Author: Katie Kacvinsky
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children;
First Edition edition (May 23, 2011)
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.
I sincerely enjoyed Awaken because while the romance was a bit predictable, the originality of the plot was entertaining enough to keep me reading.
Cons: It is a short read that could have had a more fulfilling ending and the uneven pacing left me a little disoriented when the main character went from running away from the authorities to walks on the beach. The pacing resembled an erratic heart beat with multiple roller coaster dives and inclines that were, to say the least, a bit dizzying. Sadly, while reading the book, I tended to shift toward the negative aspects more than the positive. There were too many elements that I couldn't overlook because of their frequency. One thing that was constantly annoying me was the preaching. It is made clear throughout the novel that the main character, Madeline, is intelligent academically and has a knack for technology. A very useful capability in her world. However, this was negated by the fact that she was being preached at every other page by Justin, the love interest and quasi leader of the rebels against Digital School. It really made Madeline look stupid and naive whenever Justin explained things to her. I can understand that she was inexperienced in many things due to her "grounding" but there's a huge difference between teaching someone things normally foreign to them and treating them like an invalid. That was exceptionally annoying. In addition to that, there were many moral cliches being thrown around in the book plus a repetition of previously stated concepts or opinions.
Pros: I know you're probably wondering why I gave Awaken a C instead of an F, and I have to admit that it has to do with the story line and the future the author created that was detailed and realistically relatable. I also admired Maddie's character for being as daring as she was to go against her own father for what she believed was right for her country. She had the drive and tenacity to support a rebellion even after seeing the effects it had on her family and especially to the relationship between her and her father. She also admitted to herself that she was in love with Justin because he was her savior in a sense that he was reintroducing the outside world to her in a whole new light. And for all of Justin's condescending flaws I can at least say that he was a decent person and was generous with his time to gradually transform America back to a nation whose citizens were motivated, independent and uniquely amazing.
As for whether or not I'm going to attempt the sequel, Middle Ground, I don't think I'm going to run out for a copy any time soon. Because even though I found the story rich and thorough, it doesn't make up for what I found lacking in Awaken.