Sunday, November 21, 2010

Book Review: Gone by Lisa McMann

Wake (Dream Catcher #1) by Lisa McMann

Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 224
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1416974475
Source: Books-A-Million
Cover: It's alright. It looks good with the other covers and after reading the novel, I don't have a better one in mind but it was never something that jumped off the shelf. I like the glowing quality to the letters.
Signature: "Amber, Don't dream & drive"
First Sentence: "Janie Hannangan's math book slips from her fingers."

The Mini-Review: A quick enjoyable ride, Wake will have you staying up to figure out how to make Janie sleep!

The Book Summary:

For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people's dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie's seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.
She can't tell anybody about what she does--they'd never believe her, or worse, they'd think she's a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn't want and can't control.
Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else's twisted psyche. She is a participant...

The Review:

Picking up the 200+ page book, I wasn't expecting too much between the pages. After all, how well can you tell a story with so few words? Turns out, you can tell a story very well with fewer words. Wake isn't necessarily spectacular for its plot or its character (though both of these things are good too) but rather how it is written. It takes so many "rules" of literature and throws them out the window. McMann wanted to write a book the way she saw fit and din't let anything stop her from telling a raw, gritty story of a girl with a truly interesting problem.

We are thrust directly into a dream in the beginning of the novel, much like how Janie is every time someone sleeps, and are shown firsthand how invasive this is not just for the dreamer but for the dreamer invader. We see that not even Janie's body or sleep belongs to her and this is sad because we find out rather quickly that not much else belongs to her either.

Janie is poor and not in the "my mom can't afford to get me designer clothes to match the other girls in school" sort of way. She's poor in the "I wonder if I can feed myself" sort of way. Not only is this rare in YA, but it's super tricky to pull off believably and without it feeling like a gimmick. I believed in Janie's struggle. That's what made this novel gritty. We were really living this life with Janie. She works for her money and is putting every last ounce of energy she has into trying to get herself out of her situation. So I liked Janie as a character. She was an active participant in her life. Rather than playing the victim about her "dream walking" (my own terminology) she gets proactive and uses it to her advantage.

The only thing I really didn't like about Janie is her inability to face one problem head on-- Cabel. I get that she was hearing a lot of crap about him but anytime we go close to figuring out what was really going on (and he tried many, many times) Janie decides magically that she just doesn't want to hear it and marches out. As a reader this was frustrating. I'd have rather Cabel told us miserably that he couldn't share a lot of things than get an almost answer and have Janie choose not to listen. It was especially frustrating because she faced down everything else like a champ.

I was very surprised at the language in this novel. Explicit language doesn't offend me but I was excepting to find it here. At first, I was kind of annoyed because I wasn't sure why it was there. Then I realized that it was thereto tell me something. It was telling me the type of characters Janie and her friends are. It told me something about their characters and after that, it didn't bother me at all.

I had no idea where this novel was going. It was told in such quick little pieces that the puzzle was lost on me until it was almost over. I'm really interested to see where the next installment of this series takes me.

The writing is where this novel pulls away from the rest. Told in short snippets, hopping around from one point in Janie's life to the another and only highlighting important things, the writing was lyrical and scanty and beautiful for both of those reasons. Once McMann decided you saw what you needed to from one scene, it was over and we were onto the next. It made this already brief novel fly by. The only downside to this type of writing style was sometimes I got lost or felt like I missed something. I also felt disconnected from the character's a bit. Sometimes someone would say something like "it's raining" and the other would say "what do you mean you love me?" and I'd be scrambling to figure out when we stopped talking about the rain and started making confessions about love. This isn't a deal breaker and didn't happen to often but it's just something that pulled me out of the story a bit and worth mentioning.

Wake is something completely its own and shines for this fact. Filled with unforgettable characters and writing so quick and sparse its beautiful in the way nature is, Wake is definitely worth a read.



  1. I LOVE this series!! Fade is even better!! Great review!

  2. Janie sounds like an interesting and strong heroine, the kind I like to read about.

  3. Great review, Amber! Is it crazy that I've yet to read this book? It really sounds very good :)

  4. Stopping by from Jami's CEP.

    It took me a while to get used to the way the book was written, it's definitely different. I have to agree with you about Janie as well. I liked Fade a bit better than Wake, I still haven't read Gone. Looking forward to seeing what you think if you read them.

  5. I like this review (and your review format). Might have to check this one out, especially after what you said about the writing style.

  6. Students love this book, both boys and girls.


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