Hello, Cabbages! FINALLY! I have finished a book after “n” years. I haven’t done much at work since Thursday, and I had the chance to power through a short novel. If you haven’t been able to tell, this is a book review.
I was surprised to have received such a generous offer from the author, Ms. Calista Lynne, an ARC of We Awaken; in exchange for an honest review. And without further ado, let’s talk about this magical book.
Title: We Awaken
Author: Calista Lynne
Release Date: July 14, 2016
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Format Received: PDF
Synopsis (Goodreads): Victoria Dinham doesn’t have much left to look forward to. Since her father died in a car accident, she lives only to fulfill her dream of being accepted into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. But soon she finds another reason to look forward to dreams when she encounters an otherworldly girl named Ashlinn, who bears a message from Victoria’s comatose brother. Ashlinn is tasked with conjuring pleasant dreams for humans, and through the course of their nightly meetings in Victoria’s mind, the two become close. Ashlinn also helps Victoria understand asexuality and realize that she, too, is asexual.
But then Victoria needs Ashlinn’s aid outside the realm of dreams, and Ashlinn assumes human form to help Victoria make it to her dance audition. They take the opportunity to explore New York City, their feelings for each other, and the nature of their shared asexuality. But like any dream, it’s too good to last. Ashlinn must shrug off her human guise and resume her duties creating pleasant nighttime visions—or all of humanity will pay the price.
Rating: 2.5 Stars
According to Wikipedia (cause I can’t find one that gave a better & unbiased description):
ASEXUAL (adj.) is the lack of sexual attraction to anyone, or low or absent interest in or desire for sexual activity.
I just have to say, that cover is just STUNNING. It’s so beautiful. The instant I saw it, I knew I had to have it on my shelf! It does look fitting for a Graphic Novel more though.
In the easiest of explanations, We Awaken, is a magical-realism that revolves around two asexual girls and fell in love with each other. Actually, I am a bit concerned with the Goodreads synopsis giving 80% of the story already. This being said, it took away the element of surprise and mystery.
Honestly, I’ve always heard of Asexuality and I knew basic details about it but I don’t really fully understand it. I know that this book wanted society to be educated with asexuality, but it just didn’t do that for me. This book provided me with confusing explanations, that forced me to do my own online research. It probed new questions that somehow clashed with the details of asexuality discussed in the book.
Now, this leads us to my first disappointment. Victoria wasn’t happy to have been labeled “lesbian” by her best friend Ellie, when she first confided with her that she’s not keen on having sexual encounters with anyone. Until she met Ashlinn, she began to be enlightened with asexuality; and latter accepted the possibility that she might share the same sexual orientation. Reading the book, I felt like Ashlinn convinced Victoria she wasn’t a lesbian, and Victoria, after analyzing herself finally claimed she wasn’t BUT they ended up in a romantic relationship.
Here’s a question now, Is it possible to be a lesbian and asexual at the same time? Upon thorough research, I found out that YES, it is possible. If this is the case, I don’t see the point of having to defend Victoria’s initial sexual orientation (lesbian), since she can easily be both. It has been explained that an asexual has the possibility to be repulsed by the idea of sex, even if he/she is emotionally attracted to his/her partner.
(My brilliant mind says: since there wasn’t really a confirmation on Victoria’s sexuality, it can be deemed that she may be bisexual and not a lesbian. Possible, but I wonder if Ashlinn happened to be a guy instead of a girl, will she feel the same attraction towards him.)
When I was younger, I took up ballet lessons because well, like other little girls I wanted to grow up becoming a professional ballerina (with pink shoes!). This one factor as to why I decided to read the book. I enjoy it whenever a character finds solace in something (eg. ballet, art, sports, etc), they feel real, in that sense.
A life-changing tragedy or the death of someone dear, has always been a big factor in the premise of almost everything. In We Awaken, it was the loss of Victoria’s father, and her brother’s comatose state for almost a year, were a struggle. It was the factor as to why she refuse to ride or drive cars. To my dismay, only her relationship with her brother was highlighted, despite claiming that she’s very much close with her father. Of course the novel stated that he drives her to her ballet lessons, and is highly involved in supporting her in pursuit of her dreams but it fell short. I was looking for a deeper connection between father & daughters. There’s nothing wrong with this, I was just hoping for something that will pull out all the emotions out of me in terms of family relationship. My father left me & my mom when I was just three years old, and I’ve always envied little girls who share the love of their dads.
There came a time, when Ashlinn first took a human form. What bothered me is how easy it was for her. No complications, no begging a higher being to grant her an existence on Earth; it was like a normal thing for her to be doing, assuming human form, that is. And then, we reach the “climax”. The dilemma presented in We Awaken, didn’t impress me. It’s like something you pull out from a middle-grade fantasy book. I don’t know what complication might have been better for this novel, but the one used was a bit meh for me.
Should you want to know why I said what I did about the dilemma, click this [spoilers].
The story is too fast-paced. Things and situations weren’t stretched out or discussed thoroughly. It felt like bits and pieces of plots weren’t resolved, but rather set aside. A few weeks ago, I listed down the tropes I love-hate to encounter. And here I have encountered one that I definitely do not like! INSTALOVE. Please. It took them less than 5 dream encounters to have developed romantic feelings for each other. I know this is magical realism, but falling in love with someone doesn’t just happen. It takes months or even years to really get to know each other.
Please note that I do not all hate this book. I did have a few problems with it, but I gave it 2.5 stars because of its focus on sexual orientations. I came from an exclusive school for girls, and have friends who are not straight.
I agree on the silent advocacy presented by We Awaken and other novels out there who aren’t afraid to tackle LGBT. We have the right to choose who and what we will become. It’s time for society to erase the norms against people who have different sexual preference, to fully welcome and accept everyone on equal footing.
Asexuality proves that not being fond of sexual intimacies and acts is not to be criticized. It is as normal as having sexual affections for someone. The act of engaging in such is a choice, it is not by any chance, someone else’s decision for a certain individual. We are allowed to do things because that’s what we feel comfortable with, those who are asexual, are not freaks nor queer.
We Awaken didn’t blow me away, it was simply not for me. I’ll be honest, I’ve never been a fan of magical realism, and I thought this was going to create the change for me in terms of exploring that genre.
All in all, it’s a good book if you like magical realism, then I recommend this for you!
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ps. Pictures are from Google