Review: The Awesome by Eva Darrows

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Seventeen-year-old Maggie Cunningham is tough, smart, and sassy. She’s also not like other girls her age, but then, who would be when the family business is monster hunting? Combat boots, ratty hooded sweatshirts, and hair worn short so nothing with claws can get a grip, Maggie’s concerns in life slant more toward survival than fashion or boys. Which presents a problem when Maggie’s mother informs Maggie that she can’t get her journeyman’s license for hunting until she loses her virginity.

Something about virgin blood turning vampires into pointy rage monsters. Blood and gore and insides being on the outside and all that.

Maggie’s battled ghosts and goblins and her fair share of house brownies, but finding herself a boy – fitting in with her peers – proves a much more daunting task than any monster hunt. Did you know normal girls don’t stuff their bras with holy water balloons? Nor do they carry wooden stakes in their waistbands. And they care about things like “matching” and “footwear.” Of course, they also can’t clean a gun blindfolded, shoot a crossbow, or exorcise ghosts from a house. Which means they’re lame and Maggie’s not. Because Maggie’s awesome. The Awesome, in fact. Just ask her. She’d be more than happy to tell you.

After she finds herself a date.

Some writers you can just feel the potential with. Eva Darrows is one such writer. Her strength is her witty writing and the truly believable voice she gives her main heroine Maggie. Maggie is witty and has tons of self confidence, but she’s also socially awkward and insecure in the way all teenagers are. She has a weird life of monster hunting with a weird mother and something of a weird personality on her own, but she finds a nice dude willing to put up with her strange life almost in spite of herself. Darrows’ writing sparkles with sarcasm and pop culture references that feel natural unlike some YA writers who try to add pop culture references and betray that they’re really not all that “hip to the young people”. Maggie is nothing if not honest about herself, part “The Awesome” and part insecure that her boyfriend thinks she’s a freak. Add to that her and her mother pissing off a vampire prince and suddenly Maggie’s life is thoroughly complicated.

The main complaint is that Maggie’s love life and her hunting life don’t really mesh all that well. Her boyfriend is nice, but he isn’t involved with the hunting life and gets sidelined, making him rather flavorless. It almost felt like the plot was jumping between two different story lines, one a romance and one an action/adventure. The action/adventure was better, but when most of the point of the book is the main character being “deflowered” so she can continue hunting, that makes neglecting the romance hard. And that part of the plot, in and of itself, makes this book fall in an odd category of YA, but WAY too adult to really be considered typical YA fare for a school library. If she’d just tweaked the ages a little this would have fallen right into the category of typical urban paranormal fantasy, but Maggie isn’t quite old enough to really firmly be considered for that genre yet the plot is too adult to really be considered YA. So the book straddles its own weird line somewhere in the middle. That being said, it’s worth a read just for the good voice of the heroine.

4 out of 5

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