Saturday, October 19, 2013

Book Review: When We Wake

Took me a bit longer than I would have liked to get to this book, considering how big a fan I am of Healey's other works, but I got to it within the year which is an improvement for me! That said I was a little nervous about it, it's a completely different genre from her other books and my track record with YA science fiction is surprisingly spotty (occasionally I find books I've already read in the library and can't help but shudder and move on) but thankfully this was one of the better books.

When We Wake by Karen Healey

Summary: In the near future Tegan was an average Australian teen with family and friends she loved. And then she wakes up, horrified to find out that she was killed in a botched assassination attempt and, thanks to the forms she had signed donating her body to science, has now become the first person to be successfully woken up after 100 years of being frozen. And the world has changed in a lot of ways in 100 years but one thing that hasn't is that games of politics are still played and it seems like everyone wants Tegan on their side for less than savory reasons.

The Good: THIS is why I say that dystopias are an easy, lazy way of setting up a plot most of the time, while Tegan's new world can't precisely be called a dystopia (it doesn't have the all controlling government aspect) it is an even more deeply flawed and twisted world which makes it all the more realistic. So yes I am celebrating that this is a horribly depressing book, often when I read I think "so what point in this story would I want to live in, the beginning, middle, or end?" and here I wouldn't want to live in either of Tegan's presents, especially because of how horrifyingly real some of the things talked about (rising temperatures, first world countries dumping their pollution and garbage on third world countries and then blaming them for not having the resources to deal with it, etc). Moving on from that, I was happy to see that Tegan manages to have a best friend in here who is a girl and their not fighting over a romantic interest (I'm sad how rarely this seems to happen in fiction these days) and that ended up being my favorite relationship of the story (second to Tegan's relationship with the scientist who revived her). And that also sums up the world she woke up in, while it might be crap the social issues that plague us today have gone a long way towards being resolved and she sees this as the one bright hope in this brave new world of hers.

The Bad: While the ending is a bit ambiguous I was alright with that but I've now heard that Healey is working on a companion novel which retells the story from the point of view of one of the other main characters and I'm suspicious of it. Will this add anything new to the story or continue on past where this one ended? Which would indicate something was missing in the first place and, well, I rather like the ambiguous ending so I'm a bit worried at how this book plans to end. Strictly speaking this isn't a problem with WWW but I've known a few series, mostly anime, where a sequel has completely messed up the ending of the previous installment so I'm twice burned extra shy now. Other than that, some groups did come off as rather flat and it's a bit hard to believe that there seems to be so little activism/people weren't able to prevent what happened to the world (since there truly is some amazing technology in the works right now to prevent the world from becoming an overheated and polluted wasteland) but I'm a bit of an optimist so I'm supposed to question whenever someone creates a story with a bleak world and apathetic people.

So I give this book 4 out of 5 stars for being heart-breaking in a good way and something which caused me to need a lot of chocolate and cute fluffy things to read when I was done, that seems to be the trend with the 2013 books I've read this year (looking at you The Summer Prince). 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Helen,

    While We Run is only a companion novel in that it's told by one of Tegan's "companions" - it's a sequel, starting six months after the events of When We Wake, told by Abdi.

    Thanks for the thoughtful review!