Sunday, January 8, 2012

Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

Jacque's Review:

Awaken is set about 50 years into the future.  From the way technology is moving at the speed of light and people are embracing it without thought or question, I do not feel that Katie's predictions are unrealistic.

I found this book to be very thought provoking.  How many times have you been out with friends or family and spent more time with your head in your phone than interacting with the people you are with?  Are your virtual friends more important than your actual friends?  What do you REALLY know about your thousands of friends on twitter, blogs, and other social networking sites.  Is technology making face to face contact awkward and uncomfortable?  Is it time that we take a step back and actually become "unplugged?"

This is exactly what Justin and his friends are trying to do.  They are helping people who want to live the way things were in the early 2000s, which is considered to be a crime.  Life doesn't have to be ALL about speed and convenience.  We need to take the time to enjoy food, friends, family, and daily activities.  We need to take a step away from the digital world and actually LIVE our lives.  Yes...we can tour a location on a digital screen, but we are not engaging all of our senses and we are missing out on the true experience.  These are just a few of the lessons that I took away from this book and could really relate to while reading it.

The other main character in this book is Madeline.  Her father is the founder of Digital School, but she is a strong supporter of Justin's cause.  While Justin is helping others to live freely, he is all about work and has closed himself off on a personal level.  Madeline is the one person that confronted him about how he needs to take time for himself.  There needs to be a balance in life.  For the first time in his life, Justin spends more than a day in one place.  He begins to develop a relationship with Madeline, but he is still learning how to become unplugged emotionally.

Madeline and Justin's relationship is still evolving and there is a considerable amount of work that still needs to be done if the world is truly going to become unplugged.  Fortunately for us, Katie has a sequel to this book, Middle Ground, which is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2012.  I have already added it to my to be read list and will be anxiously awaiting its release.  I absolutely loved the characters and can't wait to see what is in store for them in the sequel.

Flo's Review:

I remember, a long time ago -- probably when this book first came out -- thinking, "Oh, this sounds interesting." So I was happy that the BookNerds selected it as our December Book of the Month. Jacque read it first and was really excited about it, then Teri started it next and couldn't finish it, so I was definitely curious as to what I would think.

Unfortunately, I ended up taking Teri's road with this one. I did not finish it.

I definitely think the concept of Awaken is an interesting one. Like a lot of dystopian fiction, Maddie's world does not seem that unrealistic. I could easily see this happening by 2060. But the most important part of a book for me is my connection with the characters. And I didn't feel that with this protagonist. Maddie reminds me of Vi in Possession, and I have the same criticism for her as I did for Vi -- I like to see the journey that the main character takes from being totally pro-Their Society to being totally con-Their Society. When we start the story, Maddie has already rebelled in the past. She's already questioning. But she has resolved to put it behind her, when she meets Justin. And seemingly like a light switch, Justin is leading her back down the rebellious path again. It's a very thin, very hard line for YA books to cross when the lead character is a young girl and the one who starts her thinking differently is the Hottie Boy. It has to come across that the girl is making the decision on her own, coming to terms with her changing view by herself, and not just blindly following the boy. To me, it read like Justin swooped in and suddenly, hey, maybe Mom's not too crazy! I don't know...maybe I need there to be some other outside factors besides just the Boy for me to buy such a big change of heart? Maybe it would have been easier for me if I felt the boy was that amazing (and for whatever reason, I didn't connect with Justin)?

All that being said, the truth is I didn't finish it. Maybe the pieces I saw of Maddie and of Justin, of the whole story, are just that -- pieces.  And I'd need to see more to fully understand. I did read a review (and Jacque just said it, above) that talked about Maddie unplugging physically and Justin unplugging emotionally and how they help each other and are, thus, a perfect fit. I like that :) And, I know I said this before, but I really do like the realness potential of this one. It makes you think -- could we really be headed that way? How would you be in that world?

Maybe we should start fighting to stay unplugged now.

Mary's Review

Ok.  I will be the first BookNerd to admit that I am technology addict.  I do not think I could live without my Facebook or Twitter!! Plus, all of us BookNerds met on Twitter!! However, when I read this book my mind was actually opened to "the old ways".  Well, I am not that old BUT I do remember days before the Internet took over.  Don't get me wrong, I love those days and I would never change my childhood; however I do not know what I would do with technology today.  Back to my point, when I finished this book (and before I tweeted it) I actually looked at my computer differently.  The stuff that Justin was telling Maddie really got me thinking because I am (sort-of) the same way.  I socialize on the Internet, I have gone to school on the computer, I keep up with the latest news/activities on the computer and I do almost all my shopping on the Internet.  Could I survive if something happen to the Internet?  Sure I could but, I think it would be hard. 

When I read Maddie I saw a lot of her in me.  I could see her being sucked into the world of technology and not being able to come out.  That is one reason why I look at my computer differently.  Then there was Justin (sigh)! He was there to "guide" Maddie to seeing the world without being "plugged into it".  Maddie's mother had planted some ideas in her head already.  The journal was my favorite thing because Maddie looked at it as an artifact, but it was something that became so important to Maddie.  I loved that Justin protected Maddie so much.  My most favorite part of the whole book was when they were on the beach watching the sunset. Something so simple as a sunset was a life changing experience for Maddie!  It was hard for me to see Maddie go against her father so much because I saw how much it hurt her.  Though, in the end, Maddie really sees the world as it should be "unplugged". 

I loved this book and I cannot wait to see what the next book bring with Justin and Maddie!!

1 comment :

  1. Ok I am putting my two cents in just in case someone wants to know my reasons for not finishing this book. #1..I just did not connect with these characters....#2 I am a serious computer addict..not just iphone as well..I am always on the internet. I think this book scared me just a tad, the whole thing seemed plausible by the way the world is quickly turning..I put it bored me, even with the hitting close to home story line....