Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky - A Book Review

Title: Awaken
Author: Katie Kacvinsky
Pages: 352
Published: May 23rd, 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Books
Synopsis:

Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.

Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.

In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space. (from goodreads.com)

I actually read this book back in January, but I wanted to wait until it was closer to the release date to post my review. That way you wouldn't forget about it by the time the book was actually published for sale.

Awaken, one of the many dystopian novels released this year, is an intriguing take on the future that will rope you into the depths of it's electronic insanity. In Maddie's world, with everyone in front of their computers for socializing and school, you can be whoever you want to be. Don't like what you said, no problem, just hit delete and you're set.

But, is that ever really enough?

Personally, I'd say no, but for Maddie, our main character, she's mostly content with her life. It isn't until she's persuaded to attend a study group, that she actually gets out of her house and meets up with some new people, face to face. BUT, why are these people so insistent on persuading Maddie to get out of the house? I mean, they don't really know her. There has to be something we aren't seeing. Of course there is, but what is it exactly...???

*insert evil plot music here*

The premise for the book was rather interesting. I've read dystopian, quite often in fact - as it's being published right and left - and I felt that this particular read was a little different than some of the others. The world Ms Kacvinsky creates actually saddened me a bit. To think of a world void of any real paper to write on or read from because there weren't really any real trees. Instead, the trees and grasses were artificial and their aroma couldn't permeate the air. Furthermore, the sea life was dead due to pollution. I mean, at the rate we are going, I see it happening some day (FYI - I read this as an e-book *wink wink*), but it's so very sad. It really makes a girl think.

As to what I think - I don't know how I really feel about Maddie, our narrator. She was strong and seemed smart, although I could have used more development on that front, but moreover she seemed overly trusting. This above all else gave me pause. I mean, she meets Justin and I get the automatic attraction (not love, mind you), but I don't get why she trusts him so fast. He is always asking her "do you trust me?" and she is always replying with "yes", but I don't see the reasoning behind it. Plus, I also think that when Justin screws up, Maddie forgives him WAY too quickly. Then again, I may have forgiving issues, but still...

A third of the way through the book I didn't know how I felt about it, I was frustrated with the turn of events and the development. I was frustrated with the characters and their personalities. I was frustrated with the lack of a back story on said characters. But, then the book progresses and picks up and it was like, whoa! This book just raised up to a whole new level. The plot began to move faster, the development of the characters started to make a whole lot more sense and we got to see so much more of the world behind the madness. A world where Maddie's father is truly intent on power, a world where her mother is a loving, caring person, a world where love still exists, a world where maybe, just maybe, Justin earns his trust from Maddie.

Overall, I enjoyed this book; the characters and the story that was woven through my electronic pages. I enjoyed the police chases, the electronic craziness and the world Ms. Kacvinsky created. The more I learned about the world Maddie lived in, the more it made sense. It may have been slow to start off, but it picked up by the end. So, if you are looking for a new Young Adult, Dystopian Fiction book that has a spark of life to it, this could be a perfect fit for you.

Quotes:

My mom gave me an old leather-bound journal for my seventeenth birthday. At first the blank pages surprised me, as if the story inside was lost or had slipped out. She explained sometimes the story is supposed to be missing because it's still waiting to be written. Leave it to my mom to give me something from the past to use in the future.

"Let's just say there's only so much of life that can be taught by pushing a bunch of buttons and looking at a screen." he took a fast turn around the corner and I could feel the car accelerate. (Justin)

I spoke my answer out loud an dmy voice was automatically converted into a digital message. I decided maybe was the best response, just in case I lost my nerve. I hit send and a second later he responded.


Life is too short to say maybe.


I narrowed my eyes at the screen. Why was he pushing this? Why couldn't he let me be noncommittal and leave me alone about it?

"Don't worry about hurting me, if that's what you're afraid of. I want to get hurt. At least I'll feel something for a change." I stared him straight in the eyes. It was a relief to finally say these things out loud.


He let go of my hands. He didn't say anything, he just watched me. I stood up and walked toward the house. I knew Justin wouldn't come after me. And he didn't. But maybe I was getting through to him. He forced me to open up all my sense, to imagine a lifestyle different from the one I settled for. Maybe I was having the same affect on him.


7 comments:

  1. Nice review Jen! I had a little trouble with the characters in this one as well, I got frustrated with Justin and his preaching, but after I finished it I realized I really did enjoy it overall and I'm hoping she's going to write a sequel:)

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  2. @Jenny - I couldn't agree more. I didn't like the preaching either and Justin seemed so weird to me at first. I think everyone seemed more real at the end.

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  3. It's a nice thing when a book doesn't make you disillusioned at the end. I've read some other reviews of this one and I've noticed people shared your opinion about the characters. Maybe I will read it after all ;)

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  4. Overally, I enjoyed this one, too, though I felt it was a bit too preachy for my taste. I enjoyed reading your take on it though, and I'm glad the story rang solid for you :)

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  5. love the review, and agree with it, mostly, though i think the story was a bit preachy sometimes.

    PS- is it just me or are your letters changing sizes during the review? I got that feeling

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  6. I love the cover of this book, and the premise behind the story is great. :) I'll add it to my wish list for sure!

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  7. there are a lot of good books coming out and this is one of them. =]

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XOXO Jen the Bibliophile

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