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

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

January 3rd, 2012 by Debbie's World of Books

Source: Won in a giveaway from S.J. Kincaid author of the upcoming book Insignia

Publication date: October 4, 2011

Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars

Summary from I am red now. It was her first thought of the day, every day, surfacing after a few seconds of fogged, blessed ignorance and sweeping through her like a wave, breaking in her breast with a soundless roar. Hard on its heels came the second wave, crashing into the wreckage left by the first: he is gone.

Hannah Payne’s life has been devoted to church and family. But after she’s convicted of murder, she awakens to a nightmarish new life. She finds herself lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, with cameras broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for whom observing new Chromes—criminals whose skin color has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime—is a sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red for the crime of murder. The victim, says the State of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she shared a fierce and forbidden love.

I had high hopes for this book after seeing some of my favorite bloggers raving about it and my disappointment in not winning a copy of Insignia by S.J. Kincaid (which looks amazing) was somewhat alleviated when I found out I did win a copy of any book I wanted.  This book started off amazingly and I thought it was going to top my list of books read in 2011.  Sadly about 3/4 of the way through it definitely took a downturn.

This story tackles several controversial issues regarding separation of state and church, abortion and the death penalty.  The idea of Chromes was an interesting solution to the over crowding of prisons and the high cost of taking care of prisoners.  There is no way of hiding that you committed a crime and the different color system even lets people know the type of crime you have committed.  On the surface it sounds like a great idea but then you run into the gray area of whether or not having an abortion constitutes murder.  There are differing opinions and I know many people who are very vocal about how they feel but it is interesting to see how actually being in such a situation may affect your choices.  I felt bad for Hannah who has to make the choice of having a baby out of wedlock, ruining the life of the man she loves and destroying the faith of millions of people or going through with a procedure that goes against everything she’s been raised to believe.

I found it fascinating to watch the transformation in Hannah as she is forced to realize what life s really like outside of the sheltered life she has lead up to this point and having to question the laws and decisions made by the people around her.  That said there were a few things that started to knock down how I felt about this book.

First was the father of Hannah’s unborn child.  Maybe it’s because we don’t get to see his point of view but I found his reaction to the pregnancy, abortion and living with the consequences of Hannah’s actions abrupt and unreal.  It would have been nice to see how his feelings built up and lead to the actions he finally makes in the end.  Instead it almost comes out of the blue and therefore hard to believe.

Then there was also point where Hannah feels some sexual confusion as she finds herself attracted to and becoming sexually involved with another woman.    I did not understand how this fit into the story as a whole as I don’t feel like this was ever in question before and it’s over so quickly and she is back to mooning over the father of the baby.

Still for the most part I found the ideas behind this story fascinating and other than the rushed ending I thought it was an interesting read just not one of my favorites.

Posted in 3 Star Books, Books, Dystopia, General Fiction

One Response

  1. Kailana

    This book is not perfect but it definitely makes you think…

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