When We Wake - YA Review by AJ G

Reader: AJ G
Age: 17
Title: When We Wake
Author:  Karen Healey
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Pub Date: 03/05/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: It's no secret that I'm not a fan of killing the main character as a plot device. I can get behind it if it's done well, but unfortunately for this book, I'm not sure it was. The premise hinges on Tegan, the protagonist, being accidentally murdered, cryonically frozen for a hundred years, and then revived. It's obvious that this is just done to allow the reader to feel the same culture "shock" of someone stepping into their own future. However, all these social changes are down played to the point of insignificance, which is fairly irritating. I would have loved to learn more about what the world will be like socially in 2127, other than the fact that apparently every female character has to be a lesbian because that's socially acceptable. However, what I think I found more irritating than that was that this girl is given the opportunity to expose some pretty huge, largely ignored issues to a vast number of people, and is running for her life for a large part of the story, but she stills gets all caught up in a boy! It's so completely unnecessary, and really quite unrealistic. I could tolerate the weak story line but the romance aspect is just a little unforgivable.
Memorable or Forgettable:  I think it was just the weak plot that made this a fairly forgettable book. How many times have we seen a mini-activist, fighting desperately against an elaborate government scheme, in a wild attempt to save humanity? Too many, in my opinion. Sure, it's a novelty that it's set in the future, but this version of the future isn't much different than the present. The only major thing is that global warming is a lot worse. I'd have much preferred an actually changed future, like one with no countries or where we live underwater. Then it could have been memorable. As it was though, it was just sort of like "oh look, a preachy teen trying to save us from the government, and by the way it's super hot outside."
Cover: The cover is certainly striking, and it makes sense to some extent. I really love the white on white color scheme. But I think it could have done a better job conveying the story. While cryonic freezing is certainly a major element, it's not really a fully developed one until very near the end of the book. But I think that it's a fairly good cover all the same, and one that can draw attention to itself.
Age Range: 12 through 17
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal

tags:  science fiction / dystopian / cryogenics / BFYA nominee / ya lit

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