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de Serra Elinsen
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Awoken by Serra Elisen (the nom-de-plume of Lindsay Ellis, Antonella Inserra, and Elisa Hansen) is the rare parody that stands as its own work of fiction rather than simply riffing on the original. Unlike Harvard Lampoon’s Nightlight, Elisen’s Cthulhu-themed story breaks down the problematic tropes of the teen supernatural romance genre, including the romanticizing of controlling & abusive boyfriends, tokenism of BIPOC characters, and the subtle endorsement of young women forgoing their agency in order to be with a man. Even as the story uses these tropes to advance the plot and comment on the genre, the tone of the story makes clear that Ellis, Inserra, and Hansen do not themselves endorse it. In-jokes from their respective YouTube work abound, including main character Andromeda “Andi” Slate loving Phantom of the Opera and the use of antiquated language in places when characters exclaim something. Those familiar with their work will enjoy these references, but a knowledge of the authors is not necessary to appreciate them. Best of all for horror fans, Elisen invests a great deal into accurately referencing parts of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, directly quoting Lovecraft’s 1928 short story “The Call of Cthulhu” and his 1936 novel, The Shadow of Innsmouth: “ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.” As a self-aware parody of supernatural teen romance and its own story, Awoken is a lot of fun.
The perfect homage to Fifty Shades of Grey, this work captured the romance and the pacing of the original, while adding elements of Lovecraft and Phantom in just the right amounts.
I can't rightly give this book a rating. I just can't do it.
I found this book via YouTube (those in the know know where) and the more I followed the creation process the more I knew I *needed* to read this.
I didn't count on actually enjoying the read - I was thinking that it would be like pulling teeth to get through it. But, strip away the characters, the style and tone, and like every thing else, you're actually left with a semi-decent plot? It's absurd. The "author" did too good of a job in places for what they were trying to do.
This was also great for me on a personal level, since I've been in a reading slump and have been taking months upon months to finish a single book, and on top of that I think I started reading a HP Lovecraft starter kit like three years ago and I'm only halfway through so this is great motivation for me.
All in all, I would actually read a sequel to this, just for the giggles it gave me.
I'm not sure if I'm supposed to admit this, but I was reading this as though it were parody, and I think it best to review it on those grounds as well.
As far as the parody of the melodrama of YA romances, this was very on point and over-the-top. At times, the melodrama was so believable one could almost belive that this were a straight YA paranormal romance.
For me, the most interesting (and disturbing) part of this parody was the main charater's relationship with her best friend. When I was watching the video and Lindsay and Nella were talking about how they had to make this relationship a balance of toxicity disguised as friendship, I was like "yeah, yeah, yeah" but I wasn't really interested in that as an aspect of the parody until I actually read the book:
"Bree Fifan [and I] had become inseparable over the past couple years, but I could still never quite figure out why someone like Bree would want to hang out with me. She was just so full of life in a careless way... She was as loud and quirky as her Goodwill clothes. and being the de facto leader of the school's 'thespians' (as she liked to call them) came naturally to her. On top of all that, she had the annoying habit of being crazy smart in just everything--nothing seemed to difficult for Bree, not even dealing with the taunts and catcalls that her edging-towards-marshmallow curves occasionally earned her... Being friends with Bridget Fifan could really make a girl feel inadequate. Not that is was her fault! Bree would never do anything to put a person down. I just couldn't help it. Bree was just so much... more than me."
The above passage really upset me when I read it, and I realize that there is a lot of that kind of friendship between girls in YA novels, it's just usually a lot more subtle. But, then again, that's the point of parody, isn't it?
Regardless of the well0constructed parodical elements, this was also an incredibly clean draft--there were few spelling/grammatical mistakes, which annoy me in self-published works.
Kudos for a good book and a point well made.
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In his house at R'lyeh, great Cthulhu lies dreaming... of her.What would you do if you discovered you were the only one in the world with the hidden power to keep it from utter annihilation?What if you had no idea what that power might even be?Andromeda Slate, the self-proclaimed most ordinary girl in America, can't figure out why the gorgeous but mysterious new boy at high school seems to hate her so much. It couldn't have anything to do with the strange dream she had the night before he first showed up in class, could it? The dream where the very same boy rescued her from a giant, green, tentacled sea monster?And it couldn't have anything to do with that time she read aloud from that ancient tome of eldritch magic, the Necronomicon... could it?Andi Slate never imagined she'd find herself in a situation where somehow she was the key to saving the world.Her life is about to get a whole lot less ordinary.
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I wish they had released it openly as a parody, accepted the publishing deal and gotten an editor. It has many funny parts and the "subtle" critique of the genre is ingenious. I rewatched the series before starting it and this turned out to be a huge bonus since it not only made me feel "in on the joke" but also helped me pay attention to the structure of the book and how each element is taken from an existing cliche of popular teen paranormal romance novels.
The main problem with Awoken is that it needed a re-write or an editor to cut out some mundane parts, like 3 pages of clothing descriptions. Some of these parts that are more faithful to the teen-romance formula act like a giant pause button to the flow of the text.
On the other hand the other big problem this book has is that it's not faithful enough to the formula. It had WAY more plot than the usual novels of the kind and was really consistent with the Cthulhu Mythos. This made it obvious that it was a parody written by fellow nerds. Only it wasn't supposed to be that way; the intention was to be believable as a Twilight knockoff.
This imbalance of not being 100% one or the other (parody or teen romance) was very annoying. The book's still enjoyable but it has many boring parts that slow down the reading process and take a lot of the fun away.
I wish it were better, my expectations were too high and were inevitably crushed. I don't regret buying or reading it though. ( )