Book Review: Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

In the year 2060, everything is done digitally. Kids no longer go to schools. They stay home and take classes online. Adults work from home, too. Even dating is no longer done in person. Why walk on a real beach when you can stroll down a digitally remastered one instead? No bad weather, no seagulls, nothing real to ruin a perfectly fine time.

Though she's grown up in this digital world, something about being cut off from everyone doesn't sit right with seventeen-year-old Madeline. Her favorite activity--the only one she does off line--is soccer. She likes the physicality of it and the comradery with the other girls.

Then she meets Justin. He, too, prefers life off line. It's all he talks about. He even takes her out to a real coffee shop and an underground club. Maybe it's his attentiveness, or the physical closeness of actually being with someone, or just that he's very good looking, Madie is definitely drawn to him. But there's also something very aloof about him, like perhaps he's hiding something.

When Madie uncovers the truth, she's faced with the question: What's more important, fighting for what you believe in or love?
Release Date:  May 23, 2011
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin
Age Group:  Young Adult
Pages:  352
Source:  NetGalley

Dystopia is one of my favorite YA sub-genres to read, and Awaken was a great example of why I like this genre so much.  Kacvinsky takes aspects of our current society, and expands them in such a way that the events that unfold in Awaken are totally believable.  I found myself afraid that my kids will miss out on the world I experienced growing up, due to our society's digital trend.

Awaken's main theme is digital school.  Because of school shootings, bombings and a rise in violence, in the year 2060 everyone goes to school digitally.  Maddie's father invented digital school, and while Maddie is unsatisfied with her secluded, face-to-face interaction-free life, any protests against the digital school regime are not tolerated at home.

In Kacvinsky's world, everything is digital: school, dating, work, even exercise.  Wood and fires have been outlawed and there is no vegetation to be had.  All the trees, grass, and flowers are plastic and food is not grown fresh: it's all genetically engineered. 

Maddie meets Justin online and he introduces her to a whole new world: real food, a dance club, and new friends she talks with in person.  Maddie becomes more and more unsatisfied with her digital life and she starts to rebel. 

I would recommend Awaken to fans of YA and dystopia.  I got the biggest urge to "unplug" and really appreciate the world around me when I finished reading this book.  I think we all need to be reminded to stop and smell the roses and appreciate the world every day!

Just One Gripe:
Madie puts too much of herself into her relationship with Justin.  A couple of times, I felt like being with him was all she cared about.

The Best Thing About This Book:
The world-building was superb.

Appropriate for a younger audience:

Characters: 4/5
Plot: 3/5
Setting/Imagery: 4/5
Originality: 4/5
Ending: 4/5
Total Score:  19/25


  1. You've taken something I may have passed up and made me certain I need to pick it up asap! Thank you! FAB review!

  2. So glad to hear you loved this one! I've seen it on netgalley, and I've considered requesting it, but I really wanted to see a review first. I love dystopian, and this sounds incredible. Great review! :)

  3. This sounds really interesting, Kelli. I think I'll go ahead and request it on Netgalley. Thanks!

  4. I had not heard of this book until I read your review. I'm definitely going to put this on my TBR list! I love YA Dystopia :)

  5. Sounds really good! I have noticed a trend in YA where the girl meets the boy and completely falls at his feet, forgetting that the world around her exists, but hey, that happens! Great review, as always. I'll add this to my list! :)

  6. Great review! I'm looking forward to reading this one. Love dysptopian novels. Your feelings about this book are the same when I read The Other Side of the Island. I really started to take a closer look at the world around me.

  7. I'll add this on since the review made me think how it's something not to be missed. Another A+ review and will add it on to the TBR list.


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