Review : Awaken, Katie Kacvinsky

Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

May 23rd, 2011 (US)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


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.

My review

Dystopian novels proliferate in YA literature since Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I find this kind of literature fascinating. I enjoyed 1984 by Georges Orwell or Globalia by Jean-Christophe Ruffin. The possibilities for our future are endless and the authors renew the genre every time.  Katie Kacvinsky’s debut novel, well-written but simplistic, is a violent denunciation of the gradual desocialization of young people addicted to technology.

Before 2054, school violence was so murderous that on-line home schooling became the norm.  6 years later, all is done on computers. Friends, education, sports, life are seen through Internet, social networks and software. In an amazing way of life, while you can now attend all the events around the world and be instantly connected to thousands of people together from different countries, people always stay at home, are isolated and forget the outside world and nature that surround them and to which they belong.

Maddie, 17 years old, did not think about that before meeting Justin. Heiress of the creator of the Digital School, one of the most powerful men in the United States, she follows the rules established by her parents since her probation two years ago after an act of rebellion that could have broken her father and her family. But when Justin, who she meets on an Internet chat, gives her a glimpse of the reality of the outside world, she knows she can be herself with him and finally think for herself. But Justin is a part of the protestors against Digital School…

This first novel, because I can not imagine that there will not be a sequel, has the advantage of putting everything in perspective, our values, our lifestyles, our relationships with others, while in 2010, social networks and mobile electronic devices have never been so present in our lives. The message is clear and a little bit repetitive, through discussions between Maddie and Justin, like a parent teaching his precepts to a newborn. Except that Maddie is very attracted to Justin and that he, despite his lonely and mysterious side, does not seem to be uninterested.

Maddie was considered as a specialist in hiding behind her screen via avatars, nicknames and a different behavior than in reality. It was quite well portrayed by the author initially, when she was embarrassed by meeting people for real, but very quickly, this flaw miraculously disappears from the novel. Some elements of the novel are a bit stereotyped, but the relationship between Justin and Maddie is very cute. Justin is the perfect character to fall in love with. He is mysterious, lonely, focalized on his goal but feels something for Maddie although he does not want it. He opens Maddie’s eyes and teaches her to see the life in a different and better way. But the principal message is clear: people prefer to live a virtual life rather than confront people physically.

Hopefully the time of the rebellion will come in the sequel, if eventually there is one.


23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa
    Nov 15, 2010 @ 19:18:24

    Oh la la your first review in english !!! Wow it seems perfect for me !!! I wish I could make that king of essay at schools lol but my teacher seems to think that there is too much “bla bla” (that’s her words, not mine…).

    Hum, and when we are talking about school… “1984”, yes, I have to read this one, even though I haven’t done it yet ! No time… And no desire : things are less attractive and you’re forced to do them ! And I should buy it before read it lol.

    But now : your review ! I don’t know if I will read that book, but you awoke my interest. 😉 The story looks like so many others, but if you compared this to Hunger Games, it must be good !


    • Francesca
      Nov 15, 2010 @ 21:27:27

      Thank you! I think my vocabulary is too poor and I cannot share exactly my feelings with you as good as in french but I’m trying to improve. 🙂

      1984 is an amazing novel, you should read it , it’s one of my favourite novels, I’ve read it severak years ago, I cannot forget it!

      Awaken is not the same kind of story as Hunger Games but it’s a dystopian novel and I think it’s becoming one of my favourite genre of literary.


  2. Lisa
    Nov 15, 2010 @ 21:52:58

    I don’t know, I think I prefer romantic stories.^^ But I love HG and VA… There are not really romantic stories lol (except VA but just a little part).

    Yes, I’m lossing my words every time too ! Too difficult to express the same feelings in english lol.

    Don’t worry, I’m going to read 1984, I just don’t know when exactly. 😉 But before the end of these two years for sure !


  3. Lisa
    Nov 15, 2010 @ 21:53:52

    I missed the reply button again lol. And it’s loosing, not lossing.^^


  4. Elizabeth-Bennet
    Nov 15, 2010 @ 22:47:06

    Wow ! Congratulations Fran, this new blog is really nice ! And I like your review. I had already noticed this book and it’s on my wish-list.


  5. Missy
    Nov 15, 2010 @ 23:22:03

    ok I’m starting because Fran you are the best ^^
    I will not answer your comments because I am unable at this time (This time LOL)
    This book intrigued me for by its history.
    We talked about Fran? no?
    I want to read because the story seems nice, and the denunciation of future is so true…
    Thank you for attention. (LOL)


    • Francesca
      Nov 16, 2010 @ 09:48:01

      NOOO not at all my dear Missy LOL I’m not as computer addict as people in Maddie’s world, trust me. But if I can meet one gorgeous man, I will definitely do the same thing. HA HA ^^

      Thank you 🙂


  6. Missy
    Nov 16, 2010 @ 10:32:55

    Me too i’m not computer addict like Maddie… but i’m not far LOL
    Humm gorgeous man… i’m ok with you for that. LOL
    Yet, if new generation continuous like that the future will be like people Maddie’s world

    PS: how you do smiley? ^^
    (I’m not sure for word smiley :P)


  7. Missy
    Nov 16, 2010 @ 10:33:39

    it’s ok i found it! LOL


  8. Klo... what else
    Nov 16, 2010 @ 13:00:04

    Such a smart blog Frany!!!! I love it yet because I know this is a place to be. Somenone who love to read good books just need to have a look at it then pick up them even if he may doesn’t know the writter^^. You rock girl! I wish you the best^^


  9. Celine___
    Nov 21, 2010 @ 13:30:24

    Wow! Congrats Fran for you first review in English ! It’s awesome !
    I will not too writing in English because I’m not as good as you (because I just begun English at school), but I can tell you a lot of congratulations, you’re a confirmed blogger ! ^^

    Cheers! xxx


  10. Celine___
    Nov 21, 2010 @ 13:32:13

    I love the cover of this book ! 😀


  11. Pisinat
    Dec 18, 2010 @ 12:53:58

    I looooove dystopia! (but I haven’t read 1984 yet, booo shame on me :p)
    This books definitely sounds like a book I would love! But reading what you wrote about the end, that it really is frustating, I hope this time that there will be a second book! That’s the last straw… Me, always complaining about the endless series, hoping a sequel! lol


    • Francesca
      Dec 19, 2010 @ 21:26:26

      You MUST read 1984, it’s the first one, a classic! Yes, I think there will be a sequel but the release is in 6 moths so there is lot of time before annoucement


  12. sillyhay
    Dec 24, 2010 @ 11:51:56

    il y a une date de sortie française prévue ou pas? si non est ce que l’anglais est facile dans celui ci? depuis que j’ai lu VA en anglais (grâce à toi dc merci encore) la lecture en VO me tente de ^plus en plus mais il faut qu’il soit facile à lire quand même ^^


  13. Katie Kacvinsky
    May 07, 2011 @ 15:39:11

    Wow–your first review in English, for my book! It’s an awesome review Francoise! Thanks so much for your support and for loving my book. I can’t wait for it to be released in France. (It also sold in Germany, keep your fingers crossed that more foreign houses pick it up). I’m hard at work on the sequel!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: