Author: Katie Kacvinsky
Format: ebook (netgalley)
Genre: Dyslit, Science Fiction YA
Published: 23rd May 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.
In Maddie's near-future world, everything can be done through a computer. For Maddie this means school, socialising, excercise ... even a walk in the park. She rarely leaves her house partly because she doesn't need to and partly because of restrictions set down by her father. Maddie's father is the head of Digital School and a few years previously Maddie hacked into his computer and caused all kinds of trouble - I won't explain any more as we don't find out any more details until later in the book - which essentially has had under house arrest since. Only now is she starting to get a little more freedom.
I found the whole idea behind this book completely fascinating. It's set fifty years into the future, so in a time that most of us will see (hopefully!) and to me it was completely believable that things could go that way. Today so much can already be done through computers and the internet, more and more of us are using it for shopping and socialising and there's already a whole bunch of online learning. Many of us have smartphones/laptops/tablets that mean we're constantly attached to the internet. Awaken is really just taking it a step further. Even the reasons given for the start of the Digital School make sense.
To start with Maddie is okay with the life she has but after meeting one of her online contacts in person, things start to change. Justin is against the solitary, digital life that most people lead and her introduces Maddie to a whole new world and things she's never experienced before.
I really liked the characters in this book, Maddie was both fiesty and in some ways innocent to the real world. She had a clear rebellious streak but it had mostly been trodden down by her father and we get to see it coming alive again as the book goes on. There was no surprise that there was some romantic element to the relationship between Maddie and Justin with a heap of "I'm not good enough for you" on his part to add to the tension.
I don't know if there's plans for a sequel but it certainly seemed like there was more of this story to tell and I definitely want to read more to find out what happens next.