer feel they belong.

Set in a small country town in the early 1970's this story follows 12 year old Owen Brands adjustment from city life to rural liv
Douglas Lord
This river don’t awaken too quick, lemme tell ya. Erikson, author of the Malazan Book of the Fallen fantasy series, presents a sputtering, sprawling bildungsroman centered on new-kid-in-rural-Canadian-town Owen Brand, aged 12. Many deftly-drawn characters shoulder portions of this circa 1971 narrative; all are damaged. From an unstable mink farmer to a drunken wife-beater, a dearth of role models faces Owen and the three mismatched boys he hangs around with. This lack spills over into Owen’s occ ...more
Elisa Baker
If you, like me, are picking up this book because you are in withdrawal of Erikson's Malazan writing ... probably don't? You'll only be confused and resentful by how much it's not that. But that doesn't mean it isn't worth reading! It starts off slow, and gets sort of horrible around the middle (animal abuse, child abuse, sexual abuse, substance abuse ...) but then I realized that I actually couldn't stop reading. The characters are all pretty flawed, and as a few people have mentioned I .. don' ...more
Colin Cherry
Jan 31, 2016 Colin Cherry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Apparently, this was Steven Erikson's first book. Of all his non-Malazan books, this is by far my favourite. It has the same lyricism, and the same tendency for characters to make lengthy philosophical asides, but instead of an epic fantasy, it follows two troubled grade 6 students in Canada's recent past (the lates 60's?). The lead characters are engaging, and the plot is satisfying. It starts a little slow, but by the end is very hard to put down, which is pretty much par for the course.

It's a
Bob Alberti
Jul 20, 2014 Bob Alberti rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Bob by: no one
Shelves: avoid
This was sold to me in a science fiction bookstore, so my review reflects my disappointment that this story had no science fiction or fantasy elements whatsoever. There were lengthy, indulgent italicized forays into the mental fantasies of the characters, but there was no actual fantasy component to the story. It's basically 'Stand By Me" set in Canada, and laced in the final chapters with the introduction of Professor Umbridge from 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,' sans magic.

The bo
Adventures in SciFi Publishing Podcast
A novel that was initially hard to get into, and merits as slow reading, proved to be highly rewarding ultimately. On so many levels. First one can enjoy the language for its own sake, the many lyrical passages positively pulsing with energy and vividness. Second, the empathy we can feel for the characters, even the worst of them. The most appalling of the protagonists are fleshed out in enough detail so that their behavior, while not excusable, is at least understandable. It is a gift of the au ...more
Derrel Schnurr
Nov 04, 2013 Derrel Schnurr rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The ability of this author to comprehend and recreate the human condition has always astounded me. I'm not referring to "the human condition" in an inspirational, we're-all-in-this-together kind of way. Rather, he uncomfortably captures what fucks us up, what makes us feel, what makes us choose, what we hide from, etc..

This book is human dysfunction. Not sensationalized; not glossed over. It's a book that spans a year of melancholy. Relationships forged, broken, and inexplicably maintained. In
Aug 05, 2013 Peter rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Typical of most Erikson novels, This River Awakens starts slow but finishes strong. Although labelled a coming of age story, the 12 and 13 year olds act and behave more like older teens. Drugs, sex, language, and bullying are presented as typical behaviour of these small town Canadian kids in 1971. The strength of this novel lies in the all too few conversations between the lead character Owen and his friend Roland. They speak of what it is to be growing up poor, and again typical of his novels, ...more
Paul Sysiak
Feb 17, 2012 Paul Sysiak rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually really enjoyed this having struggled at the start.

About mid-way I started to actually care what happened - each character is so flawed from the start they dont' ingratiate themselves at all.

First book I've read in a while that has real themes and accurate portrayals of human frailties and demons.

However much I enjoyed this I hope that Erikson stays with his fantasy writing as I personally enjoy that more.
Todd Campbell
Aug 03, 2014 Todd Campbell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stunning. It's hard to believe this was a debut novel by an author. Beautifully written novel which is completely different to his fantasy novels, Erikson captures the human condition wonderfully here. Highly recommended.
Tracie Sampson
Nov 02, 2016 Tracie Sampson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark , depressing, disturbing....but a book you can't put down. All the characters felt so real, like people I might find in my own town - also a place in "nowhere" between the city and the farms. Maybe that is why I liked it..
Jul 27, 2013 Margaret rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A disturbing story, hard to read to begin with as the language is harsh but the characters take hold and I had to continue to the end to see how it turned out.
Jun 14, 2012 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful coming of age story.
Mar 01, 2013 Hlt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was unsure of this book to start as it is written in an unusual way. But, by the end I had really enjoyed. The characters won me over and the story was very engaging.
Adam Gilchrest
Jan 23, 2016 Adam Gilchrest rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I never wanted it to end.
Madeleine McLaughlin
Superb. Wonderful. So inspiring.
Mar 08, 2014 Jolynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A dark read, but interesting character development.
Jul 07, 2014 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
Wow! Couldn,t put this down!
Nadine rated it did not like it
Jul 04, 2012
Michael Love
Michael Love rated it it was amazing
Nov 07, 2014
Jean Henderson
Jean Henderson rated it it was ok
May 17, 2014
Lucy rated it it was amazing
Dec 26, 2014
Suzanne Kinner
Suzanne Kinner rated it really liked it
Jun 21, 2017
David Jelinek
David Jelinek rated it really liked it
Nov 28, 2015
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Steven Erikson is the pseudonym of Steve Rune Lundin, a Canadian novelist, who was educated and trained as both an archaeologist and anthropologist. His best-known work is the series, the Malazan Book of the Fallen.
More about Steven Erikson...

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