Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky
Copy Courtesy of NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Release Date: 5/23/2011
In 2060, the world's children take all their courses online at Digital School, which is free. Not only does School all occur online,but just about everything else does too. people rarely leave their houses. Maddie is the daughter of the head of Digital School, and she is chafing beneath the bit. A new boy named Justin comes into her life, and breaks the isolation she didn't realize she was feeling while immersed in her digital life.
The fear expressed in this book that digital life increases isolation has been voiced in many arenas, and the story takes that fear to its logical conclusion. In that sense, it is a natural feeling story, and continues in the vein of a good dystopian novel by extrapolating current fears.
Maddie's interactions within the virtual worlds and discovery of the outside world feels natural. Her relationship with Justin, and the way it grows is a lot more realistic than some of the other YA romances out there right now. I also really enjoyed the back and forth between Maddie's diary entries and what is going on around her.
My biggest concern with this story is the lack of plausibleness of the technology. It makes me sad because it mars an otherwise great story. For example, there is this machine that supposedly breaks any possible encryption, which makes no sense because encryption lengths are infinitely variable. Apparently having two of these machines opposing each other 'cancels' each other out, which also makes no sense from a technical standpoint because that's not the way encryption works.
One last example because there were a lot of other things I could point but I don't want to go too long. Maddie gets around her dad's 'fingerprint encrypted' keyboard with a mind reader, why would there be a need for a keyboard if you can just think at your computer?! /end rant (and sorry for ranting) I really wish the author had taken more time to understand and logically piece together the technology which is the basis for the entire story.
Star Rating: 3.5/5.0
For an explanation of the Star Rating go here.