A girl wakes up in a strange bed, in a strange house, in a strange place. She doesn't even know what her own name is. She's lost everything. She screams, faints, and wakes up in a hospital with a person who claims to be her mother. Her mother calls her "Ava." Ava is told she has lost her memory, but the doctors don't know why. Ava thinks she doesn't even belong here.
She starts having dreams, which don't seem like dreams as much as memories. These visions are of herself and her "friends" in a different place, a different life. Many of the people she meets in this new life also exist in the other life. But they are very different, and that life is very different. Very harsh.
Ava begins to remember that she was a spy -- she was spying on someone named Morgan, and they end up in a forbidden relationship. Morgan appears to her in this new life, but he's not really supposed to be there. As you can probably see, there are lots of reasons to say, "What the heck?"
As I Wake kept my interest, mostly because I wanted to figure out what was going on. It was easy to read, and pretty fast-paced. I liked the way Ava analyzed the differences between the people in her old life and new life. She knew a lot about what was "inside" these supposed friends in her new life, because of the way they behaved in the other life. As I Wake did spark some emotions as I was reading. Along with frustration, there was a bit of horror at the conditions of the "other life" although this life is only vaguely alluded to in Ava's visions, so this didn't have as much impact as it could have. And, there is some sadness at the forbidden love aspect.
So, what is that other life? I don't know. That was never explained. I wanted to know more As I Wake is written like a science fiction, but there really isn't any science -- no explanation. There is a romance between Morgan and Ava that is kind of heartbreaking, but what happens at the end doesn't make sense. We were told this "something" isn't possible, and then it happens at the end of the book.
I was pretty confused through the entire book, and then I still felt mostly confused, or maybe I should say unfulfilled, at the end. I can say that As I Wake kept my interest, and I never wanted to stop reading. But after finishing, I was disappointed.
As I Wake wouldn't be the first book I'd recommend to my teens, although there are some I could hand pick that might like it. It's just a hard book to peg -- not really science fiction, fantasy, or horror - although VOYA put it on its "Best of 2010" list for those genres.
Published by Dutton Juvenile, 2011
Copy obtained from the library
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