23.7.11

Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky




This promising dystopian novel takes place in a society where the greatest part of human relationships takes place via the internet, sitting at a computer. Reading the description of this book I was led to believe that its characters are people who 'live life through a computer, do everything on a computer, hardly ever meet other people and so on.'

Here start the problems with this book.
It would have been very interesting if indeed it was about a society where there was none or little human communication, but that certainly is not the case here. It is simply a world identical to our own, with the difference that almost all schools have been shut down and are now digital.
I was very disappointed in the huge holes in world-building.
I can't say more because I might spoil the plot, but it was not a well-built world. It was so incomplete, inconsistent with itself and confusing, that I couldn't picture the hero and heroine in that world. It was like seeing them move and talk in front of an ever-changing landscape. I hated that, it made me dizzy.

Anyway, the girl who is our protagonist is more confined to her computer than most other girls of her world, and that's why she is so intrigued when she meets a boy who wants to meet and get to know her in person, not via chat or messaging. He starts questioning everything, challenging to see things diefferently, to "awaken". The plot snowballs from there, which was nice and there was quite a lot of action, which was one of the things I loved about this book.

The romance was quite a large part of the book, and the problem I had with that was that it didn't fit in the dystoian society in which they were supposedly living. I say supposedly, because I never quite understood exactly what the problem was with their world, why they were being chased and in danger of being imprisoned or killed. Anyway, it didn't seem realistic that they were thinking about how hot the other was while they were simultaneously fearing for their lives and trying to change the world.

What I really took from this book, which I thought was rather great, were thoughts about the meaning of life.

If you only live in a way that is supposed to keep you safe, then are you really living?
If you are living a predictable, normal life that others have preordained for you, then are you really living?
If people are suffering and you are doing nothing about it, then are you really living?
And, most important of all.
If you are passing your time, just surviving, just doing things so that you're not bored,
 then are you really living?

I loved being asked these questions and seeing how the characters and the author attempted to answer them.
Although, it's true, no one can answer these questions for you. You must answer them for yourself.
And, at the end, this book doesn't claim to give any answers.
Just a (mediocre, in my opinion) story and some brilliant, deep questions.

I'm glad I read it and I will again.

Rating: 3/5

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