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When We Wake Hardcover – March 5, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Tegan was just 16 when she died-well, sort of. After being shot at a protest in Sydney in 2027, she awakes in the future in a government facility where she's been preserved and frozen for 100 years. Being the first successfully revived human in Australia means that Tegan is an instant celebrity in a world that is much different from the one that she knows. As she struggles to build a life for herself with some sense of normalcy, she learns that not all citizens are excited about the scientific advancement that brought her back to life, and that the government that saved her might not have the best intentions. When We Wake kicks off with a great premise that's an easy sell to teens in this age of dystopian fiction. Tegan is a relatable character placed in a future that, while advanced, is creepily easy to envision. The story drags a bit in the middle, leaving time for readers to figure out some "secrets" before the main character does. Overall, this is a solid addition to the books that engross teens and have them wondering what's to stop this future from becoming our own.-Emily Chornomaz, Camden County Library System, NJα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Just when 16-year-old Tegan finally has a hot date with Dalmar in her futuristic world of 2027, a sniper accidentally shoots and kills her. A century later, Tegan, the first successful cryogenic revival, awakens to discover a changed society: more tolerance toward same-sex relationships, a government that strongly enforces migrant policy, and an overpopulated planet on the brink of environmental collapse. In Tegan’s conversational, first-person narration, it quickly becomes clear that she’s on the run, divulging government secrets blog-style along the way. Healey doesn’t enter much new territory here, but Tegan’s nonstop adventures—evading paparazzi as the “Living Dead Girl,” learning the government’s real motivation for unfreezing her, and determining the reason behind a religious fundamentalist sect’s mission against her—will keep both sci-fi and dystopian readers entertained. A host of multicultural characters, including a Somali love interest, add depth, while chapter headings taken from Beatles lyrics underscore Tegan’s musical interest. Pair with Beth Revis’ Across the Universe (2011) for another look at cryogenics in action. Grades 8-11. --Angela Leeper
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And I can’t stand First Love sensitivity and love triangles are my pet peeves… Thank the author this book lacked this particular popular YA trope at least. To add to this I dislike Dystopian Future Sci-Fi. It always either too predictable or too unbelievable.
It’s not that the book was bad, but it was sort of mediocre in my view. I felt bored and nothing – not the world-building, not the main character, not even the romance made me want to know what comes next.
I’m aware that I’m not the target audience for the book; it is possible I could enjoy it more when I was younger… Because I was that much politicized and saw the world in black&white only way then. Not anymore.
That brings me to my major objection with the book. It was too preaching. Every word that came from the characters was to preach me with author’s political and religious ideals.
Also the book was overly politically correct. You see I don’t think modern obsession with political correctness is a way to acceptance (which has to be basic instinct for any individual). In my view it gives people false morals. Instead of being kind and supportive people just afraid to say something wrong.
In the book, for instance the scene with Teagan mistaking her dead boyfriend with the future love interest was treated as some horrible racist transgression and not simple humanly-possible identity mistake.
If the boy was white Teagan would have to apologize and go on with her story. For me it shows that the author is not color-blind as she wants to appear. Same goes with the first meeting between Teagan and Bethari. The girl assumes Teagan would be racist before even talking to her.
Another thing that annoyed me was the conversation between Bethari and the bodyguard that sounded like they were two political lawyers. In overall most of the side characters are quite rude when they talk to people who might have different views.
In addition I still can’t decide whether the world-building is believable or not. Showing the world through Teagan’s made eyes made it only worst; at times – it felt like the author decided not bothering with her not-so-thought-through world-building by stating that 16 year old protagonist just too young to see all the complexity of the world. But then she spent most of her writing effort on made-up slang. Which felt quite fake, really.
Also I had huge problem with the narration form of “me talking to you, who live in the Future” very quickly turned from not amusing to annoying. No, I don’t live in 22nd century. No I am not familiar with this world. Show me, don’t tell.
It’s even more problematic when you realize that whole story is Teagan’s interview. True she was asked to make it personal, but she way outdid it. I’m sure to explain government conspiracy you don’t have to explain slang or give particulars of you romantic life. I should have lasted hours…
From what I sampled the book’s progression the evil government twist was a bit silly for my taste and the addition of religious zealots superfluous.
I think I should stay away from YA, because it obviously doesn’t work for me.
The themes were many and complex in Tegan's story. What exactly constitutes life and who has the right to it? It is debated quite a bit whether Tegan deserves life after being revived. She has definite feelings on the subject, and it was hard to argue with her. Also raising the question of immigration. I know it was set in Australia, but it really resonates with me as a United States citizen. We look down on immigrants which is actually funny since the majority of us had ancestors who experienced the same prejudice when they immigrated. I don't understand how we lose the fact that they are living breathing people just like the people in Tegan's story. Immigrants are treated as a third class citizen.
This was a powerful book. It makes you think about deeper matters than your average dystopian book does. It makes you feel for those who were not born to a position of privilege. It makes an impact when you hear Tegan's words and hear her story.
The idea of a character traveling in time, either though machinery, dimension hopping or in this case suspended animation appeals as well since you can have comparisons of the two different societies. Karen Healey does a reasonable job of this. Australia in the future however is the paradise we'd wish it to be due both to the effects of climate change and the changes in society.
Some of the things which were less enjoyable about the book were the way the author tried to be too politically correct I felt. I also thought the villains were too 2 dimensional. Also please note that the author writes in a younger voice than I am used to reading, even in young adult books. Then again, it does match the age of the protagonist for once! Often authors who write young adult books have their teen characters thinking like older adults.