Awaken Me Darkly by Gena Showalter

ShowalterAwakenMeDarklyWhy I Read It: Future Earth infested with aliens that need to be policed by a tough, heavily armed woman in her late 20s? Perfect!

Where I Got It: Review copy from the publisher (thanks!)

Who I Recommend This To: Need some butt-kicking practical boots, alien murders, and a slice of romance? Check this book out.

Narrator: Justine Eyre

Publisher: Simon & Schuster (2013)

Length: 8 hours 58 minutes

Series: Book 1 Alien Huntress

Follow along inside Mia Snow’s head as she and the guys from Chicago’s PD AIR (Alien Investigation & Removal) team track down an alien serial murderer of humans. In her late 20s, she’s lived long enough to not make the basic mistakes. No, her mistakes are all complicated. Hence, the plethora of weapons she carries on her person. Mia and her partner Dallas get a little closer to the alien’s identity, at least, until he is very badly injured. In a future world where Earth is lightly infested with a variety of aliens, a deal had to be made. Aliens could live on Earth, provided they do so peaceably, following all laws. Members of the AIR team can use their professional discretion to execute a law-breaking off-worlder. Mia uses her wit and cool tech to track and capture first Leela and then her brother Kyrin, both powerful Arcadians with dangerous abilities. Oh, and there is sexual tension left and right.

First, let me talk about the cover art. There is no black lingerie anywhere in this book. Or is that a nightclub dress? There aren’t any skimpy black nightclub dresses either. Anyway, there is a white gauzy revealing piece at one point. So, while this cover is not aesthetically displeasing to me, it doesn’t really portray the awesome fun murder trip inside this book. I see one knife on the cover. Mia Snow would laugh. She wears practical boots, carries knives and guns (plural), and is trained in hand-to-hand combat. there’s aliens and a future world covered in new-fangle technology.  Can I please have some of that on the cover? If I saw this cover in the SFF section, I wouldn’t even give the book a second look. I’m looking for something other than a wee little knife and a black teddy in my reading.

OK, thanks for letting me share. Now, this book was a lot of fun. It is my first Gena Showalter book and I really enjoyed getting inside Mia’s head. Her past isn’t too dark, but definitely has grey spots, especially concerning her dead brother Dash and her distant father who turned abusive after loosing his son. She’s been reliant on herself for a long time and it shows in her work and snarky attitude. She holds her own in a male dominated career. I kind of had mixed feelings about that element of the story: Even in the future, men still dominate police business and women have to use attitude and occasionally a well-placed elbow to hold their own. While it sets up a fun and well-known dynamic, I had a little trouble believing us ladies hadn’t evened the battle of the sexes by the time the aliens found Earth.

So, back to the goodness. Men turn up dead and an alien is suspected. Leela is arrested and detained, though she is difficult to subdue with her strong telepathic abilities. Nevertheless, Mia manages it, barely. However, as more info comes forth, Mia becomes convinced that Leela, while not telling everything she knows, is not the center of the crime spree. Leela’s brother, an Arcadian who is quite nice to look at, wants his sister released. He offers Mia a trade: His healing blood for her injured partner Dallas in exchange for his sister’s freedom. Obviously, Mia can’t go for such a trade. Hence, a combative dynamic is set up between the two – they are both physically fit, emotionally damaged, and in need of a good lay. Yes, we’re talking about the romantic element here folks. I loved the sexual tension that gave a tantalizing undercurrent to the murder plot for the first 2/3 of the book. I won’t give away the ending to this subplot, but let me say the initial combative nature between these two was the best.

I really enjoyed how everyone had a past in this urban scifi (yes, I just made that term up). Mia has her issues with family. Kyrin and his entire race have a population issue on the homeworld. Then there are all the guys from AIR that I am looking forward to seeing what Showalter does with them: Kitty, Ghost, her boss Jackson, partner Dallas. The cool tech was interspersed along the plot, built into the furniture and weapons and transportation. While we really only spent time with one alien race, we heard little snippets of others. The world building for the series is off to a good start. While I would like to see more female characters, a bit more tech, and some related cover art, Awaken Me Darkly was still a fun read.

Justine Eyre, the narrator, was a perfect fit for Mia Snow. She gave the character a sensual yet no-nonsense voice. I could totally see Eyre in kick-ass boots while narrating this book, channeling Mia Snow. My one negative criticism is that sometimes the male voices were not distinct and I had to pay extra attention to figure out which male character was talking.

What I Liked: Female lead detective in a murder case; aliens inhabiting Earth under a treaty; cool future tech; Mia’s family issues; the sexual tension between Mia & Kyrin; the boots – I love serious boots; a woman with sensible weapons.

What I Disliked: Could use a few more female characters; unrelated cover art; the love scenes didn’t grab me as much as the initial sexual tension; even in the future, women are still fighting for their place in male-dominated careers.

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5 thoughts on “Awaken Me Darkly by Gena Showalter”

  1. I like a woman with good boots!! Plus a bit of romance. FTW with the cover though – this is a good example of a book that I would have completely overlooked in the market because of the cover and from your description I’m not sure why the front of the book looks like that! I’m not going into a rant! Just saying. It could be me who is wrong for overlooking books with a certain cover, or it could be the publishers who are wrong by portraying a book in a way that will not always convince a reader that the book falls into their reading zone.
    Lynn 😀

    1. I totally agree with you about the cover. If I was looking for a sexytimes book, I would look for a cover like this. If I am looking for SF aliens coupled with a tough female cop and murder mystery, I wouldn’t even look twice at this cover.

      1. Exactly! I love this ‘sexytimes’ description – confession, I never really go out of my way to look for a book like that and this is why this cover would put me off – probably because I end up thinking that’s all the book is about and I want some story with the sex – but I’m certainly not against it showing up in a book!!! That’s why this type of a cover is a travesty! It looks too one dimensional.
        Lynn 😀

        1. Very true. The sex in this book was basically 1-2 scenes, and not a book filled to the brim with sex, as I would expect from the cover.

          So, slap some sexy alien dude on the cover, a practical woman with multiple weapons, and I would definitely check this book out.

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