Friday, March 01, 2013

Review: When We Wake by Karen Healey

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When We Wake
Karen Healey
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Publication date: March 5th 2013
by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

My name is Tegan Oglietti, and on the last day of my first lifetime, I was so, so happy.

Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027—she’s happiest when playing the guitar, she’s falling in love for the first time, and she’s joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice.

But on what should have been the best day of Tegan’s life, she dies—and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.

Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity—even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn’t all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?

Award-winning author Karen Healey has created a haunting, cautionary tale of an inspiring protagonist living in a not-so-distant future that could easily be our own.

-A copy was provided by Hachette Book Group Canada for review-

What happens after death? Well for Tegan, it’s another life. 100 years from now. A fascinating premise indeed! Who’s not intrigued by the future? Curious about the state of our planet, the technology, even the fashion? I was really excited to get into this book and for the most part it I really enjoyed it. My problems mostly lay with the way the book came off as a big environmental/social speech.

Tegan is in love and it’s all pretty and roses, then she abruptly wakes up… 100 years from now. That would be a shocker on pretty much anybody. I liked how this was done, she was on the defensive, not believing anybody and fighting to get her way. She was a great protagonist for this story and I found her very likeable. Same with the secondary characters she comes to meet and call friends. They were all a little quirky with their own traits and personalities. I liked that they weren’t just fluffy plot fillers, they were fun characters and also very loyal to Tegan. Even though she leaves her love behind in the past, she does meet a new guy in the future (of course! 😉 and the romance is, although I wouldn’t call it chemistry filled, very sweet and well paced.

The plot itself is intriguing, too, we have the usual secrets and conspiracies that come about during the story. We know that what we’re told are most likely lies. It’s also told through Tegan’s voice, her telling us a story that’s already happened to her, so she adds short commentaries at spots to make us understand that we should be wary of everything she’s being told at this point. I thought this was very well done, it added a great touch of suspense into the novel. The world building itself, though, I will say I expected more. We’re suddenly 100 years in the future and not a whole lot is said about society itself. Cars, building, every day life, we don’t get any of those details and it came off as very anticlimactic for what you’d expect in a setting such as this. We do get into some details in regards to computers and the environment–the planet as a whole–but it still leaves too many unexplained areas that I’d think anyone talking about the future would immediately want to know.

The environment, however, nope, that one was not forgotten! Our people’s damaging ways and prejudices against several minorities were brought up so much in this book that it felt like a big speech on what our corrupt ways will bring if we don’t change. The planet dying, extremists who are trying to take things into their own hands, gay marriage being universally accepted, topics like this kept being brought up and not in a way to strengthen world building either–though it did work for that in some ways–but forcefully so that it felt like the book was yelling at me. Yelling at our generation for being the eventual end-all of our world. Shame on us! The first thing I did upon finishing this book was ask a friend “Did you feel this book was very preachy? Like a big speech on how our world is corrupt?”

A fantastic concept, compelling writing, and great characters, When We Wake does have a lot to offer. I wouldn’t say it’s an especially memorable read, I can already tell I will forget most of this book in a few months, but even with my issues it’s still fun and suspenseful while it lasts.

3 Hot Espressos


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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22 Responses to “Review: When We Wake by Karen Healey”

  1. Christina

    Hahahaha, you asked Jenni about the preachiness, right? I can totally see it, but it didn’t bother me because I loved Tegan and all The Beatles references so much. Oh well. This is why more people than just me need to write reviews.

  2. Amy

    This sounds good, but not fantastic. I love the concept, but it sounds too political and such for me. Great review babe!!

  3. Jennifer Messerschmidt

    I loved this one! It would be awesome to wake up in the future although not if the earth was in bad shape. I loved The Beatles chapter titles and references. The religious fanatics were freaky though. Could totally see that happening. It was funny when Teagan talks about how people are wondering if dating her would be considered necrophiliac. It explored some religious themes but I didn’t find it overly preachy. Realistic as I’m sure people would agree and disagree with the freezing process.

  4. Nick

    I read Jenni’s review and she had a pretty similar reaction to this book too if I remember. I don’t think I would enjoy this title if it’s preachy. I hate when that happens. There’s a way to talk about important issues without sounding like you’re forcing your ideas down the throat of your readers and not many writers can do that well. At least the plot line is intriguing. Too bad that this wasn’t a particularly memorable read for you, Giselle!
    Fabulous honest review, Giselle!

  5. Camille Picott

    The premise of this story sounds totally awesome. I could see how the preachy part of it could get annoying, but it still sounds like it’s worth checking out.

  6. Anatea Oroz

    Oh this one sounds amazing! I’m a little sad because the world isn’t fully described and a lot of stuff is left out, but I’ll still give this one a try. Great review Giselle!

  7. Renae M.

    Oh no! One thing I hadn’t hear about this book was that the author tends to preach. I HATE that so much. It was my biggest problem with Warm Bodies, for instance. I’m fine with the author making a point, but not if she does it in an obvious, beat you with an anvil, sort of way. I was really looking forward to getting my ARC, but now I’ll probably be a bit more realistic, which is is a better approach, all-around, in my opinion. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Giselle!

  8. kimbacaffeinate

    I love the premise and was so intrigued while reading your review until you got to the world-building and preaching…gads! I am glad you at least enjoyed it 🙂 awesome review Giselle!

  9. Sam

    Oh I think I might find some of that stuff a little too close to the preachy side of things, too. I’m not a fan of loud opinions being forced onto the reader. The rest sounds pretty good, though, with the exception of the poor world-building. But I don’t think I’m curious enough to want to buy a copy. Maybe it’s one for the library list. 😉

    Awesome review, Giselle!

  10. Jenea Whittington

    I think being frozen and woke up years would be scary as hell, but definitely interesting. Not to sure about all the preachiness, but I am curious about this now. Fantastic review.

  11. Megan K.

    Eh, I was really looking forward to this one. I guess I can take unmemorable, but like Megan (above) said, I don’t think I’ll like the preachiness much either. I hate it when books go all out on stuff like this. >.<

    Glad you enjoyed it overall, Giselle! Marvelous review as usual. 🙂

  12. Bellas Bookshelf

    No preachy preachy please. I read to escape not have flashbacks of Mrs.Flynn, my 8th grade teach who smelled like Veggie Soup and Jean Nate. She preached about Martin Luther King, John F Kennedy, and running the Boston Marathon!
    Oy vey!
    Besides that, I think I will enjoy this book.
    I find that some of the books I really liked, you didn’t..lolz..That’s OK though. You’re still top dawg in my book Gigi.
    Have a good one and say hi to lovely Canada for me 🙂

  13. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    The premise reminds me a bit of A Long, Long Sleep and I really liked that book, so I suppose there’s hope for me and When We Wake as well.
    To be honest, yours isn’t the first three star review I’ve seen, in fact, pretty much all of them have been lukewarm at best, so I don’t know when I’ll find the time for this one, but I suppose I will eventually. If and when there’s nothing better to read.
    Fantastic review. 🙂

  14. Kara_Malinczak

    I need to read this one since a lot of you guys seem to be enjoying it. The cover initially turned me off and I am such a cover whore, but the blurb does sound really exciting so I will have to give it a chance. Great review, cupcake!

  15. Sara @ Forever 17 Books

    I’m not too into the preachy, preachy type either. But still, the premise is pretty awesome and interesting. I hope I get a chance to check this one out at some point, though it doesn’t sound like something I’ll run to get. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 🙂