Debbie's World of Books
My book reviews, book news & random rants

Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

August 11th, 2011 by Debbie's World of Books

Source: Downloaded from NetGalley

Publication date: May 23, 2011

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars

Summary from 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.

When I first read the summary of this book it sounded right down my alley.  I love dystopia’s and I’m always a sucker for a good romance but the book started off a little rough for me.  It took picking it up a couple times and putting it back down and then picking it up again after seeing several friends whose taste I trusted say they loved it.  I kept with it this time and I’m not sure at what point it took place but it really sneaked up on me and I loved it.  I had about 30 pages left when my commute to work was over so instead of my morning routine of breakfast and going through email I snuck in a few more minutes of reading to finish it off.

I absolutely loved the characters.  At first it did irk me that Maddie who was supposed to be this computer whiz and socially awkward girl is of course gorgeous.  I’m not saying computer geeks can’t be pretty but come on!  Why do they always have to be gorgeous in these books.  Can’t the mousy looking girl catch the hot guy now and then?  But that is beside the point.  Maddie was the perfect blend of the naive teen who grew up always “plugged in” and rarely having face to face interactions and rebelliousness against a system that so restricts people’s choices.  I could also relate to her as she went through technology withdrawals.  To be honest the thought of not having internet access, reading email, etc makes me jittery just thinking about it.  I remember I had to go one week using dial up service to get online and even that was torturous.  I can only imagine how it must be to go from being online pretty much 24/7 to being cut off cold turkey.

Then there is Justin.  Can I just say swoon?!    He struck me as so much older than 20 but I guess that is what happens when you are left pretty much on your own and make it your life’s purpose to save other people.  I loved seeing him open up in small ways like knowing how to cook and letting Maddie experiment with peanut butter, tomato and other horrid sounding sandwich combinations.  It was cute and so out of character with the serious, activist persona he tries to portray.

The supporting characters were just as intriguing.  I love Maddie’s mom and how she secretly tries to help Maddie rebel.   I’m curious how she ended up with a husband that is so far gone in technology invading people’s lives while she still enjoys introducing her daughter to actual paper books and *gasp* encouraging Maddie to write in a paper journal.  Justin’s set of friends are also a curious mix of personalities that I can’t wait to see more of.

I think the story itself draws in the reader because while it’s a dystopia it’s not that too far off from where we are now.  With Facebook, Twitter, blogs, iPads, etc I feel like people are constantly hooked into the internet and a lot of social interaction takes place in online communities.  I know there are several people I talk to on Twitter, online book club and baby boards that I feel like I am closer to than some of the people I have actually met in person.  Like I mentioned above I am a tech junkie and would hate to not have access to these online worlds and with the rate of violence increasing in schools it would not surprise me if we start moving towards digital schools.

And of course there is the romance.  I loved seeing Justin and Maddie together and Justin made my heart pound and wish I could be in Maddie’s shoes sometimes.  I liked that although Maddie was in love with Justin she didn’t blindly go along with his opinions and causes.  She was torn between her love for him, what she thought was the right thing to do and her love for her family.  My favorite piece of advice for Maddie came from Justin’s mother.  While she encouraged their relationship she tells Maddie that she shouldn’t NEED Justin to feel whole.  She has to be comfortable being on her own too.  I loved that because I feel like that’s one thing that doesn’t come across often enough in these YA romances.  You often see the heroine or hero who will just die pining from heartbreak if they were to lose the other person or even be separated from them for too long.  The relationships are so needy it can’t be healthy.

When I finished this one up I sighed in happiness and some regret as I realized I would have to wait patiently for the next book.

Posted in 4 Star Books, Books, Dystopia, Young Adult

4 Responses

  1. Kailana

    The cover keeps catching my eye for this book. I am glad to hear that it is mostly worth the read!

  2. Bibliotropic

    This is a book I read a while ago and really enjoyed. It walks the fine line between cautionary tale and entertaining world-building, and was quite fun!

  3. Michelle

    I thought this was such an amazing read. Another one of the best I’ve read this year. It felt really original for a dystopian and was quite thought provoking.

  4. Debbie's World of Books

    Kailana-Definitely pick this one up!
    Bibliotropic-totally agree
    Michelle-yes! I cannot wait to read more.

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