Day 3: Amarok by Angela J. Townsend
Summary From Goodreads:
Emma’s life has been hell since she moved from sunny California to a remote Alaskan town. Abandoned by her father and living with the guilt of causing her mother’s death, she makes a desperate dash for freedom from her abusive stepfather. But when her car skids off the icy road, her planned escape leads to further captivity in a world beyond her imagining.
Dragged across the tundra by an evil mountain man and his enormous black wolf, she learns that love can be found in the most unexpected places. Amarok, as she’s nicknamed the wolf, is a young man from the gold-rush era enslaved by an ancient shaman. Emma’s gentle touch and kind heart win his love and devotion. When a vicious madman–trapped in bear form by the same Shaman–attacks the travelers and injures Amarok, Emma must find the strength to face her fears and free the wolf she’s come to love. But that means she must face down the evil shaman, a Siberian mammoth hunter from the ice age, and he has no intention of giving up his power to her.
I won an ARC of Amarok a month or two ago and I finally got around to reading it, hooray for crazy reading goals helping me to read more! ^.^ I wasn’t really sure what to expect stylistically since I hadn’t heard anything about this book before I won it, but I thought it would be a nice easy read, but without further ado let’s get into my thoughts on Amarok!
My initial thoughts as I was reading through Amarok were essentially “Oh no, SO much repetition, please, please don’t let this be a DNF, pretty please, must keep reading…”, so needless to say I was struggling. As the summary states Angela does feel she has caused her mother’s death and she has some serious mental instability because of the combination of that and the abuse of her step-father which is shown throughout the book. The problem is it was stressed WAY too much. It felt like every other page she was stressing how depressed she was and how she wanted to cut herself to relieve some of it and just, ugh. However, I do like the animal spirit elements which form the crux of this story and so I chose to push forward in the hopes that she would get over herself.
The world building was easily the highlight of Amarok, as the author creates a beautiful vision of Alaska in your mind to ease the depressing feel of what the characters are going through. From the vivid descriptions of nature to the hearkening back to an older and simpler time that the area Emma and Amarok traverse through seems to be trapped in, Angela Townsend’s imagery is fantastic. As corny as it is, I did feel like I was there in the rustic and treacherous environment of an Alaskan winter in the wilderness and though I’m sure it would be terrifying to be trapped there, it was awesome as a reading experience.
The characters, I don’t even…words truly fail me. Emma, sadly, is not someone I feel empathy toward at all as a main character. While tragedy often does not leave you, Emma dwells SO much on her sadness and pain as to be incredibly annoying, and to top it off she keeps referring to herself as being tough, a fighter. If she is so tough why does she have to repeatedly point out how much she is suffering, and not even about her current situation, all about what she supposedly caused to happen to her mother, I quickly found myself not caring about her plight. As for Amarok…well he was slightly better I suppose. His suffering seemed a lot more justifiable giving how much time was involved, and so even though his feelings toward Emma were a little “insta-y” for my taste they felt more real. Both characters kept saying how willing they were to die, not just for each other which could be considered noble, but just to stop feeling any more pain. When they don’t want to live anymore, and they don’t seem to care to find a purpose to even attempt to fix that, especially with Emma who just seems whiny, caring about their difficult situation seems pointless. They don’t care, why should we? Anyway…
Writing style. The second half to Townsend’s credit was much better. I think I could feel her developing, not relying so much on the constant reminders of suffering/sadness/etc. and really moving the story along. The problem is how long that repetitiousness continued initially, I am worried that most readers wouldn’t even bother trying to continue, I know I almost didn’t.
I don’t know if there will be a sequel to Amarok, but if Townsend can channel whatever happened to change the way the 2nd half was written into her next work then I think she will have a very solid book on her hands, however this felt slightly short for me. There is definitely an intriguing story to be continued here, and I will read the next book if and when it comes out as I am intrigued to see how the dilemmas left at the end work themselves out. I can’t say that I recommend reading Amarok for the reasons mentioned above, but I look forward to seeing what Townsend comes out with and I think her next piece will be worth looking into. Thanks as always for reading and I will see you tomorrow for day 4!