Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Book Review: When We Wake, by Karen Healey @kehealey

When We Wake has an interesting premise, and is somewhat horrific. Imagine waking up after being frozen for 100 years! Healey has managed to realistically portray the feelings and frustrations of this scenario.

It is 2027, and Tegan is so happy to finally have an official date with the best friend that she has been crushing on, even if it is just to attend a protest march. But, she never really gets to experience the actual date because she is shot and killed. The next thing we know, Tegan is waking up and it's 100 years later.

Both of these futures (2027 and 100 years later) are messed up. Global warming has had huge impacts on the environment and the way people live. When We Wake takes place in Australia, but this could happen anywhere.

Tegan is narrating the story--giving us her soul, as she puts it. As we jump back to her narration in the present, we realize that she is in more and more danger. And, as we read the story she is telling, the dangers are slowly revealed.  The way When We Wake  is told is very effective in building tension, sympathy for the characters, and compelling us to turn the pages.

There's the nice doctor that tries to help Tegan, who longs for freedom. Then there's the awful army colonel who wants to keep Tegan tied down and protected. After all the army paid for all of this. The question is, "Why?"

I didn't find the "why" mattered so much. The part that drove my interest is Tegan's and her soon-to-be romantic interest, Abdi's, need to be free and figure out what is so corrupt and wrong about this civilization. There's discrimination, border controls, religious fanaticism, terrorism, and government corruption. Tegan had hoped the future would be better, but she soon realizes all is not as perfect as it is supposed to seem.

Tegan is an interesting character. She's already tough in 2027, exploring with her friends, picking locks, free-running across buildings, and taking risks. This benefits her greatly in the future.  We don't get the usual "wimp becomes tough" scenario. Tegan is well equipped.

There are some twists and surprised in When We Wake, but the ending is fairly open to interpretation. And, for a book that will garner so much discussion, that's not a bad thing.

Teens who are fans of dystopian stories, or even contemporary fans could be pointed to When We Wake. It is a well-done, unique story that is hard to stop thinking about.

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, March 5, 2013
ARC obtained from Library Media Connection Magazine for review.
298 pages

Rating: 4/5

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  1. I like that the ending was open to interpretation. I find these are the best books to use your own imagination and as you said make for great discussions.

  2. I've seen a lot of books by Healey but haven't picked any of them up. I love how each book is completely different. The premise of this book sounds very intriguing. I'll have to look/check this one out.

    p.s. I'm reading "Unbroken" too and really enjoying it. I hope you are too!


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