Reading: Gwenda Bond — The Woken Gods

I have no idea why I put this on my reading list, or where I originally fell across it, though I do have a recollection I was quite keen to get hold of it, and almost ordered it twice. I’m pretty sure it was … eh, I have no idea. I did end up on her website about a month ago, so I was doing Human Flesh Search Engine in deciding if I wanted to read it. This was also around the time I was diligently trying to find some new Skiffy and/or Fantasy to read.

The Woken Gods arrived last week, same day as a large stash of other stuff, which I’m also reading, and I began it a couple of days ago. Slight disappointment when I discover it’s Young Adult, a genre I hated even during those years I qualified as, which I thought was a synonym for patronisingly simple story set in large type with small words, and with characters who would hate me if they met me – this was a mutual sentiment; and barely disguised Morality Tale. Yes, I was a peculiar child. I have read stuff that falls under the ægis of YA which I find brilliant, China Miéville’s Railsea, Jo Walton’s Among Others, some of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, all of which I would foist on someone of an age who deserved to be reading proper fiction (and not that ghastly stuff that pretends to be genre-less). The Woken Gods isn’t one of them.

It reminds me of some of Cory Doctorow’s near-ish future stuff, or Alif the Unseen (or a light Neil Gaiman’s American Gods), where the characters are too earnest and fulfilling a role rather than an identity with agency. They read like pastiches of the idea of a person in the situation the story inhabits, and exist only to this end. The narrative and mise en scene also suffer from this, and sometimes I wonder if it’s a world build around, “What if Harry Potter was an emo girl in Washington and instead of magic there were all the gods from everywhere?” I wonder sometimes if my approach to reading is a little severe.

The first person language and dialogue is equally very American, or perhaps the idea of teenage American, though curiously no one says, “doing it for teh lulz,” or “haters gonna hate” or other phrases that would somehow denote a near-future location, rather it feels like Mean Girls might be sitting at the next table over. Anyway, I don’t find any personal affinity with the protagonists. I keep reading though, curious as to how Bond will resolve the story.