April 18, 2013

When We Wake by Karen Healey {Review}

Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: March 5, 2013
Source: ALA for honest review
Pages: 304
Series: When We Wake #1
Rating: Hit

My name is Tegan Oglietti, and on the last day of my first lifetime, I was so, so happy.
Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027--she's happiest when playing the guitar, she's falling in love for the first time, and she's joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice.
But on what should have been the best day of Tegan's life, she dies--and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.
Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity--even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn't all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?

I underestimated When We Wake. I'm not sure why, but sometimes I just don't expect much from a book. Sometimes it works out that I get what I expected, but then there are those times I'm pleasantly surprised which happened to be the case this time.

I really liked the way the story was told. At first I thought it was simply in first person present, but eventually it comes out that Tegan is actually doing a live webcast about everything that's happened to her. I liked when she'd break from strictly story-telling to give insight on the situation that she's since learned. I'm curious to see how this will go in book 2, though considering her cast ended at the end of When We Wake.

Tegan's kind of an angry character, understandably. This doesn't make it hard to relate to her, though. While I was reading the first few chapters I kept thinking “no, I don't want to know about her past life, because I already know she loses everybody and everything,” but it's kind of important to get a feel for her life before in order to sympathize. I liked that instead of despairing she used her anger and hurt to stand up for herself and fight, despite the many people wanting to use her.

Bethari is a fantastic character. She stands by Tegan and backs her up no matter what. She's sensible, fun, and an awesome computer hacker. I love the first scene in which her and Tegan are introduced. It's all awkward and weird for the first few minutes, but then they discover mutual interests and become more comfortable which each other. I don't know about you, but that describes pretty much all of my friend experiences.

I really liked that because Tegan wasn't up-to-date on the times I got to learn about all the future stuff right along with her; it felt more natural. I don't hate being dropped into a story and figuring things out for myself, but it can hinder my enjoyment some. Healey doesn't go overboard on the future slang either. I do think it's important for a book set in the future to have some of it's own words because language is a thing that evolves, but too much of it can weigh a book down. I think Healey added in just enough for it to feel real, but not pull me out of the story. Plus, kooshy is a really funny word.
The Nutshell: When We Wake is a well-rounded story with a little bit of action, mystery, and a main focus on Tegan's integration into future society. The characters are all pretty fleshed out and it's easy to sympathize with Tegan and her situation. If you want a book with good characters, an engaging story, and well-developed futuristic world then When We Wake is your book.

2 comments:

  1. I picked this up from the libaray on a whim and forgot what it's about. So when I went to check for a summary and some reviews, I saw that a lot of people said it gets pretty political/religious and that kind of put me off it. You don't mention either of those things (but they might not be issues for you), so would you say that they aren't big themes?

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    Replies
    1. For starters, the main character identifies as a Catholic (I believe,) but it's just a part of who she is, not a main focus. There is another religious faction, but 1) they're more like extreme environmentalists who use God as an excuse for their actions, and 2) they're kind of portrayed as a crazy cult. Religion in books doesn't usually bother me unless the characters are being all self-righteous and trying to shove it down everyone's throat.

      It is a bit political, there's military involved and she gets shot at a rally and there's loads of environmental concerns. All that being said, I'm not a fan of politics-heavy books and it really didn't bother me in When We Wake, so there's that.

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