AWAKEN by Katie Kacvinsky
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Released: 23rd May 2011
Review Format: ARC - Kindle version via Netgalley
(Many thanks to both Houghton Mifflin Books and Netgalley)
Read: November 2010
Goodreads Synopsis: Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it's to go to school or on a date, people don't venture out of their home. There's really no need. For the most part, Maddie's okay with the solitary, digital life - until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren't meant to be alone, he tells her.
Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her - a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.
In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.
My thoughts: Sounds interesting doesn't it? Well it is. This book made me think ... a lot. I really liked the characters in the book. Maddie, a teenage girl is the narrator of the story. She is bright, naive and a bit of a rebel. She meets Justin and immediately there is an attraction, on both sides, and their relationship grows slowly throughout the book. Justin introduces Maddie to his friends and she and Clare very quickly become firm friends. Clare's character was witty, fun loving, caring and very huggable. The kind of person you'd love to have as your friend.
Maddie has grown up virtually imprisoned in her own home, going to digital school on her home computer, socialising with her 'contacts' online and even going to the cinema with her 'friends' via her computer. Then Justin opens her eyes to the 'real' world. I loved reading Maddie's thoughts and feelings when she experienced for the first time the types of situations and places that we take for granted, like going to a coffee bar, a walk on the beach and walking on a real wood floor. It made me realise that we DO take these things for granted and I'm sure most of us don't appreciate them as we should.
Awaken both thrilled and scared me. It is set in 2060, just 50 years from now and hopefully in ours and our children's lifetimes. Reading this dystopian novel about how America had become a totally digitised country where even taking exercise means going for a digital walk or for a run on the treadmill with digital views of wherever you would like to be running. A world where people no longer socialise in person. A world where you can do anything you want to do at home behind your computer, including schooling. And where the government know EVERYTHING about you. Quite a few times whilst reading I found myself thinking how true this could be in 50 years. I mean look how far technology has come in the last 50 years. The story that Katie Kacvinsky has brought to life here in Awaken is a very real possibility. And that's scary!
My rating: 5 stars