Missie's Reviews > Awaken

Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
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's review
Mar 16, 11

bookshelves: contemporary, ya
Read in March, 2011

Initially, I was very excited to read Awaken, but I have to admit, I found the overall story rather boring. I get that maybe that was the point. When you live in a digital world, practically isolated from the outside world with limited social interaction, how could you not be bored? But reading about what was easy to guess at just felt a bit unnecessary.

Once a rebellious teen, Maddie has now conformed to her virtual life by attending Digital School and obeying her father's rules. But that all changes when she meets Justin, a rebel leader who plans to strike out against Digital School. Together they decide to take a chance on living an unplugged life and on love.

I guess my main problem was I didn't connect with the characters. They seemed so bland. This is something I struggled with because again, I got the sense that it was done intentionally by the author to showcase what becoming too dependent on technology can do to people. Still, I don't think it really highlighted anything significant in the story, character or plot wise. Also, it came off as kind of preachy, the message being if you live in a virtual world, then you are not really living, and it's only going to get worse.

Of course the story takes place in 2060, so I can imagine that the world's dependency on technology and spiffy gadgets only increases, and Maddie's life seemed believable and probably likely in the near future.

Maddie's father, the founder of Digital School, created it to keep people safe. Justin and the people who support him see technology as a necessary evil, and fight to give communities the choice between living behind a computer screen or interacting face to face. What I found interesting was that I could see the pros and cons to both sides and I could develop arguments for each.

Whether it was intended or not, the narrative felt disjointed and awkward, and didn't make for an exciting read. Even the conversations between Maddie and Justin that were meant to be intimate seemed cold and unemotional. By their third meeting, Maddie was already proclaiming that Justin was the love her her life, that she couldn't think straight when he was around, which (again) made sense in a way since she was so isolated and Justin was the first boy she ever felt attracted too, but it also made her seem so naive and it induced a lot of eye rolling on my part.

Of course Justin and Maddie played the cat and mouse game of him denying his feelings for her, telling her they couldn't be involved because of his dangerous lifestyle and her being stubborn and refusing to let him refuse her. I guess I'm judging harshly because 1.) I'm so over this cliché, especially that part that has him never noticing a girl before her, and has her thinking of herself as unattractive despite a lot of guys fawning over her, and 2.) because I want the romantic interest to give me same sensation as they do the girl in the story, butterflies in the stomach and all of that. I believe that Maddie tried to get me to feel the same way she did because she spent a lot of time describing the effect Justin had on her, but I just didn't get that vibe off of him. Which again made sense since he is the type that closes himself off from people because, as he told Maddie many times, his job comes first and always will. Still, I can't help feeling disappointed when the romantic interest doesn't make me swoon.

Plus, I didn't like the fact that he repeatedly tricked Maddie, or at least that was my take. He didn't give her the option to choose to break her probation. He forced her into it. And though he said he'd answer any of her questions and be honest with her, I didn't see it. I felt Maddie accepted his lack of answers because she was too caught up in his good looks, which was frustrating. I think at one point, when she was running from the law, she was more worried about Justin and what he was thinking or doing, than about being separated from her family. It was weird, and I had to keep reminding myself to give her a break since she was in love for the first time.

I keep thinking myself a fan of dystopian, but lately everything I've read in the genre has disappointed me. I don't know exactly what I'm looking for, but it seems like The Hunger Games has ruined me. I guess it is easier to excuse the abandonment of rational thought when you are fighting for your life, but Maddie's fight against 'the system' just didn't evoke the same kind of energy or thrill. I guess to me it's the clearest indication on which side I'll be on in the not to distant future of Maddie's world. LOL!

The story ends satisfactory enough, with an obvious indication that there is more to come, but I don't think I will continue with the series because I feel like I've already predicted the outcome. And though it was not my cup of fiction, if you read Awaken, I hope you enjoy it better.


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