Aliens and politics are usually two very different subjects that would not typically ever cross paths.
However, James S. Murray and Darren Wearmouth’s novel Awakened has merged the two worlds. Many people will know James Murray from being on the hit TV show Impractical Jokers. When I first heard that Murray would be releasing a sci-fi novel with author Darren Wearmouth, I wasn’t too sure how it would go. As a fan of Impractical Jokers, I’m used to seeing James in a much more comedic environment.
Therefore, finding out that his novel wouldn’t contain the humor that we all know and love, I was obviously intrigued to read it. When I finally got my hands on the book, I found that the sci-fi horror novel centered on an ancient horror in a New York subway line.
The novel starts seemingly quite innocent with the opening of a new subway train (the Z train) connecting New York City to the surrounding communities across the Hudson River. Politicians, TV crews and selected guests are all in attendance to celebrate the inaugural run of the train, something which is expected to make history.
The city’s Mayor, Tom Cafferty, and his team had been fighting for years to get the new subway system both approved and built, with the anticipation high for the inaugural run. You can almost feel the excitement flowing out of the pages as you wait for the train to arrive at the platform in the new state of the art Pavilion underneath the Hudson River.
The only thing that hinders this excitement is the arrival of President Reynolds.
Mayor Cafferty and President Reynolds had never seen eye to eye about the new Z train and had both attended a Senate meeting a decade before to weigh up the pros and cons. For years Reynolds was against the development of the Z train, therefore you can feel Cafferty’s frustration with the President, as he speaks so highly about the Z train to all the reporters in attendance at the event. As the reader, you can already see the intense political relationship between the Mayor and the President from the first two chapters.
The time arrives for the train to finally turn up at the platform.
However, to the horror of those in attendance at the event, the train somehow has no passengers and is covered in blood. It’s at this point that the readers begin to realize it may not be all as innocent as it seems and begin to question if the Mayor and the President will be able to put their differences aside to save their lives.
Without giving away too much of the story, it was hard to put the book down once I got to my stop.
It got to the point that when I wasn’t reading it, it was all I could think about. I’m not usually into reading sci-fi or horror/thriller novels, however, Awakened almost feels too real and somewhat plausible, which means it doesn’t actually feel like you’re reading a book about aliens.
The political side of the novel is really what makes it so special. The twists and turns and betrayals during the story mean that the reader truly never knows what is around the corner. While you may suspect that the alien element to the book is the key part of the story, it’s actually what is going on behind the scenes with the politicians and why the aliens are really there that keeps you gripped.
What really stood out to me was how I felt once I had finished the book.
Getting on the tube in London to university every day was once a normal part of my daily routine. Now, I question everything.
What will happen when we’re in the tunnels? Is there actually a big government conspiracy that will be exposed any day now? How safe are we really? While I know deep down that my concerns are obviously (hopefully) not true, there is something about Awakened that makes you doubt everything and question everyone. I love books that leave a lasting impact on you and to me, that is a sign of a good novel.
Overall, whether you like reading sci-fi novels or not, I recommend everyone read this book. At no point does the story feel far-fetched or unimaginable, instead it weirdly feels like it could potentially happen.
To make Awakened even better, it’s part of a trilogy! The second installment, The Brink, is coming out next month. I was so glad to find out that the book was part of a trilogy, as Awakened is left on a massive cliffhanger. While many questions that you have throughout the novel get answered, the ending leaves you with a whole new bunch of questions instead. I am eagerly awaiting the release of The Brink to see if any of my theories are correct!
Want more book recommendations? Check out our first ever global Reading Challenge!