Monday, February 27, 2012

Awaken (YA)

Awaken. Katie Kacvinsky. 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 320 pages.

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.

Is Awaken a science fiction novel? Perhaps if you consider all books set in the future to be science fiction. Awaken is set in 2060. If I were to tell you the novel reads more like social commentary, would that frighten you away?

The premise of Awaken is simple. Maddie, our heroine, lives in a world where EVERYTHING is digital. Everyone--no matter your age--is always plugged into technology. If you're going for a walk with a friend--chances are, it's not a real walk, and you're not seeing your friend face to face. If you're meeting your friends at the coffee shop--same thing. And book club. And on those rare occasions when you do leave your house, when you do meet people, your technology isn't all that far away from you. You can be in the same room with someone and still be miles away from them--if your focus remains elsewhere.

The premise of Awaken is that people have forgotten how to LIVE their lives. They have forgotten what it was like to really feel, to really experience, to do. People have gotten comfortable--too comfortable choosing what is convenient, what is safe, what is known.

So the novel focuses on what happens when Maddie decides to start living life, what happens when she chooses to go out of the house, to start meeting people, to start hanging out with others. Of course, it's a bit more complex than that! Maddie's father isn't just anybody. He's SOMEBODY. And the strict rules are there for a reason--even though readers may not learn that for quite a while.

Read Awaken
  • If you like reading novels set in the future--like Rash, like Scored, like Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083.
  • If you like reading books that challenge you to think
  • If you like your dystopia with a focus on education
  • If you like your dystopia with a hint of romance

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

5 comments:

Lisa Fry 10:34 AM  

Sounds like an interesting premise. Certainly a commentary on today's technophilia.

Kailana 12:31 PM  

I have looked at this book a couple times, but haven't really decided if it is a 'must read' for me.

BlackHeart 8:36 AM  

Reminds me of two things. Fahrenheit 451 and Wall-E. But it sounds really interesting!

Lesley 3:39 PM  

I happened to come across a radio book review program which is on a Sunday, I don't know if you know about it? It is called Book Report Radio and Elaine Charles interviews prominent authors and gives book reveiws on the radio as well as asks the authors what research they did for the books. I think you can really learn more personal facts about your favorite authors. I think it's really worth listening too. You can find out the times and stations on the website: bookreportradio.com

Lovely Lady 10:28 PM  

I have been looking for something fresh and original. I can't wait to read this!

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I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
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