Friday, May 20, 2011

Review: Awaken

Debut novel from Katie Kacinsky.
E Galley from netgalley
4/5 stars

If, like me, you have walked into a coffee house and witnessed four people sitting together but not actually speaking to one another just staring at their cellphones, well then you know where this novel is going. In a world in which we upload videos to smaller screens so that kids can watch movies while we shop or drive, instead of you know....talking to to our kids, well then you know where this novel is going.

In Madeline's world, everything is done online. School, work, exercise, dating, etc. Crime is down, but no one remembers how to live. Que the rebel with a cause, Justin, who just might shake Maddie's world up if she decides to "awaken" to reality.

There are some really great scenes in this book. The relationship between Maddie and Justin takes a nice, reasonable time to develop. Maddie's world may come crashing down, but a new one is waiting there for her and it has been there the entire time: Reality.

I could not help compare this to Brave New World and 1984. This is a nicer version of those scary stories. In Awaken, the cops use stun guns, and people who rebel are exiled or, if they are kids, sent to institutions for fresh brainwashing. No one is ever really in danger here.

Some of the future technology is so cool, you almost can't understand why they are rebelling! Seriously, ceilings you can digitally paint on! Digital School you can attend in your pajamas (wait! I do that now in Library School). Zipcars that get you wherever you want. I'd almost sign up if it didn't mean trading in my soul.

This hits the shelves on May 23, and I think it's a great Spring Read. Just watching Maddie fall in love with nature made me want to go outside and see it again for myself. Of course, I would bring this book and a blanket, and a Justin.

I want my Teen Book Club to read this. I think there is a lot of room for deep discussions about compromises security over privacy, government mandate vs individual morals, etc. There is a warning hidden in this book and today's teens would benefit from hearing this version of a possible future.
A disclaimer, this book was made available to me from netgalley. Thank you kindly.