Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Book Review: Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0547371489
ISBN-13: 978-0547371481
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Cover: I think the cover suits the story and is very symbolic. It's not jumping off the page for me but I like it's simplicity.
First Sentence: "My mom gave me an old leather-bound journal for my seventeenth birthday."

Mini-ReviewAn intense debut that tackles big questions and complex relationships.

Book Summary:

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.
 Book Review:

An expert blend of complex characters and the power of simple old-fashioned touch, Awaken is one stunner of a debut novel. Reader beware, this is not a girl meets boy story. Awaken sets out to tackle big issues and uses everything from its' characters to relationships to plot to make its point.

Had I set out knowing how political Awaken was going to be, I think my reaction would be a little different. I was expecting light and what I got was something a whole lot more. Maddie is one of those characters with a lot to learn. In the beginning, she was a bit stock-- had all the robotic answers, was willing to fall in line. She just felt unreal. But as she became "unplugged" she grew strong and sure of herself. She questioned things, experienced things and learned to rely on herself. By the ending of the novel, she was a pleasure to read and felt so real I could touch her.

One of my favorite things about this novel was Justin. He had a lot of issues and really made this novel complex. Maddie and his relationship felt real and layered. I liked that for as much as Maddie liked him, she couldn't read him and spent so much time trying to. As a reader, I had no idea what he was thinking most of the time and really appreciated that their relationship was rocky and refused to be tied up into a nice neat little bow.

The plotical aspect of the novel got a little heavy. Maddie had to make a lot of tough decisions and I wish she had jumped into the action a little earlier. What was nice was that I agreed with most of her reactions to the situations she was put in. Ms. Kavcinsky's writing was incredibly beautiful and vivid. The way she was able to describe simple sensations, since Maddie was experiencing so many of them for the first time, was incredible. At times, the writing was a little dense because of how much Maddie felt and noticed which did make the story drag just a little especially right around the middle.

Awaken is a thought provoking story with incredibly realistic characters fighting a future so realistic it's scary. Though it is heavily political, it does have something to say and manages to do it with an authentic voice. If political debate, fast car chases and a complex character relationships are you're thing, I recommend this incredible debut novel.


Does this sound like something you'd enjoy?


  1. I enjoyed this book, but I had issues with the beginning of Maddie & Justin's relationship. I couldn't figure out why Maddie trusted him so fast and I also thought she forgave him way too fast. I'm glad she never gave in though in regards to selling out her father. In the end, I liked the book. Great review!

    In the Closet With a Bibliophile

  2. Wow I had no idea it would have such a political aspect to it. That's not generally my cup of tea, but I'm still curious especially about Maddie.

  3. I wasn't expecting light at all from this one and I think that's part of why I liked it so much. I always find it refreshing to pick up a YA book that dosen't have insta-love as the center of attention. Great review!

  4. I have this on my wishlist, it's quite hard to find in the UK and your review makes me want to read it more.

  5. I need to read Awaken - and not just because it's on my Debut Author Challenge list. Fantastic review :)

  6. I liked how there was an important message behind Awaken. It's so true that we're becoming more and more dependent on technology, so it was interesting to see the author address that. It definitely makes Awaken sort of stand out in that regard compared to other recent dystopian novels. Great review Amber! :)

  7. Wow. This review is fantastic! I loved the political issues alluded to in this book. Justin was an amazing character, full of depth and commanded your attention. This is one of my fav YA dystopians to date. :)

  8. I have this one via NetGalley. I had a hard time getting through it. I couldn't connect. I like your honest review. I think I might try to pick it up again.


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