Awakened Chapters 21 & 22

Chapter 21

Zoey begins by telling us Neferet wasn’t hard to find and tells us where she’s standing. That’s good to know, PCK. Here I thought that Neferet had brought her cloaking device to the party. Then the last thing Zoey would hear was a soft rat-tat-tat before being hauled up into the jungle canopy where Neferet could rip out her skull.

All of Zoey’s slaves rally about her, determined to make sure Zoey is surrounded. For them it’s a win-win. If they die protecting her, they get to duck out as gracefully as you can from this series. If they don’t, then Zoey may remember to favor them with lighter, less menial tasks. Zoey thinks Neferet must be insane to attack her at the funeral but she’s not going to back down. Then Neferet decides to strip.

It should have been embarrassing or uncomfortable or erotic, but it wasn’t any of those things. It was simply beautiful.

Simply beautiful…PCK can’t really describe it beyond that. Hell, even if it had been uncomfortable or erotic, the closest PCK could have got to describing it thusly would have been by telling us how Zoey’s stomach was doing and how much she’d filled her pants. Also, who the hell is Zoey to say it’s not uncomfortable? If I were a student and the principal started getting naked it would make me uncomfortable.

Neferet strips down as she walks to Zoey and talks about how she lied and betrayed Nyx and, worse, was seduced away from “the Path” by a man. Wait, I thought everyone knew Kalona was immortal and, therefore, not a man? Also, who’s supposed to buy that excuse? Like Neferet was just some lonely spinster who hadn’t touched a penis since she tripped into the boys locker room? She should have just stuck with mind control and blamed it on dark magic.

She kneels in front of Zoey and says she feels terrible. Zoey says she knows Neferet is lying and calls Neferet a “master manipulator”. Of course, Zoey says the same thing about homeless people begging on the street corner, so take that with salt to taste.

Zoey says she can’t turn down Neferet’s apology or she’ll look like a brat(too late). So she tells Stark to give her his shirt and hands it to Neferet. Zoey uses weasel words to avoid actually accepting the apology. She says she never wanted to be Neferet’s enemy and the only forgiveness she truly needs to seek is from Nyx. Neferet says she already has it then and thanks everyone.

There were murmurs all around the circle of “Thank the Goddess!” and “Blessed be!” I made myself smile as I bent and wrapped Stark’s shirt around her shoulders. “Please, get up. You shouldn’t be on your knees in front of me.”

You’re right, Zoey. You should both be on your knees in front of an executioner. Neferet then asks to give a send off prayer for Jack. Zoey says sure and Damien doesn’t argue. Even in grief, he knows not to countermand an order given by god’s own mouthpiece.

I think it was because I was staring at her so hard, trying to find the chink in her armor, that I saw all of what happened next.

This is something I’ve noticed PCK, and a lot of authors do, that needs to be restricted. They preface a moment of action by having the author step out of time for a bit and tell us that action is coming. It can work alright when the author is good at action and doesn’t want the pace broken by anything that isn’t. Or if they’ve done a good job getting the audience invested in a quiet scene and they’re looking to build the tension.

Authors like PCK, however, should just drop it. We know there’s a confrontation coming, you keep promising Zoey and Neferet will clash. And we’ve already known that it will happen at the funeral. Plus PCK sucks so bad at action that every scene they write cancels out a John Woo film. I’m pretty sure if you put these books on the shelf with Michael Bay movies over night, they turn into The English Patient.

Zoey hears a noise that’s familiar but won’t tell us. She closes her eyes and hope it all goes away. When she looks, Neferet is staring at Stevie and smiling. Then Dragon yells that there are ravens and Stark tells Zoey to get away. Neferet then says “die foul beast” and uses her shadow tentacles to pull Rephy out of the sky.

Stevie runs over to him, yelling not to hurt him. Everyone who isn’t the audience is so confused as to why Stevie is protecting him. Zoey instantly knows Stevie “imprinted” with him and everyone acts disgusted. I mean, he’s half human and zero percent vampire. How could you Stevie? That’s almost as gross as a full fledged human.

Naturally everyone is disgusted because he’s evil. Neferet says that, because Stevie’s allied with the “beast” that invited darkness into the school. Stevie says that’s “hogwash”, because there’s never a good time to curse I guess, and that Neferet sacrificed Jack to the darkness. Only because that was the best way to get it to sign the first issue of The Darkness for her along with its debut album.

Wow, how right I was about the talking. They sit around and talk about how Stevie and Rephy should be destroyed. Zoey asks if the imprint was by force. Wait, is that even something you can do? Force a vampire to imprint with you as a non-vampire? Stevie says no, he saved her life twice. Rephy begs for Stevie to let him go and maybe they’ll spare her and Nyx will let his soul into vampire heaven where he can wait for her.

Neferet keeps yelling at Dragon to kill them and Zoey says that the green bubble, there’s apparently a green bubble around them, is made from darkness. Neferet says “nu-uh” and tells Dragon to kill them again after she releases it. Which makes a whole lot of sense to me. It’s not life Neferet could just kill them herself. Luckily Kalona shows up to stop this stupidity. Kalona then starts fighting the local “warriors” and tells Rephy to come defend him.

Chapter 22

I’m still not too clear on how Neferet got Rephy to show up at that exact moment. Was she just sort of counting on him having bonded with Stevie? What would Neferet have done if Rephy had decided he’d rather nap than fly over Stevie?

Rephy tells Stevie to get Kalona to go against Neferet’s wishes and it’ll end. Stevie doesn’t understand, big surprise, but then begs Zoey to not let Stark hurt Rephy. Stark threatens Rephy if he hurts Zoey and runs off to the fray. Then everyone gives Stevie shit for Rephy, saying she screwed up.

Being the strong and independent women that PCK’s characters are, they’re all standing around while the boys fight. If only Zoey had some ability she could use to tur the tide or stop it entirely. Like, by bringing up a wall of earth or something to stop everyone. That might be out of place in this hyper-realistic story though. Stevie notices Rephy is just defending and tells Zoey to look.

He’s not killing anyone so he must be a good guy. Not defending because he’s surrounded by hundreds of vampires and even the best can get overwhelmed or even just a terrible fighter, he’s a good guy. Stevie decides that something has to be done and she’s going to help. Then she asks for Zoey’s help with the power of spirit.

Zoey says she’s not sure and Stevie asks Zoey to trust her. That’s all the clichés Zoey needs to hear to convince her. And then everyone else says they’ll pitch in as well because the power of friendship! They all get their elements ready and…tell them to give Stevie strength, basically. Sure they could manifest them in a surgical way to stop everyone but that’d be cheating.

Stevie uses magic to make vines grab everyone and stop them from fighting. Neferet says that it looks like Zoey and slaves have chosen evil. Stevie goes on a long tirade about how she knows Neferet is evil and to shut up. Stevie then looks at Kalona, thinks he’s hot, gets some resitance to his charms form Zoey’s magic and introduces herself. She begs him to try and find the good he once was.

Neferet then sends a shadow tentacle to grab Stevie and orders Dragon to kill them. Vader, I mean Kalona, tells the darkness to go away for the moment. Then he chides a lot of the vampires for not listening to Nyx.

Kalona asks if it’s true that Rephy and Stevie are together. Rephy says yes and Kalona starts questioning if he’s sure he wants to be with her because she can’t give him what she wants. Rephy says Stevie gives him love which he never got before. Kalona says that he loved Rephy, Rephy throws a tantrum and says no he didn’t. Rephy then says he chooses Stevie and Kalona says fine, he frees Rephy.

With his one job done, Kalona warns Rephy that if Stevie can’t love him the way he is it will kill him. Then Kalona flies off into the night. This all distracts Stevie enough to forget that Neferet exists until she says she’s not fooled. She orders everyone to kill Rephy again and Stevie panicks as she watches Dragon “descend on” Rephy. As it’s a cliffhanger, any bets that Dragon will stop with his sword right at Rephys neck and offer grudging acceptance?

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