Indigo Awakening by Jordan Dane – Advance Review

Book Jacket:

Voices told Lucas Darby to run. Voices no one else can hear. He’s warned his sister not to look for him, but Rayne refuses to let her troubled brother vanish on the streets of LA. In her desperate search, she meets Gabriel Stewart, a runaway with mysterious powers and far too many secrets. Rayne can’t explain her crazy need to trust the strange yet compelling boy—to touch him—to protect him even though he scares her.

A fanatical church secretly hunts psychic kids—gifted “Indigo” teens feared to be the next evolution of mankind—for reasons only “the Believers” know. Now Rayne’s only hope is Gabe, who is haunted by an awakening power—a force darker than either of them imagine—that could doom them all.

You can read an excerpt here.


While I’m generally pretty much guaranteed to enjoy a Jordan Dane book – and there was plenty about this story to remind me why I love this author – this one did end up being something of a mixed bag, for me.

However I did really, really like both the premise and opening moves of this story. A religious cult working their hooks into a broken family, a lost kid, alone on the mean streets of LA, and plenty of emotional damage all around – altogether this story definitely reeled me in. I was rolling along, completely vested in Rayne’s desperate search for her brother – when all of a sudden this book strayed into the realm of X-Men and insta-love, and suddenly I found myself pulling away.

First off, the X-Men aspect – while generally I enjoy a story about fantastic powers (I’m a huge X-Men fan), in this case, the Indigo powers just felt, to me, entirely too big and too unmoored. There was no mythology, no explanation, no rules, and no cost to the powers at all – the powers just exploded like a psychedelic light show, complete with ghostly hellbeast mascot, and while they were certainly very colorful and visually very interesting, to me they just didn’t feel tethered to the story, or grounded in the narrative. And worse, these overwhelming powers altogether saved the day entirely too easily, and far too often – and frankly it’s hard to vest in the danger and urgency of a situation when you know the Indigo of it all will inevitably triumph. I mean, there’s a reason Achilles needed his heel, and why Superman needed Lois Lane – without a vulnerability, without the possibility that they could be defeated, it’s just hard to get worked up about their peril. And what these kids could do was just too much, and way too out of left field.

But what Jordan Dane always does so brilliantly is bring emotional complexity to her characters, and it was once again very much in evidence in this story. These teens, alone and up against the world, all had so much going on inside their heads, so much emotional baggage and damage to deal with, and such distinct points of view (as the POV switched back and forth between them), that powers aside, they felt utterly three-dimensional and real. I absolutely loved the veracity of their real-life struggles, as they fought to deal with dangers kids should never have to face, to shoulder burdens they were far too young to bear – and that, to me, was the heart of this story, far, far more than the powers, and that aspect I really, really enjoyed. The was real emotional meat to this story, and I devoured every morsel with glee – it was what kept me reading – but I just wish it all had been the main focus of this story, in place of the out-of-the-blue powers.

And now we’ve come to the insta-love. As you probably know by now, I am heartily sick of “inexplicable” attraction being used as a short-hand to bypass personality based chemistry – and there definitely was a whole lot of insta-loving going around in this story. Lucas and Kendra connect mentally, and that’s pretty much it – she’s a moth to his flame, one and done. And as for Rayne and Gabe, well, the boy does save Rayne from a very dangerous situation (which was a very fun sequence), but all in all it takes about 0.3 second before they’re making calf eyes at each other, and it just left me grinding my teeth. Sure, Rayne and Gabe had secrets and loyalties that might possibly have almost threatened to separate them, but I never really believed they’d split up, because all the while they were spending far too much time thinking about how drawn they were to each other, and how beautiful he/she was. Gah. Now to be fair, I had nothing against either pairing – I just wish there had been far more of a will-they, won’t-they dance, more mistrust and miscommunication, more of a struggle all around before pairing up, instead of all this insta-together. But at least the romance wasn’t the be-all, end-all of this story.

As for the plot, well… Honestly this story just didn’t entirely come together for me. I liked the scope of the enemy, and the moves of the hunt and chase – but I just didn’t entirely believe the reasons behind why the Church was persecuting these teens. Still, I enjoy a creepy cult as much as the next girl, and I was by and large able to suspend my disbelief and enjoy the action of it all. But while this story does cover a lot of ground, it also felt like it never formed a complete picture – I could never get a handle on the paranormal underpinnings, and so I could never really buy into the mythology. Honestly far and away my favorite parts of this story were the real-world elements – the realities of teens who have no one to trust, and the inner conflicts of the characters. And although the plot did move along well, it also felt uneven – Gabe’s story in particular suffered from too much info-dumping, and a far too easy resolution to his struggle to control his powers. And of course, as I said above, the Indigo powers conveniently saved the day far too often for my liking. All in all this story just didn’t entirely…work, for me.

And yet, there still was enough to this book to keep me reading – it just was a very push and pull kind of experience, a see-saw kind of read. Parts of this story would draw me in, and parts would drive me away, and so I alternated between being engrossed by and then alienated from the story. In the end, I can’t quite make up my mind how I feel about this book – though I do know for a fact that it’s not my favorite Jordan Dane book (In The Arms of Stone Angels still firmly holds that title). All I know is that I do care enough about these characters to want to know what happens next, and so I do think I’ll be picking up the next book – I just will be picking it up with a certain amount of trepidation.

Byrt Grade: B+

As Levar Burton used to say – you don’t have to take my word for it…

Fictitious Musings says:

The story is fast-paced, with plenty of suspense to keep you on edge as the bad guys and good guys square off in a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse.

Books With Bite says:

Now, the plot, it felt a bit off to me. Maybe cause there are a lot of unanswered questions. I felt like, I need more of the story in order to grasp it more. You know what I mean? Still, the plot kept me on my toes…

RT Book Reviews says:

Dane’s first offering in her new series, The Hunted, is sensational. It has strong characters and a wild and intense story…