On the block today is THE AWESOME by Eva Darrows. Holy shit, did this book live up to my expectations. First off, can we talk about the cover please? I want an 11.5×17 poster of it on my wall right fucking now. It’s totally throwback B-movie magnificence, I love the acid green/hot pink combo, and I found it fit the vibe of the book.
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.
Let me tell you something about Maggie, okay? Maggie Cunningham is the foul-mouthed little sister to Chuck Wendig’s Miriam Black with a dash of Joss Whedon. I loved this girl. I love that the most terrifying, difficult, skin-crawling task she has to face is being a seventeen year old girl. As a former seventeen year old girl, I can tell you that it is, in fact, awful. I am with Maggie 100%. But you know what? Maggie is spitfire. She battles ghosts and zombies; she can totally take on being a teenaged girl.
That being said, Maggie has so much dimension. Yeah, she’s a badass and she knows it, but she’s squishier on the inside that she’d like to admit. She’s deeply devoted to her mom, she’s a good friend (which probably surprises her), and yeah, she gets scared and upset. But Maggie knows her own power and is sure as shit not afraid to use it.
The story itself is a wild romp. I couldn’t put it down. I love the world-building in that monsters are a known thing. No hiding behind lame excuses; monster hunting is a real job and that’s awesome. I hate the “hiding in the shadows” cliché. You so did not get lacerations that deep “falling off your bike.” The other characters–Janice, Jeff, Lauren, and Ian–are so well developed. And the monsters themselves are killer. I love Darrows’s vampires. The second she mentioned piranha teeth, I squealed because that’s how I’ve always envisioned them.
I have to admit I warred with myself over the whole “virginity” thing. I guess I get it, but at the same time my brain went on a “virginity is a myth. You’re sexually experienced or you’re not. No one’s summoning unicorns around here” rant. It might have made more sense if she’d done the Ginger Snaps period route and told Maggie to shove a tampon in it, but it is what it is. Honestly, though, I think what made it better in my mind is Maggie’s undaunted forwardness. She’s not in it for love and romance, she needs to drop her V-card like a hot potato to level up in her career.
I highly recommend this book. There are some great twists and turns, an abundance of sass and swearing, and it’s probably the most fun I’ve had reading in a while. I sorta wish there was a second one, but I’m selfish.
THE AWESOME is out May 26th, 2015. You can preorder from Amazon by clicking this link.
If you want other spooky scary stuff, check out MARY: THE SUMMONING by Darrows’s alter-ego, Hillary Monahan.