Where are you right now? How are you reading this? On your computer? Your smart phone? Your tablet? Since we’re a blog, there’s no question that you’re “plugged in” somehow. But how often to you “unplug” from your gadgets?
The question over technology and how big a role it plays in our lives is at the very heart of the novel Awaken by Katie Kacvinsky, a lightly dystopian tale set in the not-too-distant future, in a world not that unlike our own.
Awaken tells the story of 17-year-old Maddie, whose technologically based life is shaken when she meets the mysterious Justin. Up until now, Maddie’s been fairly content living a solitary life, going to school through online “Digital School” and socializing almost entirely through the Internet. But Justin relishes the real-life, in-person interactions that most of society frown upon. Soon Maddie must decide what kind of life she really wants for herself — and if risking everything is worth making a change on the world.
Awaken is a smart story that explores a very current subject matter. Are we, as a society, becoming too plugged in? Too dependent on our gadgets? Kacvinsky smartly addresses these questions, and the debate over striking a balance with technology in our lives. Though the book presents the debate in extremes, Kacvinsky never suggests that the solution is the opposite extreme. Rather, Awaken demonstrates the benefits of balancing the perks of technology with good old-fashioned human interaction. Personally, I found the theme struck a bit too close to home for me to fully enjoy the book. But that’s simply because I prefer my fiction to be a bit more escapist, and this is really a personal preference.
By far, some of the best moments in Awaken are the action scenes — which kick off with an adrenaline-packed car chase earlier in the book. Kacvinsky has a true gift for bringing pulse-pounding, fast-paced action sequences to life. These periodic bursts of energy are cinematic and excellent at maintaining reader engagement.
Awaken is in stores now.
Here’s the official synopsis:
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.