When We Wake by Karen Healy
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Length: 320 pages
Genera: Science Fiction
Subjects: Dystopian, Romance, Government,
How I obtained the book: Library, hardcover
My name is Tegan Oglietti, and on the last day of my first lifetime, I was so, so happy.
Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027–she’s happiest when playing the guitar, she’s falling in love for the first time, and she’s joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice.
But on what should have been the best day of Tegan’s life, she dies–and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.
Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity–even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn’t all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?
The only reason I read this book was because of Renae’s review. I couldn’t have been any less interested in the book, to be honest. It sounded like another boring dystopian with a hint of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE.
I’m so happy to say that WHEN WE WAKE was different from everything I’d ever read in the genre. Dystopian and science fiction are my favorite genres, and have been ever since I was a kid. I don’t often get lucky with them however and I tend to find most of my favorite books in the fantasy and contemporary genres.
I got lucky.
WHEN WE WAKE is set in 2127 where the world is very different from how it is now. But in a good way (for the most part). The world is greener, for one. Mankind learned to live by the land and follow the three ‘R’s of recycling. Homosexual love isn’t viewed any different than heterosexual love – which is awesome. Yet the world is certainly not perfect as racial tensions are higher than ever.
I guess Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ world hasn’t happened yet. heh I made a funny.
Tegan wakes up to this world – like she literally woke up. She was cryogenically frozen for 100 years after being accidentally shot and ‘killed’. This is the point where you have to just go with the flow. It doesn’t make any sense that Tegan could sign up for being frozen without actually knowing what she was signing up for.
Tegan faces the obvious cultural shock of walking up a hundred years into the future, not to mention the grief that comes with the realization that all of Tegan’s friends and family have been dead for a very long time. She also faces the trouble that comes with being the first successful awakened person, target of a cult, and being used by various institutions and people.
Thankfully, Tegan is more than apt to care of herself. She’s one of my all time favorite heroines. Tegan is strong and willful. She’s definitely not afraid to speak her mind when and wherever she chooses.
“It was the truth,” I said.
“Truth! We didn’t put you on camera to speak the truth! We needed a pretty face!”
“Well, tough,” I snapped. “You got me instead. I guess your little clockwork doll broke down.”
“I am so tired of being used. The army tried to do it, Tatia tried to do it, and now you’re trying to do it. I’m a person, not a symbol, not property, and not a prop. If you want me dead, I can’t stop you, but I won’t make it easier for you either. Dirty your own fucking hands.”
The quotes remind me a bit too much of MOCKINGJAY, the finale in the Hunger Games series. Katniss was being used by both the rebels and the formal government for much of the book. What disappointed me was how well Katniss took it. All I wanted was for her to say what Tegan did.
I really love Tegan even though it’s not like she was ever the most original character. I like that about her in this case. People can be brave without being a superhero – it’s actually possible. Tegan was a brave, wonderful girl who wasn’t a superhero, nor did she try to be. I think she was perfect without being… perfect.
While the book deals with a lot of really serious and deep issues like racial discrimination, Healey doesn’t fill her entire book with that. She instead fills her time with needed character development and the most important thing to any book – character interaction. Each and every one of Healy’s characters are well rounded. I feel like Bethari, Joph, and the others could be in my life and that they could be my friends.
What I truly love about the characters is how different they are. They all come from different religious backgrounds, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. This is very much lacking in most YA (and Adult) literature. The characters are usually white, very rarely anything other than a Christian or an Atheist, and straight. There is nothing wrong with white Christian straight people but I do really love when authors add characters that break the average mold.
Tegan and the other characters were definitely my favorite aspect to the book but the moral and ethical problems that were introduced were another one of my favorites. There are a few that I wish were more elaborated on but for the most part, I felt that they were a very nice addition to the book.
Before I end the review, I want to say that I, like some other reviewers, am very sad to hear that there is a sequel to WHEN WE WAKE in the works. I found the ending perfect for the book and wouldn’t want it any other way. I will probably end up reading the sequel just because I want more Tegan but I highly doubt it will be anything like WHEN WE WAKE. But then again, you never know. Healy is probably talented enough to pull it off.
WHEN WE WAKE is an intelligent, beautiful dystopian that really challenges the norm of dystopian novels. With this book, I have a bit more hope that, just maybe, other authors will realize that there is more to dystopian fiction then love triangles. I recommend this book with all my heart and will be seeking out Healy’s other books.