Book/Author: Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
Published: May 2011, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Where I got it: received as an e-book from NetGalley
Why I read this: I liked the cover and thought it sounded interesting
Rating: 3.5 stars
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 thoughts: I began reading Awaken back in the early spring but because I'm a butthead sometimes, my NetGalley copy expired before I could finish. Then it took me a few months to get a copy to finish reading it. Once I was able to pick it back up, I was mad at myself for not getting my hands on it earlier. Maddie's world was so interesting! She is pretty much the first daughter of the new education system. In the year 2060, the world is almost entirely computerized. Want to hang out with your friends? Hop on the internet and virtual chat with everyone in a coffee shop setting. Even exercising is computerized. Having a father who is the head of digital school put a lot of pressure on Maddie to follow the rules. When we find out that she had something to do with a huge security breach years ago, it's easy to see that she doesn't necessarily believe in what her family is responsible for.
Awaken is about much more than just teenage rebellion. It's about standing up for what you believe in despite how much it might effect your life as you know it. Maddie chooses her beliefs over her family, which is something that only the strongest willed person would be able to do. However, the story was almost too unbelievable for me. I have been on this earth for almost 26 years now and I don't feel like the world has changed too drastically. It's very hard for me to believe that a world would be so different in my lifetime. I enjoy technology as much as the next nerd, but I could not wrap my head around how life could change so much in 50 years. The people in Maddie's world were so connected in the digital sense, but I couldn't help thinking it was more like they were disconnected. They were giving up real human interaction. It just seems so lonely to me and I was glad that Maddie was able to recognize that she was unhappy with that way of life.
Sadly, I was disappointed in Justin's character as her love interest. I felt that it was unfair of him to ask her to betray her family and expect her to do what she ultimately ended up doing by choosing his side. He seemed like a total toolbag and I just couldn't understand why Maddie was attracted to him, other than for his mysterious ways.
I don't usually talk about covers, but I will admit that I am one of those people that judges a book by its cover. This cover is what initially attracted me but I was glad to discover that the story was worthy of such an awesome cover. While there were certain things that I didn't like about Awaken, I enjoyed the concept and reading about a character who was able to fight for what she believed in despite being in such a tough situation.