Kelly Roll's Reviews > When She Woke

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
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's review
Nov 23, 2011

really liked it

Set in a dystopian future America in which church and state are no longer separate a young woman chooses to have an abortion, an act which is illegal and equated with murder. Most criminals are no longer jailed however but instead have the color of their skin changed via some sort of enzyme. The color reflects their crime, reds are murderers; blues pedophiles, yellow cover a wide variety of lesser crimes and so on. Hannah our heroine is the young woman in question.
The good: First kudos to the author for retelling the Scarlet Letter in such a way that I'd now like to go back and reread the original tale, no small feat since I loathed the original reading in 6th grade. As an aside here, who thought the Scarlet letter would be appealing or appropriate for a sixth grader. I also found her dystopian society to be an interesting one and she portrayed well Hannah's earlier sheltered life as well as the gradual awakening by Hannah of what life is like outside of her narrow world.
Other readers felt that the book bashed evangelical Christianity and yet I felt that the author tried to be fair in portraying that not all of the religious characters were a negative stereotype, particularly Hannah's father and Reverend Dale, her lover. Be warned however, that there are negative stereotypes within the book which some readers may find hurtful.
The story certainly is thought provoking in terms of what is murder, how should criminals be treated, should they be treated as "less than" because of their crimes, can God still exist even if our perceptions of our religion have changed....
The less good: I think the author could have, at times, allowed the reader to draw their own conclusions instead of having Hannah tell use what we should be thinking. For example at one point Hannah tells us how she had been put into different boxes, the good girl box, the mistress box etc. It is fairly clear from the story that both we the reader and Hannah the character understand this.
I also felt that the ending was a tad weak but overall really enjoyed the story. This was another page-turner for me.

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