Saturday, January 15, 2011

Review: Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

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.


  1. So you haven't read The Hunger Games yet? **gobsmacked face** "The last time I read a dystopian novel was back in sixth grade..."

  2. This is only the second review I've seen for this, and yours was really comprehensive and thoughtful! A totally digital future does seem like a possibility, doesn't it? I'm intrigued by a book that would make you change your opinion about dystopians (at least give it a chance anyway), even if there were some characterization issues. I might have to give this one a try!

  3. Great review. I liked how you told the negative sides of this book too, like the parts about Justin. I've read some more reviews for this book, and it sounds interesting so I'll probably have to read it at some point.

  4. I seriously have the biggest thing for dystopian novels, and I really need to request this from book list is just so long right now! Awesome honest review :)

  5. I really liked this book. At first I was a bit skeptical because I thought she trusted Justin way too fast. It was odd to me. Still, in the end I really cared for the characters and enjoyed the plot. I wish they would have went into Maddie's knowledge on things more and how smart she actually was, would have been cool if she was like a super hacker yah know?! Great review!

    In the Closet With a Bibliophile

  6. I am a fan of dystopia novel so I can't wait to read Awaken. The romance however does sound annoying. I like to be able to see the connection between two characters. Great review :)

  7. Does that mean you haven't read The Hunger Games yet?
    I love dystopians. Very rarely am I disappointed, I have to admit. So I'd imagine I'm going to like this one, as well. Must request this on netgalley.

  8. Nice review Zahida, I'm interested in this one because, like you said, this version of the future seems so plausible with everything going digital. I like that Maddie is a good narrator and you've piqued my interest by mentioning her past, now I want to know all about her:)

  9. great review. I already had it on my TBR list, but I've moved it up on the list now. :) I'll be interested to hear what you think about other dystopias you read. I only recently started reading dystopias as well, with The Hunger Games being my first in a while. Excited to get ahold of this one. Thanks again for the review!

  10. I adore this book something fierce! We definitely had different feelings about some aspect of the book, and I found it very interesting to read your perspective!


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