Series: Awaken #1
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on May 23rd 2011
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.
Dystopian, baby! Do I really need to say more?
Awaken takes place about fifty years in the future, in the year 2060. This society has given up on social, person to person, interaction in favor of technology. Every aspect of one's daily life involves using a computer for something. Need to go to school? There is a computer for that. Want to go hang out or go on a date? There is a virtual world for that.
While this world is not over the top shocking or gives us a horrible scenario to fear, I will admit that it was one of the more realistic dystopian societies that I have read about in a while. Think about your daily life. How much time do you spend on a computer each day? How much of your social life revolves around the computer? Most of us have Facebook, Twitter, etc. and use these tools very frequently as a means of social interaction. Now, the world and society that Kacvinsky poses is a bit more extreme, but can't you imagine our own current society evolving into a form of this one? I know I could.
Much of Awaken revolves around the romance aspect. Maddy meets Justin. He is different. Goes against everything she has ever known. Goes against what her father stands for. Yep, that is teenage rebellion that you smell brewing. The romance begins innocently enough. The discovery of the rush of emotions. The normal trials and tribulations of a relationship. But as Awaken continues, it declines into what I like to call the unhealthy zone.
Maddy, being an insecure person, uses Justin as a life line. He is the "thing" that she has been searching for to make her feel more alive, more complete. Justin feels the rush similar to Maddy. Yet, he has so much baggage that will not allow him to take the next step. The inner turmoil that he has was as fascinating as it was frustrating. He constantly would take one step forward, only to take three back. To make matters worse, Justin's line of work is not ideal. He is always on the move. Not the sort of guy to able to be tied down. And Maddy cannot handle that. At one point, she is so torn up that she goes into a downward spiral. Not really sleeping, not really eating… By this point in the book, I was ready to throw in the towel. I understand pining for a guy. I understand that Maddy was upset. But come on!
Honestly, I think if things had continued in this fashion I would have quit Awaken. But believe it or not, there was a saving grace: Justin's mother. Just when I was ready to give up, her character comes to the rescue and points out all the things I had been screaming at Maddy for an uncountable amount of pages. From there things do not end all happily ever after, but it was definitely an improvement.
Romance issues aside, I found Awaken to be an intriguing read. I loved the world building. The idea that our own society is not too far off of Maddy's. There seems to be a sequel in the works, so I am curious to see what will happen next. Awaken was not my favorite dystopian of all time, but definitely worth the read.