Ed's Reviews > When She Woke

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
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's review
Oct 04, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: 2011, 3-stars, new-author-to-me, read-on-kindle, dystopia
Read from October 04 to 12, 2011

I was excited about the premise of Hillary Jordan's When She Woke ... a futuristic, dystopian twist on The Scarlet Letter. While in the classic from Nathaniel Hawthorne it was Hester Prynne being branded with the scarlet "A" on her clothes after conceiving a child out-of-wedlock with a priest... in the Jordan's future vision it's Hannah Payne likewise being punished after an adulterous affair with a preacher... but more so, for the now illegal act of abortion which leads her to be "melachromed" -- having her skin genetically altered to turn red for the duration of her sentence.

While I breezed through the novel, I grew increasingly disappointed with the direction it took after starting off like gangbusters with whole revelation of the premise. I was expecting/wanting this to be more an examination of this darkly conservative version of a future America... which granted it is in subtext, but I felt it just devolved too much of a "damsel in distress" story crossed with a somewhat unconvincing story/journey of female empowerment. While Hannah is pretty well drawn (though at times a bit gushy and overwrought), the rest of the cast of characters just seemed too black/white, good/evil... even the ones who are supposed to be some shade of grey. And I will do my best to remain spoiler-free, but a "romantic" twist in the latter half of the book, was a bit too "jump the shark" for my taste.

Still a good and quick read, but was just left with a sense of unfulfilled potential with that premise that was so rich/ripe for exploration vs the story that was told.

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