The Woken Gods by Gwenda Bond
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Five years ago, the gods of ancient mythology awoke around the world.
This morning, Kyra Locke is late for school.
Seventeen-year-old Kyra lives in a transformed Washington, D.C., home to the embassies of divine pantheons and the mysterious Society of the Sun. But when rebellious Kyra encounters two trickster gods on her way back from school, one offering a threat and the other a warning, it turns out her life isn’t what it seems. She escapes with the aid of Osborne “Oz” Spencer, an intriguing Society field operative, only to discover that her scholar father has disappeared with a dangerous relic. The Society needs it, and they don’t care that she knows nothing about her father’s secrets.
Now Kyra must depend on her wits and the suspect help of scary gods, her estranged oracle mother, and, of course, Oz–whose first allegiance is to the Society. She has no choice if she’s going to recover the missing relic and save her father. And if she doesn’t? Well, that may just mean the end of the world as she knows it.”
“Gods behaving badly” is something of a theme in young adult literature in the past few years. Perhaps we have Rick Riordan to blame for this, with his best-selling Percy Jackson books, but be that as it may, kids overcoming massive supernatural odds is kind of a thing. What I enjoy about them is seeing all the ways in which the gods intrude into human life—and which gods show up for the party.
In this case, I really appreciated that Bond utilized gods that aren’t often seen (if ever). For example, I’m a mythology buff, and even I didn’t know that the god Enki was Sumerian until identified as such in the narrative. To me, that’s impressive. And he’s not relegated to the background, either. He plays a fairly large part in the plot, alongside more common gods like Set and Coyote. Interestingly, the really well-known gods like Zeus and Osiris never make an appearance, keeping the lesser-known deities firmly in the limelight.
Bond has thought out her world’s backstory and history pretty well, even providing a plausible reason why several pantheons’ worth of rampaging gods would allow humanity to live unscathed and mostly unconquered. This is due to the presence of the Society and the relics that they have collected over the centuries in a very Indiana-Jones-ish fashion. I would have liked to have gotten a bit more of a sense of the Society in the rest of the world outside of Washington, D. C., where this novel takes place, just for a sense of perspective.
I found that I liked Kyra, and I was appreciative of the fact that she has a friend who is a former boyfriend, Tam. There is some mild insta-chemistry going on between her and Oz that feel a little predictable, but it’s low-key enough that I didn’t get annoyed with it. I guess that a teen novel almost has to have romance in it, but I was much more interested in the plot and glad that it didn’t get eclipsed by mushy stuff.
I found this book to be surprisingly involved and engaging, and I do hope that the author continues this story sometime in the near future. The Woken Gods is an original take on the subject of gods vs. humanity, with a heroine who is strong, stubborn and resourceful. Fans of Riordan’s novels should definitely add this to their to-read list.