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Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Pages: 320

Ages: Young Adult

Publishers 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.

Project yourself 50 years into the future, a place where trees no longer exist and parents are relied on only as a means to provide shelter until a child turns 18. In Maddie’s world this is practically all she’s known. Her world is based out of her bedroom primarily and all of the friends she could ever want are available at the click of a button. Or so she thought. When Maddie meets Justin for a face-to-face study group her world is turned upside-down, everything from her home to the food she eats is in question. Perhaps this could be easily remedied were it not for the fact that her father happens to be the creator of this new virtual world she’s existed in for years. It’s up to her to decide whether she will change her entire life or travel the same lonely road she’s been on.

Awaken is another dystopian novel in a long line of recent debuts this year, but in many ways it stands out from the pack as different if for no other reason than it’s extremely true-to-life. What Kacvinsky has done in creating the world Maddie lives in is take the elements we thrive under and expound on them tremendously. How many of us are not literally glued to the computer, phone or tablet device of our choosing for numerous hours a day? Are we not that far from a world where the only interactions we have are with keyboards and monitors? It was interesting to see how Kacvinsky took a highly likely situation and expanded it to prove there is some harm in delving too deeply into this virtual world we all love so much.

With Maddie and Justin you get a nearly typical young adult romance, with a few exceptions. Obviously Justin has much more life experience than Maddie and it causes a huge rift in their relationship. Not only does he want to protect her, but he wants to expose her to the world and everything there is to experience (now, don’t get worried, there’s no serious stuff here just the occasional make-out scene). This makes Justin a walking contradiction, but also quite sad because I think it goes to show how little he understands about love due to his own parents lack of involvement in his life. Maddie on the other hand is determined to change not only herself but also Justin and the world. Their relationship, more than anything else, was the driving catalyst behind much of the story and though I enjoyed that aspect I’m not sure it was nearly enough especially considering the ending. Let’s just say I’m eagerly anticipating the sequel, Middle Ground, due out possibly next year sometime.

Katie Kacvinsky has created a world that’s not only possible, but absolutely plausible. We rely on technology to a fault at times and every avenue of this is exploited in Awaken. Through Maddie and Justin, Kacvinsky illustrates the powerful impact both childhoods can have on a person and neither may be the absolute best. Would you choose to live in a world where the only interaction you had was with a computer screen? Awaken not only explores the power of the choices we make, but the ramifications of not making any choices at all. Dive into a debut dystopian novel from the very promising Katie Kacvinsky and start questioning where you want your path to lead you.

The1stdaughter Recommends: Ages 15 and up. A promising debut novel that dystopian fans will love and will leave computer users questioning the ramifications of an isolated society.

Also, love this book trailer for the German version of Awaken! You obviously can’t understand the words without knowing German, but having read the book I think it does a great job of illustrating the subject. Take a look:

Find Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky at the following spots:
Powell’s Books
Barnes & Noble

Thank you so much to the publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for providing a copy of this book for review via Amazon Vine! Connect with them on Twitter and on Facebook!
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2 Responses to Book Review: Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

  1. Beth Hoffman says:

    I fell in love with this book’s cover, and your review is terrific! You’ve convinced me to add this to my TRB list!

  2. I’ve been itching to try this one.

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