Audiobook Review: Awakened by James S. Murray with Darren Wearmouth
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror
Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: HarperAudio (June 26, 2018)
Length: 9 hrs and 12 mins
Narrator: James S. Murray
Written by James S. Murray of Impractical Jokers fame with sci-fi author Darren Wearmouth, Awakened really couldn’t have come at a better time. Summer is here, and this impossibly fun and deliciously creepy horror-thriller would make for the perfect read by the beach, pool, or anywhere really—as long as it’s bright, sunny, above ground, and surrounded by people. Trust me on this, if you want to avoid nightmares.
Set in New York City, the story begins in a mood of celebration as the city’s long awaited new subway line is about to be officially opened. After years of construction, the state-of-the-art expression train complete with a visitor’s pavilion and underwater viewing area beneath the Hudson River is finally ready to take on its first passengers. Many important guests have gathered to witness and commemorate the inaugural run, including NYC’s mayor and even the President of the United States. Dozens of journalists from across the globe are also on site, ready to capture the historic moment when commuters disembark from that first train.
But deep below the city, something else is stirring. Ancient and monstrous, they have been there all along, but the recent drilling of the tunnels has disturbed the bedrock in which they make their home, and they’re about to make their displeasure known. As the first train pulls into the station, no smiling passengers greet the cameras. Instead, the cars are empty, save for all the blood and viscera splattered everywhere. But by then, it’s too late for everyone else to escape. Pockets of methane gas released from beneath the earth fills the tunnels. A breach causes water levels to rise. And in the darkness, nightmarish horrors are waiting.
If you’re claustrophobic, don’t read this book. Awakened gave me serious flashbacks to the Alien movies, especially the scenes where our characters find themselves in dingy, tight, dark spaces, with all that was missing being a hair-raising motion tracker sound effect. But if, on the other hand, you happen to be into books that read like a campy disaster thriller meets sci-fi horror, then this might just be up your alley. It might also please you to know that the story throws readers into the action right away, and that there’s absolutely no skimping on the blood and gore or edge-of-your-seat suspense.
When it comes to plot, I can’t say I typically expect much from books like these. To the authors’ credit though, they made a valiant attempt to thicken things up with a second act twist complete with a grand conspiracy theory about government secrets and supernatural phenomena. Totally ridiculous and over-the-top? Maybe. Yet the story was no less entertaining despite the insane shenanigans, and in the end, that’s what counts. In addition, the stage is set for a possible sequel, which would hopefully provide answers for the mysteries left unexplained here.
While the summer may be heating up, you can still count on Awakened to give you a few shivers. If you’re looking for a good scare delivered in a fast-paced, blockbuster-style novel with thrilling action and horror, this novel should do the trick. Overall, I thought it was a fun and thrilling read, perfect for a bit of escapism.
Audiobook Comments: I’m often wary of authors narrating their own books, but in James “Murr” Murray’s case, his theater and TV experience no doubt gave him the edge for voice-over performance and overall showmanship. Being the expert on his own story, he knew exactly how to deliver his characters’ conversations, which lines of dialogue to stress, and which parts of the story to emphasize. All in all, Awakened was a compelling listen.