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5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too, June 13 2011
This review is from: Awaken (Hardcover)
Gold Star Award Winner!

AMAZING! That's what went through my mind as I turned the final page of AWAKEN. AWAKEN is one of a slew of dystopian novels that are flooding the market, but this one definitely stands out in front of the pack.

Maddie has grown up in a society where there is little need to leave the house. Shopping can be done online and delivered. School is done from the computer, as well. Maddie has many friends, but they are all on line. So she's hesitant when one of her online friends invites her to a study group one night. Not only is she not used to being around people, she has to ask permission to leave the house.

Maddie meets Justin at the group. Justin has done his research and knows Maddie's father is behind the founding of Digitial School. And he has learned that someone had previously hacked into the system in an attempt to sabotage it. Justin is actually surprised to find out that Maddie is a girl.

Justin introduces Maddie to a world that involves actual face-to-face social interaction. It's a world Maddie is unfamiliar with, but now that she's had a taste of it, she wants more. But her father doesn't want her to see Justin again.

As the story unfolds, Maddie's history comes out, and the reader learns about her being on house arrest for her computer hacking attempt. It's just that ability and her close connection to her father that Justin and his group of rebels want access to.

All of the characters in AWAKEN were wonderful and easy to relate to. Even Maddie's father, though the villain in the story (or so you are led to believe), has his reasons and beliefs for what he does. Outside of Maddie and Justin, I have to say that my favorite character was Maddie's mom. Though she is a quiet person and supportive of her husband, she does little rebellious things all the way through that make you want to go, "Yeah, mom!" It culminates when she hands Maddie her sneakers. (Read the story, you'll know what I'm talking about!)

There is so much action in AWAKEN that I found my heart racing at different points in the story. The tension between Maddie and Justin is palpable, but just enough out of reach to keep the reader hungering for more. I don't know that a sequel is planned, but the story ends leaving you wanting that continuation.

Reviewed by: Jaglvr
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4.0 out of 5 stars very interesting, Oct. 24 2011
This review is from: Awaken (Hardcover)
it's the first book i read from this author and i found myself not wanting to let go of the book. the story keeps you on edge.
i'm really hoping they make a movie of this! or the author writes a sequel!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting...., Sept. 18 2011
Valerie Christie (Ontario, Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Awaken (Hardcover)
I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this book! Definately worth your while... I only hope there is a sequel?? It ended without much of an "ending"...

Updated Feb 7, 2012: Yayyyyyyy! Sequel to be released November 2012, titled "Middle Ground"
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4.0 out of 5 stars Review by Bibliotropic ([...]), May 31 2011
Ria (Bibliotropic) (Saint John, New Brunswick Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Awaken (Hardcover)
Katie Kacvinsky wove an interesting vision of the future that reads like a highly entertaining cautionary tale of relying too much on technology and online communication, with more than a hint of rebellion against the concept of "we know what's best for you," and a hefty dose of trying to find a balance. This appealed to me in particular since I myself walk a rather fine line between making use of online communication and striving to find a greater connection with the physical world around me. It isn't an easy line to walk, as Maddie discovers over the course of this novel.

The world in Awakened is compelling and interesting, and the bulk of the novel involves a fight against Digital School, which, in essence, is homeschooling 2.0. Students take classes from the comfort of their own homes, connected to other students via their computers, sending their work for evaluation to teachers whom they never actually meet. It's effective in protecting children from the dangers of the outside world, violence and misery and accidents, but also effective in cutting everyone off from human contact, limiting them in myriad ways. There's a sinister undercurrent to this: the creator of Digital School, also Maddie's father, seeks to quell the rebellion against his creation, and how better to do that than to make sure people are kept apart, their interactions kept solely online where Big Brother can monitor.

It isn't scary in the way that a horror novel would define the word. It's scary in its subtleties, the way that sort of thinking permeates life, the way we can see the seeds of that future growing in our own society. You, reading this right now, have likely only ever interacted with me by typing words to me, never spoken to me, never seen me, and how easy is it to think that that's exactly how it should be?

Slippery slope arguments are often invalidated, but so fascinating to consider the consequences of.

Kacvinsky does a great job of building characters as real as the world around them, giving them layers, quirks, foibles, difficulties to overcome that aren't always handled neatly and concisely. The romance between Maddie and Justin, for example, is the sort of "on again off again" relationship that frustrates me to no end when I see it in books, but as a counter to that, it's frustrating to the characters, too. The defenses they put up are logical, their arguments not always logical, their feelings often illogical.

Just the way real life works.

The author hasn't just stepped onto the YA stage here, she's fairly danced gracefully onto it. I eagerly look forward to what she's going to write in the future, and I hope it'll be as interesting as what she's done here. This book comes highly recommended to those who enjoy a good dystopian YA novel.
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Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky (Hardcover - May 23 2011)
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