Christa Seeley's Reviews > When We Wake

When We Wake by Karen Healey
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May 04, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2013, genre-science-fiction
Read from April 10 to 11, 2013

This review originally posted at More Than Just Magic

When We Wake was a book I was excited for. I mean cryogenetics? Waking up 100 years in the future? A secret government conspiracy? What’s not to like? What I didn’t expect was that it would an incredibly thought provoking and fascinating read that I am still thinking about days later.

The most striking thing about When We Wake is that is holds a pretty realistic vision of the future. This isn’t a dystopian novel where everything seems to have fallen apart. Instead you are presented with all the ways society has improved – our computers are better, Islamaphobia and homophobia have turned into relics of the past, meat is no longer consumed at the same ridiculous rate, we’ve taken steps, like humanure, to improve the environment. Like Tegan I was pretty excited to see that so many things had changed for the better. And Karen Healey backs up this vision of the future by surrounding Tegan with a cast of racially and sexually diverse characters.

However, the future is no utopia either. Over population is still a concern. There is some pretty extreme discrimination against third world countries and refugees are shoved into camps with horrible conditions at the Australian border. The future it seems is just as disappointing as it is miraculous. Which is kind of what it’s like today. We presently make great advances in science, technology and policy, but there are always negatives as well – school shootings, terrorist attacks etc. There’s this really moving moment in When We Wake where Tegan says “”I wanted you to be better. You should be better.” And it’s true. 100 years from now we should be better. But I liked that Karen Healey provided us with the same sort of “give and take” society as we have now – just amped up a couple notches. Because in all honestly that’s the most likely scenario.

I also really liked the way Karen Healey made use of the group the “Inheritors of the Earth.” A group with religious origins they argue for a return to the traditional ways. I liked that she used this group as a representation of the ways religion can get a little…extreme. But she also didn’t present them as evil per say, and took the time to note that groups like this have often twisted the original teachings of the faith they originated from. They shouldn’t be seen as universal representatives. (For example when people think creationists = all Christians. So annoying).

It helps of course that at the heart of this story was an extremely likable narrator. Tegan is interesting, she’s independent, she loves the Beatles and she’s a fish out of water. She’s as new to this future as you are as the reader. Which means you can learn along with her, rather than having to read long explanations to set the scene. And I loved the breaks in the main narrative where Tegan is talking directly to you – her reader/viewer. It made When We Wake a much more personal read giving it a stronger impact.

This is the beginning of a series and I am excited to see what’s next for Tegan. But I also kind of liked the ending the way it is. It’s so open ended and allows for so much discussion about many important issues.

Recommendation: When We Wake is a really smart book. It addresses so many interesting issues like the ethics of cryogenics, responsibility to other nations, expectations on our government to tell us the truth and so many more. It’s exciting and interesting and filled with Beatles references. Highly recommended for science fiction fans and those who love to discuss the books they read.
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04/10/2013 page 101
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