Author: Katie Kacvinsky
Release Date: May 11, 2011 (hardcover)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Source: ARC received for review from Casey (The Bookish Type) and Danya (A Tapestry of Words) as part of "A Cornucopia of Dystopia!"
Overall: 4 Stars
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.
Katie Kacvinsky makes a wonderful entrance to the YA writing scene with her debut novel Awaken. Although the novel is dystopian, the events and principles it covers really don't seem so far-fetched as one might expect. And maybe that's the most scary aspect of this aspect, knowing our own futures are leading towards a more virtual life as we grow more and more dependent on technology... but at what consequences? It was these sorts of questions that left me fascinated to learn more about Awaken as I flipped the pages...
It's the year 2060 and much of America is completely digital with people rarely venturing outside anymore when they can simply accomplish anything they want online from the comforts of their own home. For Maddie, her life is strictly controlled by her influential father, a man who founded Digital School, the school system used nationwide to educate youths. Maddie seems satisfied with this constant virtual life, but when she meets Justin, a boy who convinces her to meet him in the real world, she begins to question everything she's ever known. Rebelling thoughts she had pushed to the back of her mind when she was younger begin to resurface and soon, Maddie's not sure if a completely digital life is so right anymore...
Besides having a great premise, my only qualms with the novel related to the characters themselves as they fell a little bit flat. Both Maddie and Justin don't come across as very strong characters initially but after awhile, I was glad to finally see some signs of growth in them. I wasn't very impressed with how Maddie practically fell in love with Justin and his good looks as soon as she met him, but what I did like was how she slowly grew confidence in herself to act on things she believed in and to pull away from her father's influence. I know I've only mentioned Maddie's father up to this point, but honestly, the only thing I really have to say about her mother is that her personality is completely different compared to the father and that she should grow a spine instead of remaining on the sidelines.
But anyways, let's move onto Justin... shall we? Even though Maddie was soon falling for him, when he made his appearance in the novel, I couldn't shake this wariness I had. He's a little older than Maddie and he tries to keep rather distant, but there was always this feeling like he had another agenda in mind. I won't say anything else on the subject now except that it took awhile for me to finally come to his side and when I did, a part of me fell for him too.
In the ever increasing online life we are all beginning to lead, Katie Kacvinsky's novel delivers a message... or really a warning if you will of our increasingly online society and how it is shaping us. Just like Maddie, you'll be left questioning yourself, and weighing the pros and cons of such an active online persona. Add on top a novel that has themes regarding coming into your own as a teenager and first love... and I think Awaken is a novel that many will enjoy.
And for those who are still a bit iffy about the dystopian genre, think of Awaken as more of a futuristic YA fiction novel than anything else. For while the society in the novel definitely has its faults... when you think about, is it really so far off than the way ours seems to be heading towards?
Tomorrow, I'll be posting my author interview with Katie Kacvinsky so be on the lookout for it!
So now it's time for the giveaway! As part of "A Cornucopia of Dystopia!" I will be giving away the ARC of Awaken currently in my possession to one lucky person! This giveaway will be INTERNATIONAL and while you don't have to be a follower to enter, the gesture would be appreciated. Your last day to enter the contest is APRIL 18, 2011, which is the final day of the event. I'll choose a winner using a random number generator and email them for their mailing address, after which point, they'll have 48 hours give or take to respond back.
And yes, you'll get an extra entry just for commenting on this post! Good luck!
-GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED-
-> Winner has been announced! <-
-> Winner has been announced! <-