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Review: When We Wake by Karen Healey

13 Feb 2013

When We Wake 
by Karen Healey 
Publisher: Allen & Unwin 
Release Date: January 27th. 2013
Format: Paperback, 291 pages 

The last thing Tegan remembers is the crack as the gun went off, intense pain, and everything fading to black. One hundred years later, she wakes up. A fast-paced near-future romance.

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 person to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity - though all she wants is to rebuild some semblance of a normal life ...
 including spending as much time as possible with musically gifted Abdi, even if he does seem to hate the sight of her. 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 first word that comes to mind when I think of When We Wake is 'interesting'. I know that's an extremely vague term to describe the book...but it pretty much sums up my feelings for it. I found the premise fascinating, and the characters were generally likeable but there were parts that I felt could've been handled better. Overall though, it was like I said , an 'interesting' read.

We have our main character, Tegan or 'Teeg' who recently died and woke up 100 years in the future. I'm sure that alone is enough to pique anyone's interest! The idea of a corpse being ‘cryonically frozen’ and then revived a century later was certainly refreshing, thought-provoking and intriguing. It left me wondering; could it possibly aid the future if dead people were able to be revived? And what would the future be like granted this was possible? And of course, there're also questions of just how ethical this is... I love books that make me think so I was really pleased with this!

The characters were all extremely likeable, though admittedly forgettable. One reason would probably be the fact that their names were so hard to remember and no one really…stood out. ( Try remembering names like Abdi / Zaneisha/ Bethari/ Joph; I honestly forgot ALL those names two minutes after finishing the book). Names aside, I really enjoyed Teeg, Bethari & Joph’s friendship; they might not have know each other for long, but they shared this special bond & their friendship was so genuine and endearing<3 There's also Abdi, who helps and supports Teeg along during her ‘second’ life; they got off to a rocky start, but I love how they were able to bond over their mutual love for music, or more specifically, mutual love for The Beatles! The romance takes a backseat, and was a nice addition to the main plotline.

Now, the character I absolutely despised was The Father. He's the leader of a cult called he has the weirdest, most corrupt logic in the world. He wants Teeg to kill herself, because her second chance at life is going against God's wishes. Religious beliefs aside, it was so hypocritical of him to expect her to kill herself because apparently 'murder is a sin' and he didn’t want to get his own hands dirty. Though he’s never killed anyone, he’s known all along that innocents were being murdered but he never intervened. So apparently, as long as it’s not him committing the murder with his bare hands, he'll be exempt from punishment. What on earth? The guy seriously drove me nuts. He was a freaking raging lunatic. (He doesn’t even deserve his own paragraph but I HATE HIM SO MUCH. )

Now, a couple of 'it's-not-you-it's-me' issues. We're educated on a lot of the economic, political and science matters currently taking place in 2128. I think it's great that those details are being touched upon; it gives great background to this futuristic world. However, my problem is that I got bored. I can't sit through an economic, political, nor science lecture without falling asleep.  Looks like I can't read several pages of this without yawning either. That's just me though. Then there's the fact that, even though it was obvious to the readers that something was going on within the government, Teeg and her friends seemed to jump to conclusions so easily. There wasn’t much planning and they just jumped headfirst into dangerous situations. I guess some parts just seemed a little...rushed.

My restlessness in regards to certain matters aside, When We Wake is a unique and thought-provking YA dystopian that I would definitely recommend! It's relatively short, so you can finish it in one sitting :)

       A massive thank you to Allen & Unwin for providing a copy of When We Wake  for review! 

I'm also giving away 3 copies of this lovely book to Australian readers. 
Click HERE for the giveaway :)


  1. I actually won a copy of this book this week, so I can't wait to read this one. Nice review!

  2. It definitely was an interesting read. Glad you enjoyed it for the most part. And don't get me started on the Father. Urggh!

  3. I actually have a pet-peeve about names that are hard to pronounce or oddly unusual. When they're weird or hard to pronounce I always pause at the name and wonder if I'm saying it right. It's such a distraction for me. Anyhow, other than that, I agree, this does sound "interesting" Not sure if it's interesting enough for me to pick up, though. The synopsis reminds me of Across the Universe. I have yet to finish that series. Lovely review Shirley. :)

  4. I just read this on Monday and my feelings for it are a lot like yours. I had a really hard time pin pointing exactly what wasn't right for me but I started with the fact that she woke up after 100 years of nothing and was running and jumping off buildings to get away. Seems like that wouldn't be possible, but maybe it's just me. Like you I did get bored just the economic and religious lectures but I think it did add a lot to the world building. Fantastic review, Shirley!

  5. I love the look of this one, and that front cover really catches my attention!

    Like Rachel in the comment above, I also hate hard to pronounce names. It's a massive distraction for me as I end up having to the name online and keep having to put the book down :P

    Wonderful review, Shirley. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. I'm going to add this to my Wishlist, as like you summed up, this seems interesting! :D <3 And the father sounds awful! x

  6. Okay, The Father is pissing me off already. Characters like that deserve a bludgeoning. I HATE strange names. Tom. George. Nick. EASY. Arkjhatadban. Irnahgajkabfjsakbfjasf. EXCUSE ME? It totally distracts from the story and makes you lose track of what's going on. I had this issue when I started watching Game of Thrones. So many characters with wacky names, lord help me!! Bah, boring lectures. Let's not go there.... I think I may give this a miss. Thanks for the review though! :)

    1. "I HATE strange names. Tom. George. Nick. EASY."

      The author deliberately does that, you realise. She makes a huge effort to *not* stay in the monoculture safe zone with characters from the same anglo-saxon background.

  7. Glad you enjoyed and liked mc, even if slightly forgettable.
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  8. I think I'd actually enjoy such detailed worldbuilding, but I'm always strange about these things. Dystopia is all about the worldbuilding for me so I don't think I have the right to complain when it becomes too detailed. :))
    I'm sorry the characters were a bit forgettable and I'm sorry you weren't blown away by this.
    I'll probably read it when the time comes.
    Great review!

  9. I always like different/weird names, I'm not sure why :p I just love it when they come up with something else. It gives me the idea they are really thinking about their story.

    It's also fun that the author created a character you really hated. It's great when they can make you feel all these things :D


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