Creative A's Reviews > Wake

Wake by Lisa McMann
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Jan 20, 09

bookshelves: contemporary-sf, didn-t-live-up-to-the-premise, favorite-covers
Recommended for: no one, unless they enjoyed "Being"
read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** This book is Lisa McMann's first, and also first in a series. The story is about is a teen girl named Janie who finds herself trapped in other's dreams; and the worse the dream is, the harder it's pull on her. She can't sleep during other's dreams and is often left exhausted.Big portions of her time are spent trying to avoid being around sleepers. Relationships are a struggle, especially since she spends most her time working or at school, and any time spent at home means cleaning up after her alcoholic mother. Then Janie falls victim to the most terrifying dream of her life. Who could dream something that terrible?

Over time, Janie begins running into a boy named Cabel who hovers for a while on the outskirts of her life. Then one night Janie goes on a overnight field-trip with her class which is a huge, huge mistake; she's mobbed by the dreams of everyone on the bus, and Cabel notices. Before passing out, Janie begs him to hide what's happening to her. For the whole weekend Cabel takes care of her between bouts of struggling through other's dreams, and resting herself. I love how Cabel is tender, here, but more on that later. After the trip Cabel very gently asks what the heck was going on with Janie. And for the first time in her life, she tells someone about her ability.

The rest of the story oscillates between the three main plots. Janie and Cabel fall in love, but then Cabel begins hanging out with a bad crowd, and Janie refuses to let him explain himself. She discovers that Cabel is the dreamer of the horrid nightmare, and she learns what it means. Janie struggles more with her abilities, manages to change one, and discovers an old lady who shared her ability and who starts teaching her how to take control of dreams. Then Cabel begins contacting Janie in her dreams, and finally gets to explain that he's part of a drug bust, which is why he's hanging with the bad crowd. Janie gets swept up in the action for a little while until the bust is over. Then she and Cabel get back together, while the old lady promises to help Janie grow in her abilities.

Okay. That's the plot, here's my criticism. First, I wanted so badly to love this story. I loved the premise. I thought the style worked pretty well, even though it was a little choppy. Cabel was so sweet sometimes, he reminded me of Clark Kent in Smallville - adoring, tender, gentle.

But none of it came together for me. Even now, I don't know what the book was about. Janie&Cabel's romance? Janie fighting her ability? Janie learning how to use it? Cabel's nightmare? The drug bust? Everything flip-flopped. One moment, Janie and Cabel had the sweetest, closest relationship I can ever remember. Then for some minor reason that didn't even make sense, Janie would go off on him, and Cabel would over-react, and they would break up. Then in a similar manner, they would be together again, poof. Also, Janie doesn't come across as very sympathetic. Most of the time she is trying to avoid other people's dreams, ignoring their pleas when she is in the dream, condemning Cabel, or getting mad at her alcoholic mother.

The plot and themes all felt recycled, which seems impossible with the dream problem, but still somehow managed to get that feel anyway. There was no motivation behind people's actions. A lot of what happened felt contrived, there just because, and the ending was like a whole new kind of story. The whole thing about the nightmare isn't even that important; it doesn't change Janie, it doesn't help her learn to control dreams, and it doesn't even impact her that much.

Again: I really wanted to love this story. I had hoped for so much based off the premise. But I was very disappointed and finished with a sour taste in my mouth. It actually reminded me a lot of the novel Being. Although my heart goes out to the author, I won't be reading Fade, and I won't be recommending Wake.

*One final thought - I have to admit this book is one you either love or hate, although haters seem to outnumber fans.




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