by Eva Darrows
Seventeen-year-old Maggie Cunningham is tough, smart, and sassy. She’s also not like other girls her age, but then, who would be when the family business is monster hunting? Combat boots, ratty hooded sweatshirts, and hair worn short so nothing with claws can get a grip, Maggie’s concerns in life slant more toward survival than fashion or boys. Which presents a problem when Maggie’s mother informs Maggie that she can’t get her journeyman’s license for hunting until she loses her virginity.
Something about virgin blood turning vampires into pointy rage monsters. Blood and gore and insides being on the outside and all that.
Maggie’s battled ghosts and goblins and her fair share of house brownies, but finding herself a boy – fitting in with her peers – proves a much more daunting task than any monster hunt. Did you know normal girls don’t stuff their bras with holy water balloons? Nor do they carry wooden stakes in their waistbands. And they care about things like “matching” and “footwear.” Of course, they also can’t clean a gun blindfolded, shoot a crossbow, or exorcise ghosts from a house. Which means they’re lame and Maggie’s not. Because Maggie’s awesome. The Awesome, in fact. Just ask her. She’d be more than happy to tell you.
After she finds herself a date.
Well, this was fun! I love an epic, emotional fantasy book or series just as much as the next person, but sometimes it’s so refreshing to read the kind of fantasy that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Enter The Awesome.
Maggie Cunningham wants to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a fully qualified monster hunter, but there’s just one problem: to get the promotion she needs, she needs to have sex. Vampires go berserk over virgins which isn’t ideal when her chosen career path is to be the kind of person who stakes them through the heart when they misbehave. Maggie has practically no experience with most people her age, though, let alone people of the opposite sex, so trying to find a date intimidates her far more than trying to exorcise a ghost.
The Awesome is so readable; I sped through it in a day and had so much fun with it. Maggie’s narrative voice is guaranteed to make you smile, although it might take a little getting used to, and while the sense of humour in this book is sometimes silly, it’s harmless and never stupid. Sure Maggie can be crass and snarky and she and her mom, Janice, aren’t what you’d call conventional, but they feel like a real mother and daughter and not like a YA heroine and her cardboard cut-out parent.
I love books about mothers and daughters, and I particularly love books that treat parents like real people who still want to do other things with their lives besides be parents, because becoming a parent doesn’t mark the end of anyone’s life. Janice alone is proof of that.
The Awesome also has a lot to say about sex positivity, and it’s something Maggie herself has to learn; there are some brilliant conversations between her and Janice about how sex should always be safe and consensual and doesn’t need to be anything else. As far as Janice is concerned, Maggie can have as much or as little sex as she likes, with as many or as few people as she likes, as long as it involves consent and condoms. Considering how easy it is for young women, in particular, to be judged for having a healthy sexual appetite, it was great to see this addressed in a book about a young woman who’s looking to have sex for the first time.
I also loved that while Maggie’s relationship with the boy she ends up dating, Ian, is very sweet, it doesn’t takeover the plot. Considering this is a novel set in a world where monsters exist, the romance is probably one of the most realistic romances I’ve come across in a YA novel with a contemporary setting. There are no dramatic declarations of love, just a pair of teenagers figuring each other out; it’s casual, but also very tender, and together they work as a couple. The Awesome is still very much about Maggie and Janice, though, and I’m glad Janice doesn’t become a secondary character as soon as Ian appears on the scene.
More than anything else, this book is enjoyable and perfect fun Halloween reading. It’s the kind of book that reads like a movie or TV series, so if Netflix could maybe pick it up for next Halloween, that’d be, well, awesome!