Book Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5 / 5 stars)
Henry thinks he’s going insane. After hearing voices, his brother and best friend, Benjy, commits him to a psychiatric ward. But as soon as he arrives, he is shipped off to North Caroline, to the Institute…home of Psionic Arts. After discovering his newfound psychic abilities, Henry and his friends – Tamra, Milton, and Kylie – must undergo a process known as an awakening. But, the awakening might not just awaken powers this time…and are they strong enough to face the challenges it will bring?
In a story that has elements of Inception and Harry Potter, we are taken to the Institute and introduced to a diverse cast of characters, as well as the complex and terrifying world of the Psionic Arts. Cody Blake Wilson helps establish this world as an overlay to our own; psychics are among us, but some of them might just be janitors.
I really loved the concept of this story. Who wouldn’t love the idea of getting whisked away to a psionic institute, hidden in North Caroline of all places? I’ve always loved psionic arts as a theory, and seeing it explored on page is enthralling.
In addition, the story is made by the diversity and realness of the characters. In the short amount of time, we fall in love with Henry, Milton, Tamra, and Kylie, as well as Tony and Benjy. Their characteristics are clearly displayed, perhaps in a way that psychically embeds them into our minds, and we see them develop over time. This is most evident with Henry, who opens up, and Milton, who shuts down, each based on their own experiences at the Institute. The two serve as a clear foil to one and other, showing how not everyone will respond equally to the same experience.
As often is the case, I do wish the book was longer. It fell victim to its fast pace and length, unfortunately. From a personal standpoint, I prefer books that are a bit longer and give us a chance to grow with the characters. In the span of 200 pages, we cover a year, and Henry learns about all type of psionic arts. But we don’t actually learn with Henry. Instead, we are told all the details after the fact. This also adversely impacts how we experience the Institute, as well as Henry’s relationships; so much is told to us rather than giving us a chance to experience with him.
That being said, I don’t think it took away from the overall story. Ultimately, the Awakening is about more than psionic abilities. It’s about awakening who you are and your place in the world, no matter your age. Henry, as a person in his late twenties, shows that even after college, you might not know who you are yet. And that’s okay. Sometimes, you just need to be woken up to your true calling.
I can’t wait to read more of Wilson’s Awakened Universe. I think there is a lot to explore…and for some reason, I don’t think that was the last we’ll see of the monsters lurking in the shadows of Henry, Milton, Tamra, and Kylie’s minds.
What’s it about?
When Henry starts hearing voices and seeings things, he thinks he must be going insane. Instead, Henry finds himself at the Fullove Institute for the Psionic Arts, a training ground and governing body for emerging psychics.
In order to fully access their powers, all psychics must undergo an Awakening, a trial within the mind to uncover the source of their power. But what was supposed to be a routine procedure quickly becomes something much more dangerous for Henry and his new friends. Now, Henry, Tamra, Milton, and Kylie must each wrestle with the notion of who they thought they were, and who it is they are quickly becoming.
The first book in its urban fantasy series, and the first installment within The Awakened Universe, The Awakening explores how each of us finds strength, power, and love both within ourselves and each other.