Saturday, May 18, 2013

Book Review - Awakening

Awakening (Tankborn, #2)Awakening by Karen Sandler

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Tankborn, the first book in this series, set me on fire. I loved the storyline, the concept of a dystopian future where a group of Earth émigrés set up an exacting caste system when they colonize a new planet. The castes begin with Highborn Trueborns at the top, and untouchable Gens (people born in tanks whose DNA has been combined with animal DNA to endow them with certain skets – skill sets) at the bottom. Skin color is an integral part of the system, Highborns have a perfect brown tone. Anything too light or too dark is lower on the ladder. The facial tattoo distinguishes a GEN. They may be any color. A romance grows between Devak, a Highborn, and Kayla, a GEN assigned to work for his family. They both learn some hard truths about reasons for the caste system, the real origin of GENS, and Kayla’s personal history. A conspiracy is uncovered, and Kayla barely misses out on a chance to take one step up the caste ladder and become a Lowborn. Instead she joins an underground movement seeking to improve the lot of GENs.

Awakening takes place some months later. I started the book, eager to see what would happen next. Unfortunately Awakening suffers from pacing issues. Kayla wanders around the countryside, and the pages. Her role with the Gen underground has her traveling and delivering messages and supplies. But the story seems to take one step back for every two steps forward. A disease is running across the land, striking only GENS. Sick GENS are being rounded up and taken away. At the same time there is a new drug available for Highborns, one that can restore strength and fitness. Devak’s grandfather is both a member of the underground seeking to help GENS and a recipient of this medication. Yet no one seems able to connect the dots between these developments.

Likewise, although Kayla is suspicious of the new Gen who joins her caravan, she never acts. At times his actions were so obvious I wanted to reach into the page and grab her and make her take another look at what he did. Coincidence should only be accepted for so long.

Then there was Devak, also a member of the underground. The first time he lamented on the impossibility of there being anything between a GEN and a Highborn, I sympathized. But it happens every time the story enters his point of view.

During the long road to the solution of several intersecting mysteries there are many detours and false starts. I have a feeling that if someone had just cut out about a hundred pages, this would have been a smooth, book; a real page-turner.

I still want to read book three, but mostly I hope it regains the vitality of book 1.

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