Saturday, December 4, 2010

Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

Pub Date: 5/23/11
ISBN: 9780547371481

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Thank you Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the ARC!

In 2060, the world 17-year-old Maddie (Madeline) lives in is lived through computers and networks. No one has to leave their homes to go to school or work, to “chat” and hang out with contacts/friends, see a movie, get coffee – everything has become a virtual reality existence. This is a result not really due to technological advancements pressing for this to happen, but rather because of the escalating school violence – shootings and bombings at schools of all levels – and an attempt to keep children in a safe, peaceful environment. And for Maddie, being permanently grounded and is always being monitored by her father, her world is very controlled and restricted – a world that has become to her a prison sentence and is suffocating her.

Her rigid and regimented life, however, becomes interesting upon meeting Justin on an online tutoring site, who then entices her to actually physically meet up with him at the tutoring center in town. Though apprehensive at first, Maddie agrees to meet Justin. After their face-to-face meeting and other meetings, Maddie begins to question the digitalized world, what is so dangerous about actually physically meeting and hanging out with people, to express her true feelings and opinions, instead of hiding them away and being secretive and anonymous, and discovering her unknowing role in the resistance against digitalized life.

I really enjoyed this novel, which is Katie Kacvinsky’s debut book, and I think it was extremely well written (I couldn’t put it down and finished it in less than a day). It reminded me of a mixture of Matched/ Hunger Games series/ the Uglies series, which turns out to be a great and fascinating combination. I also loved learning about the dynamics and ins-and-outs of the resistance groups. This dystopian novel – which I suspect will become a series – takes a more “what if computers ruled the world/ dictated humans’ lives” storyline. Not in the sense like Terminator computers taking over, but that our/humans’ entire lives are spent on and through computers and everyone else that is “plugged in.” This digitalization of the world occurred when Maddie was 6 – but what bothers me is how the adults, who accomplished in digitalizing the world and everyone (and almost everything) in it, suppose the human race is supposed to continue / procreate if people are not meeting each other physically. Sure, you would be able to do online dating, but you can’t really do online marriages, or have/make kids via online. I would be interested to find out, perhaps in the second novel if there is a series to this story, how the adults who run the digitalization of life in 2060 think they will be able to continue the human populace, if people aren’t willing to leave their houses for anything.

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