Kate's Reviews > Awake: A Fairytale

Awake by Jessica Grey
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's review
Jun 13, 12

bookshelves: contemporary-fantasy, ebook, fantasy, faeries, owned, ya
Read in June, 2012

A very fine debut from a promising author. This novel details the story of a very self-conscious, unconfident high school girl as she spends her last summer before college interning at LA's Gem and Mineral Museum, as usual. What's not usual is the fact that her old friend Luke, whom she had a falling out with in high school, is now interning there as well. And what's more unusual still is when the "major artifact finds" brought to the museum by her supervisor, the slightly smarmy, self-involved Nicholas, turn out to involve a massive gem-encrusted bed, complete with sleeping princess.

When Luke wakes up the sleeping girl and accidentally takes her place in the enchanted bed, Alex and her friend Becca have to help the princess navigate modern life and unravel the truth behind her enchantment and her family history.

And, of course, all of this is interwoven with a tale of youthful true love and self-discovery.

While it is, at it's heart, a "special snowflake" story about how an unassuming nerdy girl finds out she's Truly Special and Powerful, it's wrapped up in an interesting take on the Sleeping Beauty myth, with a nice dose of cynicism from the teen girls who've suddenly been exposed to magic and enchantment. There's a few great one-liners about attempting to attribute the oddities they've seen to genetics or scientific explanations, and their hesitant acceptance of the situation is very realistic. Even the love story feels appropriate, given the setup for it and the sweet way it evolves.

The novel is bogged down a little by some clumsy dialogue, and there are a lot of missing commas and awkward punctuation that made me have to read a few sentences over again. But really, that doesn't detract from the story or the engaging characters.

Two major quibbles. First, there's absolutely no reason why a gem and mineral museum would be receiving a shipment of artifacts, particularly a wrought-metal bed studded with sculpted gemstones. That's something that would go to an art museum or a historical gallery, not a museum that specializes in gemology and mineralogical study. There's some deus ex machina handwaving that covers that at the very end, but it was EXTREMELY distracting for this archaeologist when the shipment was first coming in. My other quibble is that Lilia, the enchanted princess, figures out modern American life a little too quickly - there's a few perfunctory moments of "this soft book; no, you mean magazine" but by and large, she just goes from the 12th century to today without blinking. Again, there's some handwaving for this, but it's a little forced - some more time spent showing Lilia being awkward and out of place, rather than perfect, would've added a little more depth.

But in the end, this was a delightful little fairy tale romp, and I look forward to reading more by this author!
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