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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

MICHELLE'S REVIEW: When We Wake by Karen Healey

Title: When We Wake
Author: Karen Healey
Format Acquired: Hardcover
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
Publishing House: Little, Brown Books for Young Reader
ISBN: 9780316200769
Source of Copy: Purchased from Fully Booked


Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027 - she's happiest when playing the guitar, she's falling in love for the first time, and she's joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice.

But on what should have been the best day of Tegan's life, she dies - and wakes up a hundred years later, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.

The future isn't all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better world?

(Image and information courtesy of Goodreads; Summary lifted from actual book)


When an assassination ploy goes wrong, Tegan's life will never be the same. Technically, she should be dead, but since she signed her body to science for when she dies, Tegan wakes up to a totally different reality, after being cryogenically preserved for a hundred years. All Tegan wants is to live her life on her own terms, but no one is having it, because the government - and science - didn't use funds just to save her. They have a bigger plan, and Tegan is only the beginning.

When We Wake actually forces its readers to reflect on present issues. While readers will be momentarily thrust into 2027, it is not hard to imagine that the environment would still continue to be in peril and that racism will still be imminent. But while I do care for the environment, I just don't seem to like it when the book I'm reading practically sermons me about the ongoing environmental decline. While I do like the tech Healey's predicted for 2127, I did find some descriptions to be insufficient. I don't like watered down world-building simply because world-building plays an integral role in crafting a universe where these characters exist.

Tegan's fairly likeable, sure, and she doesn't really go down without a fight, which is something that improves my opinion of her. But all the other characters might as well just fade into the background. I didn't find anyone that Tegan could realistically sympathize with - not even the new romantic interest, Abdi. I'm even chalking up all that attraction to him with the fact that he looks almost exactly like her first boyfriend.

What I do like in this book is the portrayal of the roles of religion and science. Tegan's not so much religious as much as she is spiritual, so I do get to play devil's advocate here and get the chance to weigh opinions and beliefs of both religion and science and try to find for myself that sweet spot I'm parking at. I like the fact that readers can get to reflect on that aspect for a bit.

While When We Wake is a decent attempt at combining together real and relevant issues like racism and religion vs. science, I don't think I will be anticipating the next in the series.


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