Jan 4, 2010

Review: Wake by Lisa McMann

 Wake by Lisa McMann 
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 224 pages (digital edition: 104)
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse (December 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416974474
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416974475
  • Source: free download from the publisher's web page
I've heard a lot about this series, but never got around to reading it, so many thanks to Lisa McMann and the publisher for this opportunity.

Janie has a gift (or curse) to get sucked into other people's dreams. As if growing up with an alcoholic mom isn't enough, she is compelled to watch her friends' sexual and dreams of falling or drowning. When it happens, she experiences a sort of a seizure, potentially dangerous for her, while she's driving, if she's not sitting down etc. She doesn't know how to stop it or control it. One day she gets caught up in a nightmare more horrible than any before. It's Caleb's nightmare; Caleb is a student from her school who has quite some secrets on his own. He has a reputation of being a drug dealer, but he has an eye for Janie. Can he be trusted? Is he saying the truth when he says that she shouldn't believe everything she hears about him? Oh, and then there's the old lady from the nursery home where Janie works. She might know something, if only she didn't pass away.

This book was just...simply...WOW. It's unique in many ways, immensely different from most of YA novels I've ever read. It takes you on a wild ride from the first page. The pacing is amazing; I felt mentally and physically tired withing the first few chapters as Janie struggles through dreams that aren't even her own. But the story just flows; once you start it there is no way back, and so I read it in several very late hours. It's the sentence structure that produces that effect: short, concise, rhythmical, almost telegraphic style of writing.

The story itself...well, let's just say it's not what makes this book memorable. It's intriguing, but not ground-breaking, though I'd like to see how it's developed in the sequels. It's the characters that just bounce off the pages, as realistic as they can be. Lisa McMann knows what teens talk like, what they do and what they think about. Speaking of which--there is quite some strong language, allusions to sex, drugs, alcohol, and probably not many parents would let their children read it, but let's face it--that's the way they talk to each other, whether we like it or not. And they are daily bombarded with the same basically everywhere so let's not split hairs about it.

The romance between Janie and Caleb worked well for me. They are not star-crossed lovers and it was interesting to follow as they fell in love with each other. The scene when Janie takes off his shirt and kisses his scars...I'll stop before I spoil too much, but it was so beautifully intense and passionate.

The 'mystery' around Caleb was a bit of a disappointment. It fell short of reaching my expectations. Somehow it almost doesn't fit into the story. But it's really not all about the plot, so disregard it.

The second book in the series, Fade, is as of today available in paperback, and the third book, Gone is coming February 9.
Visit Lisa's official webpage; there's some great stuff, like printable Wake dream-journals, avatars and other. Scroll down to the bottom of my blog and find the widget that will show you the countdown till Gone is out, take you directly to Lisa's blog (there's a great contest going on for young writers) and where you can read the first few pages of Gone. Follow Lisa on Twitter and on facebook.

Watch the trailer:

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