REVIEW: Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky

Title: Awaken
Author: Katie Kacvinsky
Format: eARC
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Source: NetGalley
Published: May 23, 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.

Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.

In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.

Why I Read this Book: I saw an early review for Awaken on Kelli’s blog and the book’s premise really caught my attention. I don’t know if I would have come across this book on my own so thank you Kelli!

What I Liked: Wow, Awaken was an eye-opening read. I couldn’t help but compare our current world to the world of that in the novel, which is set in 2060. The people in the book rely heavily on technology, which most of us do now. But in the book, it’s a bit extreme. They don’t even have to go outside. Want to take a walk on the beach? They have a program for that. Want to ‘socialize’ with your friends? Holograms of your friends can appear. One big thing in the book is socializing via computers. Face-to-face communication is rare and almost deemed unnecessary.

You can go through all of DS-4 [the school system] without even looking at another person, let alone working with someone.

Can you imagine going to school, K-12th grade and even college, and never interact face-to-face with a peer or a teacher?

Some of Maddie’s thoughts were relatable, even in our own world today. 

I’m used to the security of living behind my online profiles and the clip art advertisements I create to define me. I can be whoever I want to be in that world. I can delete my flaws by pressing a button.
Sitting at home all day in front of an electric device mistaking yourself into thinking you’re living and experiencing.

Everyone is plugged in to some type of electronic device 24/7. Most of Maddie’s face-to-face conversations with her friend Erin were void of eye contact and very impersonal. It lacked any sort of intimacy. And even though it’s scary to admit, we seem to be on the road to this in some way, even if just a little bit. Ask yourself these questions: Can you unplug yourself for a day? How about a week? How much do we rely on the internet and electronic devises in our day to day lives? It’s hard to believe I survived high school without a computer or the internet. Surprised smile

Maddie parents are an odd pair. Both have strong beliefs about the technological world they live in but they are on opposite sides of the spectrum. Her father is the creator of the Digital School program and likes the way things are. He’s extremely over protective of Maddie and doesn’t trust (and understandably so). Maddie’s mom is more of a free bird. She’s believes in the outdoors and the way of the ‘old world’. While Maddie’s father was trying to digitalize society, her mom’s determined to humanize it.

For the most part, I was intrigued and liked Justin’s character. He teaches her so much and gets her thinking. The questions he asks her force her question her father’s way of life. My favorite:

“What do you do when you’re not online?”

There was quite a bit of tension between Maddie and Justin. The attraction and the chemistry were there but Justin thinks he can’t be what Maddie deserves so he tries to keep her at arm’s length.

“Maddie, this can’t happen,” he told me. “And torturing me isn’t fair.”

There were so many great, thought provoking quotes that I want to share with you but I think it has a bigger impact when you read the book for yourself.

What I Didn’t Like: The book had a very open ending and if the book were a stand alone, I would have been very dissatisfied. Thank goodness the author is planning on writing a sequel. There’s more to come for Maddie and Justin!

Overall Impression: While reading Awaken, I couldn’t help but open up my eyes and it really got me thinking. The world in Awaken is a bit extreme but it’s not too far off from where we could be. There wasn’t a dull moment in this book. It was a fascinating, yet somewhat worrisome, futuristic world.


The Book Vixen’s Rating:

4 Frogs 

*All quotes were from an ARC of this book. They may or may not appear in the final edition.

About Brianna: Supermom by day, naughty reader by night. Addicted to chocolate, Twitter, her iPad, her Kindle, and 99¢ Kindle deals. You can follow Brianna on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Instagram.


  1. I would think that it would be such a boring life..BUT if it's all you know..What a horrid world

  2. The possibilities are endless. You can do anything and everything online in this world. And people do just that. You can be at the opposite end of the world right from the comfort of you own home. However, what fun would that be? It's a completely different experience to actually be there and one with the elements.

  3. Thanks for reviewing, I'd love to read this. I am one of those people who loves new technology but gets scared everytime something brilliant comes out. Like the book... it means lesser human interaction.
    I am buying this today.

  4. Pat - I think you'll really like. Let me know what you think after you've read it.

  5. The sad part really is how close to reality this is. I may have to check this one out.


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