Wednesday, May 25, 2011

ARC Review: Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

Author: Katie Kacvinsky
Publication: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (May 23, 2011)

Description: 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: This was another entertaining and thought-provoking dystopia. Maddie's father is the founder of DS - the online school that all students attend. He is rich and powerful. People have shifted to doing everything online these days. Large numbers of school shootings and even some school bombings caused education to shift online. A fear campaign also keeps most people at home.

But Maddie is more restricted than most. She is on probation for something she did at age 15. She shared information from her father's files with people who tried to destroy DS by blowing up the towers that broadcast the signals. Her father's wealth and influence managed to keep her out of jail for being a terrorist but she has lost her father's trust and is constantly being monitored. She is only allowed to leave home for a very few activities -- soccer and some group tutoring.

At one tutoring session she meets Justin. He has communicated with her online and they have become friends. Justin is a rebel who thinks that people need to meet face-to-face. He is opposed to the whole idea of DS. His parents were some of the rebels who fought DS when Maddie inadvertently aided those who were striking against it. For her it was just adolescent rebellion; she had no political agenda. Justin exposes Maddie to lots of things she hasn't ever known -- live music, coffee shops, and friends. But Justin has an agenda. He wants Maddie to help bring down DS.

The relationship between Maddie and Justin grows closer when they get involved in helping some kids who are being sent to detention centers escape. But Maddie's involvement gets her sent to a detention center too. She manages to escape and sees more about how people can live without spending all their time online.

I liked watching Maddie grow and change as her eyes were opened to the world around her. I liked her conflict between her family and her friends. I thought that her indecision was realistic. I thought Justin was a great character too. He was so committed to changing society that he didn't think he could have anything for himself. It was nice to see how both characters adjusted their attitudes because of their contact with each other. 

This was a fascinating story that could really happen. It is a possible progression from the way things are today with school shootings and so many kids spending so much time online. It would be a good story for thoughtful teens. 

Favorite Quote:
I'm used to the security of living behind my online profiles and the clip art advertisements I create to define me. I can be whoever I want to be in that world. I can be funny, deep, pensive, eccentric. I can be the best version of myself. Better yet, an exaggeration of the best version of myself. I can make all the right decisions. I can delete my flaws by pressing a button.
I received this eARC from NetGalley. It is available at Amazon in hardcover or for the Kindle.


  1. Ahh this one sounds good. I hope it lives up to the rave reviews it's been getting though. If it does, I'll be so excited to discover a new good YA Dystopian!


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