Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Because of what you are, the Believers will hunt you down.
Voices told Lucas Darby to run. Voices no one else can hear. He’s warned his sister not to look for him, but Rayne refuses to let her troubled brother vanish on the streets of LA. In her desperate search, she meets Gabriel Stewart, a runaway with mysterious powers and far too many secrets. Rayne can’t explain her crazy need to trust the strange yet compelling boy—to touch him—to protect him even though he scares her.
A fanatical church secretly hunts psychic kids—gifted “Indigo” teens feared to be the next evolution of mankind—for reasons only “the Believers” know. Now Rayne’s only hope is Gabe, who is haunted by an awakening power—a force darker than either of them imagine—that could doom them all.
The following review is based on an ARC provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
Indigo Awakening was a fast-paced read about teens with powers I found very cool, but in the end I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped because of the way it was narrated.
The story starts with Lucas, a 15-year-old teen roaming the streets in confusion. He hears voices in his head, the voices of other teens. Teens gifted like him. Lucas escaped from the mental hospital Mia, his oldest sister, had him committed to when their parents died. The hospital is owned by an organization wanting to research and control people (called Indigo or Crystal children) with gifts like his, and he’s been drugged against his will and examined for a long time. One girl’s voice in particular sticks out for him among the noise, and he follows a strange pull to where he thinks she will be.
Meanwhile, his other sister, Rayne, is told about his escape and sets out on a search for him, hoping to find him before Mia and the organization do. Rayne loves her brother fiercely and hated the way her sister simply stowed him away in an asylum. When she runs into trouble during her search she is helped by the mysterious Gabriel, a boy who has a mental connection to his dead dog and is plagued by nightmares he then sketches into a notebook. One of his sketches shows Rayne’s brother, and he’s not in a pretty shape. All of this sets in motion a mad race for who gets to Lucas most quickly, as well as a bond and strong attraction between Rayne and Gabe as they try to figure out what is really going on and why Lucas is so important to this fanatical church-like organization.
I really liked Rayne. She’s a tough girl with attitude who won’t just stand by and watch the action from afar. Did I mention she rides a Harley? I also loved how fiercely protective and dedicated she was to her brother. The attraction between her and Gabe was instant, but the author gives them time to actually get to know each other before anything more transpires. The story is action-packed with a lot going on at all times, but it didn’t feel breathless.
So far, so good. However, there was one big problem with this novel that took away quite a bit of my reading pleasure. I normally don’t mind books narrated in third person point of view or stories with varying narrators. However, the way it was done here just didn’t work for me.
There are three main story strands: Rayne & Gabe, Lucas and the other gifted ‘Indigo’ kids, and the organization searching for them. Within each strands, we again have multiple narrators, all of them individuals with their own agendas.
While this wasn’t confusing because it’s always clear who is talking, it also took away a lot of the depth of character development that might have been possible had the story been told from less POVs. Some of them didn’t really feel necessary. There is also quite a lot of telling instead of showing, especially when the reader is in one of the villains’ heads. No need to tell me what a bad guy this is or how little he cares about the lives of those kids – his actions should be able to show me that just fine. Many of the villains felt rather one-dimensional to me.
Another consequence of this type of narration was that I constantly felt like I was ‘hovering’ above the story. This was a problem with the focalization, the ‘lense’ through which the story is filtered. I felt like the omniscient narrator delved down to the various characters and I was sort of hovering over their heads and getting glimpses at their interiors, but I never really felt like I fully ‘entered’ that character. I just didn’t feel connected or immersed, and that made it more difficult for me to empathize with what was happening to them.
That being said, I felt most interested and invested in the Rayne/Gabriel story strand. Gabriel was a layered and intriguing character, and I loved how the story eventually delves more into his background and also features a really cool location connected to him. I don’t want to give too much away because of spoilers, but that period in the book when he and Rayne stay in this place was my favorite part of the book. Generally, I felt like he and Rayne showed the most character development throughout the book.
The powers of the kids were, as I’ve already hinted, another plus. Each kid has his/her own individual power, and they were all pretty cool. I also liked the life they had carved out for themselves and how they were connected in a sort of ‘hive mind’ held together by Kendra, the girl Lucas feels most drawn to.
The final showdown is again action-packed, and the overall pace of the book always kept me interested even though the narration bugged me. The final revelation didn’t come as a complete surprise to me, but the ending was well-done with the story strands tied up but enough room and questions left open for the sequel.
All in all, a great idea for a story about kids with special powers with at times something of a sci-fi or dystopian feel to it. Despite my difficulties with the way it was narrated, there were also passages that were beautifully written and details that were imaginative and made the story feel fresh. I’m curious about the sequel, but I hope some of the character POVs will be cut so that the remaining ones can get a little more development.
What do you think of my review? Does the theme of the book appeal to you? I'd also be interested in the opinions of other people who have read it and whether they had similar problems with the narration...