Hey guys and welcome to our second round from the Blogger's Bookshelf regular reviewers, this week you'll also see a couple of our guest reviewers creeping into the posting schedule so stay tuned!
Here's my second review, 'Awaken' by Katie Kacvinsky.
The story is set in a not to distant future America, 2060 to be precise, in a society where everything is done via computer. The people of this world simply don't interact 'IRL', they exist online as avatars and are completely comfortable with the lack of human contact.
This virtual life was established after the invention of 'virtual schools', originally designed and created to keep children safe and away from harm. This revolutionary schooling system branched out into the wider society and turned the world into one that it glued to computer screens and online life, where people just don't leave their houses anymore.
Maddie, the protagonist in the story was raised thinking that this is the norm thanks to her father, the founding father of the movement and creator of virtual schools. She's a bit of a loner, and seems completely comfortable with her solitary existence. Then by chance she meets Justin in an online chatroom and they agree to meet IRL - a big, big deal in this world. Justin turns out to be completely different to what she expected. He's a free spirit who lives for the moment, relishes human contact and is devastatingly good looking. He wants Maddie to wake up and experience life, and to also join his friends to set the chains of society free from this life. She falls for him, obviously, and he makes her really 'feel' for the first time.
I won't tell you what happens in the rest of the book...because you could probably predict what would happen after reading a couple of chapters - I know I did - which is my main niggling gripe with this book. As an ever increasingly popular genre, the dystopian future novel is one that can be hard to make original now. Kacvinsky has done a decent enough job though. This new world order is set mere decades from now and it's a little broken, the government is corrupt - or oblivious to the effect of this kind of life - and they seems to hinder freedom instead of facilitating it. But there's an air of familiarity when Maddie talks of flipbooks - notebook type computers that people are afraid to tear their eyes from *cough* iPads *cough* -, people living 'plugged in' lives and chatrooms/social networks where people can create completely altered versions of themselves.
Maddie herself is an unusual soul, she's actually rebelled against her father before - so extremely that she's actually technically under house arrest in the book - but she deeply loves her family, especially her mother. She questions her life but does understand why they all live this way.
Justin on the other hand is your typical charming rogue, who unfortunately does have what I like to call an 'Edward Cullen complex' - i.e. 'I'm too dangerous for you Maddie(or Bella), stay away from me...then proceeds to make out with her. The ending and even some of the events leading up to it were a little predictable having read a couple of dystopian novels. I was also left wondering whether there was actually any real danger in this world - event the police are banned from carrying 'real' guns. Basically no one seems to be hurting one another too much and that's kind of a nice world to live in.
So my verdict?
Awaken probably won't shake the world in terms of originality but what it will do is make you think. Maddie brings up continuous questions about the difference between living online and reality, and actually made me feel a little guilty for tweeting about the book after! The world has some unnervingly similarities to our own in terms of how much is done online and for me, that's where the real power of the book lies.
It's definitely one for those easing into the dystopian genre and a quick, easy read for those who are already accustomed to the genre. Fingers crossed the sequel (Middle Ground) won't let me down!
American Idiot: Green Day; No Light, No Life: Florence + the Machine; One Vision: Queen; Must Get Out: Maroon 5; Careful: Paramore; Feel The Sunshine: Joe Brooks; Dare You To Move: Switchfoot.
For lovers of...Dystopian novels like Divergent and Delirium and self-confessed social media addicts.
This review was written by regular review Ria, get to know her here.