Sunday, December 18, 2016

Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

Title: Awaken
Author: Katie Kacvinsky
Published by: HMH Books for Young Readers (2011)

My Rating: ★★★☆☆

SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS

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 REVIEW

Quite an interesting premise and I suppose unique in its own way, Awaken was a definitely intriguing storyline. However, I did have quite a few things I disliked.

I’ll begin with positives: I thought some of the themes had quite an uplifting feel to them at first, themes about love and taking care of those close to you. I liked Maddie and I loved the element of a society attached to technology and the strong messages it conveyed about such tech. I thought that aspect was done very skillfully. 

However, putting the unique storyworld aside, everything else was incredibly stereotypical, which was very disappointing.
The romance was disheartening in the sense that the first two-thirds of the book I was very impressed by the lack of kissing or otherwise physical romantic actions—that is to say, I was very impressed by the cleanliness—but that all fell flat because the last third of the book is compromised of ninety-five percent romance. While there isn’t anything necessarily super inappropriate, it does get intense and was not on the very purest track in the long run. I’m not planning on reading future books simply because of the sure-to-be increase of romantic activity. I also got very tired of Justin very fast. I get how he’s supposed to be, but that character is just so overdone. So is Maddie’s, but she had a little more originality than the other characterless YA leads. Still, she was incredibly stereotypical. Let’s apply my tried-and-true description. (I wrote this to describe another character in another YA dystopian series a year or so ago, and since then I have applied it to other YA series and found it just as accurate despite the fact it’s a different author and series. I call it the YA Main Character Stereotype.)

She’s strong and determined, but of course has her fears—that she hides—that set her back. She’s part of the lowly county. She doesn’t think much about higher counties; she just keeps her head down, lives her life, and tries not to get noticed. She thinks of herself as lowly and ugly. She’s stubborn and willfull, but thinks she knows right from wrong. She’s often chastised for misbehavior and is warned that someday it’ll get back to her. Often she sneaks off to be in private because the world becomes too much. She doesn’t have any plans of rebelling—that would be ridiculous, they would totally get her for it! She refuses to believe any legends or rumors She doesn’t let herself hope, because hope will get you nowhere. 

Obviously, Maddie excludes quite a few of these stereotypes, but she still does fit into many.


As a whole, the plotline was rather predictable, and was drawn out in other parts. I don’t have much else to say about it. Unique storyworld, stereotypical characters, edging-on-inapropriate romance, and predictable plot, this pretty much fits right in with every other YA dystopian. But nevertheless, I did finish it, so that says something. 3.0 stars.

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