Goodreads Summary: 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.
My Rating: 4 hearts
Thoughts on the Novel: The last time I read a dystopian novel was back in sixth grade, and my only experience with the genre made me not like it (probably because I was forced to read the book and didn't bother to give it a fair chance). So, with the abundance of dystopian novels hitting the YA market, it was only a matter of time before I read another one. Little did I know that it would be Katie Kacvinsky's Awaken, a very good start towards building positive feelings for the genre.
What I really liked about Awaken – barring flying cars or ones that can travel underwater – was that Kacvinsky’s vision of the future was pretty realistic. In 2060, most things can be done digitally and so there’s no need to go out for school, work, etc. We’re already starting to see the beginnings of these possibilities with online schools and social networking sites, and so it isn’t hard to imagine that face to face interactions could become rare in the future, especially if free online schooling becomes mandatory for students. I know most of the friends that I see on a regular basis are those that I’ve met through school.
Maddie was a pretty good narrator as well and I liked that she was willing to question the way things were. However, for someone as smart as she was, I felt that she was way too trusting of Justin early on, particularly given who she is and her past. I mean, who is so eager to introduce you to their friends if they’re going to be leaving town soon?
Speaking of Justin, I thought he was an interesting character but I didn’t really like him as a romantic interest because I felt that he was trying to get close to Maddie for her connections. Even later when I knew that Justin liked Maddie, I felt that his feelings for her were muddled up with the advantage Maddie presented to him and his side. Their relationship was a little frustrating to read with Maddie wanting Justin whereas he kept saying that he wasn’t good enough for her and his job would always come first to him.
The other complaint I had reading Awaken was that there were a bunch of grammatical errors. It was an ARC though so those mistakes will obviously be fixed before publication.
A solid debut by Kacvinsky, Awaken will be released on May 23, 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Comments About the Cover: The cover is really creative and I like that the flowers are captured perfectly in a jar because the plants that Maddie sees daily are not real but synthetic. As well, the colours that are used give a nostalgic feel, which goes really well with the story of trying to elicit a change in society back towards the good old days of face to face communication.
In exchange for an honest review, this ARC was received from the publisher (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) for free via NetGalley.