Zoey Valentine is concerned with two things: surviving the multitude of self-defense classes her dad makes her take and avoiding Ash Matthews.
That is, until the Z virus hits, wiping out a third of the population in a matter of weeks. If that weren’t frightening enough, the bodies of the victims disappear and suddenly reappear, awakened from their dead state. They’re faster, smarter, and they work together to get the one thing they crave, human flesh.
The United States is in a panic and then the government decides the unthinkable: to bomb every major city overrun with the awakened.
Now Zoey is on the run, with her dad and Ash, desperate to find a place of safety amongst the ruined remains of the country.
The Awakened isn’t generally a book I would pick up after reading the synopsis, but there was something that told me I needed to read this book, and I am so glad that I did. I was hooked basically from the beginning, and that’s something I find important in a book. I either need to be pulled into it in the first dozen or so pages, or I’m out. There are too many books to read to waste time on something you don’t like. Like isn’t a strong enough word for how I felt about The Awakened, or Ash, but we’ll get to him later.
I think something that helped me to enjoy this particular story was the genuinely relatable female lead character, Zoey. She was really nothing special, just a human girl who loved baseball games and reading. Her dad was a bit of a hard ass, which was important to the development of Zoey’s character, so it worked for me.
Zoey’s best friend Madison was a character I really didn’t care about, which is fine because she was only a secondary character. On the other hand, Zoey’s dog Bandit wasn’t exactly a main character and I still loved him. And I’m a cat person.
Ash freaking Matthews. Listen, I could make an entire post about Ash alone. I won’t because that might be weird, but I totally could. He was so damn annoying, but boy did it work for him. He knew exactly what to say to set Zoey off, and I found myself giggling and blushing at some of the stuff he came up with.
The Awakened offered a great introduction to the main characters and allowed the reader to experience the normalcy that the characters were used to before shit hit the fan. Big time.
People started getting sick and that was when the story really started. All of a sudden we’ve got Zoey, her dad, and Ash on the run and the action basically doesn’t calm down until the end. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, and reading whenever I could sneak it in; on the bus, standing in line at Starbucks, even during a lecture at school. I needed to know what happened to everyone.
I don’t want to give too much away, but The Awakened left me heartbroken yet oddly satisfied, and of course, wanting more. Like, now. THAT ENDING HAD ME FLIPPING OUT, and now I will be pacing around until the sequel comes out. No pressure, Sara. 😉
I gave The Awakened 5/5 stars on Goodreads and would recommend it to anyone who loves a good action packed end of the world story with undeniable chemistry and witty characters.
I had the opportunity to ask Sara, the amazing author of The Awakened some questions about the book, and about writing in general.
1. When did you first start writing? What made you decide that you wanted to start writing?
Well, I like to tell people that I started writing when I was 9 years old. We used to do this thing in school called “Writers Workshop”, where we had to write stories for homework and I didn’t do one for some reason. It was the winter story, and since I hadn’t done it, I couldn’t be a part of our holiday party until I finished it. I wrote one SUPER fast, and turned it in and my teacher basically gave me a disbelieving look, like “no way”. Well, it turns out I’d written a pretty decent story and ever since then, I thought, well, maybe this is something I could actually DO.
Plus I love books. I’ve always loved books since I was a little kid so the idea that I could create something like that was just TOO cool.
2. What three writers inspire your writing the most?
Oh this is hard. I think it sort of depends on the story that I’m writing at the moment. JK Rowling and Tamora Pierce are my favorite authors so they ALWAYS are a huge inspiration. For this particular novel…Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave was a huge influence on the science fiction and survival parts of the novel and Melissa Lander’s Alienated had a huge influence on the mix of science fiction and romance. Jessica Brody and her Unremembered series was also a massive influence.
But like I said, it depends on the novel. I wrote a new adult romance a few months ago and Cora Carmack, Sarina Bowen and Jennifer Armentrout were influences for that. It just depends.
3. Do you have a favourite scene or chapter from The Awakened?
I can’t say too much…its a huge spoiler. Let’s just say, in Zoey’s journey to find a place to survive, she encounters a group of Awakened and comes out of the fight very very changed. It was a hard scene to write, a hard scene to read but I think its a HUGE scene to the book. I’m sorry that’s so vague!
4. What was the hardest part to write in The Awakened?
Agh. More spoilers. The climax was easily the hardest part to write. I’m usually a pantser but I had to stop and plot this novel. Well when I plotted this novel, I didn’t elaborate much on this scene, and so when I got to it, I was so mad at myself! I provided future Sara with NO help at all! That simple sentence in the outline ended up being about three chapters in the book.
5. If you could use three words to describe The Awakened what would they be?
Survival, Action, Romance
6. As an aspiring author myself I have to ask. What advice can you give to others who want to have their work published?
I’m going to give you the best advice that I was given, multiple times, by so many authors. It took me ages to learn and I’m still learning. But the biggest advice I can give you is to just write. Don’t worry about writing crappy. You’re going to write crappy. I don’t believe in writer’s block. I think writer’s block is this thing that we make up when we are too worried about how good its going to be. Don’t worry about that. Just write. You can always go back and edit and rewrite and change things. You can’t edit a blank page. In the words of Jessica Brody, “don’t be afraid to write crap. Crap makes good fertilizer.”
7. What is your favourite snack when you’re reading or writing?
I usually have a bottle of water. I wasn’t a big coffee person until I became a barista but coffee makes me jittery and I can’t sit still and write haha. I usually have water. That’s about it.
8. You’re stuck in a room with Zoey and Ash. What would you say to them?
First off, I love you. LOL. Secondly, I’m so sorry.
I’m so so so so sorry. I put them through a lot! But I kind of have to. They
become better and different people because of the things that I do with them.
I’d also like to ask them what happens in the sequel because the sequel has
been such a struggle.
9. Aside from any more books in The Awakened world, are you hoping to publish other books/series?
I definitely hope so. Its funny because The Awakened feels like a sort of fluke to me! I normally write contemporary romance so this was random! I just finished the first in a new adult baseball romances series that I’m hoping will be published in the near future. I also have an idea for a sort of human/cyborg sort of space story but that’s just an idea floating in my head.
10. Last question! Who would be more likely to survive during a zombie apocalypse? Mike Newton from Twilight, Baz from Carry On, or Adrian Ivashkov from Vampire Academy?
Oh man. See…if you would have asked me BEFORE Carry On, I would have said Adrian, hands down. Because I adore Adrian. He’s one of my biggest fictional crushes. But Baz…aw I adore Baz. That’s a hard question. I think Adrian though. I think. Agh.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sara Elizabeth Santana is a young adult and new adult fiction writer. She has worked as a smoothie artist, Disneyland cast member, restaurant supervisor, nanny, photographer, pizza delivery driver and barista but writing is what she loves most. Her first story was written at age nine. She runs her own nerd girl/book review blog, What A Nerd Girl Says. Her favorite books are a tie between Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling and Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce. She lives in Southern California with her dad, five siblings and two dogs. Her debut novel is The Awakened.