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Not what I was hoping for
on January 6, 2010
Janie, the central character in Lisa McMann's Wake has an unusual problem - she gets pulled into other people's dreams. She has no control over when and where this happens, or over her own body while it's occurring. This causes a multitude of problems for Janie who struggles to hide her 'disorder' from everyone around her. She seems to be succeeding at keeping her secret, until one day the boy down the street happens to notice her strange behaviour. From that point on, Janie and Cabel attempt to forge a friendship while dealing with their respective secrets.
The premise of Wake is intriguing and original, but unfortunately the delivery leaves much to be desired. The biggest problem I had with the novel is the third person, present tense narration. It feels like the characters are talking about/to themselves the whole time, and it's very distracting. Add the extreme overuse of characters first names, and the short choppy sentences, and the result is a very frustrating writing style. The characters, while likable are not very well fleshed out, making it difficult to really care about them.
While I understand that the writer wanted to set up how difficult it was for Janie on a day-to-day basis, I found the many random dreams that Janie experienced pulled me out of the narrative, while the dreams of the characters we did know became very repetitive. And lastly, we never really learn why things are the way they are. Why does Janie have this ability? Why is Janie's mother such a mess? So many questions that seem important were never addressed. I know this is the first book in the series, so I'm hoping that the sequels will answer some of these questions.
This could have been a fascinating tale about dreams and inner desires, and overcoming debilitating obstacles. Instead Wake is a short story about some dark teens, with an interesting premise that is never really carried out.