Awaken

Awaken

by Katie Kacvinsky

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547721989
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 04/17/2012
Series: Awaken Series , #1
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 191,217
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile: HL700L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Katie Kacvinsky worked as a model and as a high school English teacher before deciding to write full time. She currently lives in Corvallis, Oregon. The trees in Oregon were the inspiration for her story. Awaken is her debut novel.

Read an Excerpt

May 7, 2060

My mom gave me an old leather-bound journal for my seventeenth
birthday. At first the blank pages surprised me, as if the story inside
was lost or had slipped out. She explained sometimes the story is
supposed to be missing because it’s still waiting to be written. Leave
it to my mom to give me something from the past to use in the
future.
 They don’t make paper books anymore—it’s illegal to chop down
real trees. They still grow in some parts of the world, but I’ve never
seen one. Most cities have switched to synthetic trees, and people
prefer them to the living ones. Synthetic trees come shipped to your
house in any size you want, so you don’t have to wait fifteen years for
them to grow. Now you shop online and choose your desired size and
height, and in days you have a full-grown tree in your yard, cemented
into the ground and supported with steel beams anchored
into the base. Instant. Simple. No fuss.
 Synthetic trees never die. They don’t wither in the fall. You don’t
have a mess of leaves and needles to sweep up. They’re fireproof. They
don’t cause allergies. And they’re always perfectly green (constantlygreen
.com has the best synthetic tree selection, according to my mom). The
leaves can fade a little from the sun, but you just spray-paint them
green again. During Halloween, people spray-paint the leaves on
their trees yellow, orange, and red. It’s the colors leaves used to turn
before they fell to the ground. My mom said she can remember seeing
the fall colors when she was young. She said it was the most beautiful
time of the year. It’s hard to imagine anything becoming beautiful
as it dies. Then again, it’s hard to imagine much that Mom 
insists used to “be.”
 When trees were dying offin fires and overharvested, books were
the first to go. These days books are downloaded digitally and you
can order any book you want to be uploaded into your Bookbag in
seconds, which I convert onto my Zipfeed. It reads the words out
loud to me on my computer. Simple. Convenient. I know how to
read, of course. We learn it in Digital School 2. I still read my chat
messages on my phone. But it was proven that audio learning is a
faster way to retain information, according to some Ph.D. researchers
who studied rats in a cage. By observing rats they figured out the
best way for humans to learn. Some politician thought this theory
sounded glamorous, so they changed a law that changed the world.
That’s why I listen to almost all of my books.
 I didn’t escape the chore of using my eyes to read. Mom still
enforces it. She saved all her old novels and stores them in these
wooden cabinets with glass doors called bookshelves. Every year she
hands down a few of her favorites to me. I have a collection slowly
building in my bedroom. I have to admit, I like the look of them. I
also like to escape inside their world, tucked behind their colorful
spines. It forces me to fully invest my mind into what I’m doing, not
just my ears or my eyes. I think barricading them behind glass is a
little obsessive, but Mom says the paper in books will yellow if they’re
exposed to air. Just like the leaves on the trees that couldn’t survive in
this world. Hey, if you can’t acclimate, you disintegrate. I learned
that in Digital School 3.
 So, you can imagine my surprise when my mom gave me a blank
book. I rarely see a book with print in it, and now a blank one—what
a waste. No wonder we killed all the trees. And I’m supposed to
write in this thing. Longhand. It’s this form of writing using ink on
paper. It’s so slow! It makes me laugh watching people do it in old
movies. It hasn’t been used in twenty years. We learn it in school, but
it’s simulated on our flipscreens. Only specialty online stores sell ink
pens, but leave it to my mom to invest in this historic item. “Madeline,”
she told me, “it’s good for you to write down your thoughts.
It’s therapeutic because it forces you to slow down and think about
life.”
 I feel guilty writing on this paper, staining something with words
when maybe it’s their emptiness, the fact that they’re unscathed, that’s
more interesting than anything I have to say. My life is far from
remarkable. Sadly, it’s the other extreme. It is predictable. Controlled.
Mandated. Paved out for me in a trail I’m forced to follow.
 Why should I take the time to write down my thoughts when no
one else can even read them? I’m used to millions of people having
access to everything about me. I’m used to a fountain of feedback
and comments trailing every entry I type, every thought I expose.
That makes me feel justified. It shows that people genuinely care
about me. It reminds me that I’m real and I exist. Why try to hide it
all in a book? Besides, there are no secrets. Sooner or later, the truth
always leaks out. That’s one thing I’ve learned in this life.

1
Chapter one

I pulled a sweatshirt over my head, and just as I opened my bedroom
door, I was distracted by a red light flashing on my computer.
I was running late, but the glow of the light caught my
attention and held me in place like a net. I programmed my screen
to flash different colors depending on who was calling. I knew red
could only mean one person. I sat down and tapped the light with
my finger and a single white sentence dissolved on the screen.
 Are you going to be there tonight?
 I read Justin’s question and bit my lips together. My mind told
me to say no. That answer would please my father. He trained me
to squeeze my thoughts through a filter so my decisions came out
acceptable and obedient. But lately it was making me feel weak,
like my mind wasn’t reallymine
anymore, just a program to manipulate.
That’s why this time, I was tempted to say yes.
 I met Justin two months ago on TutorPage—it’s
a live chatroom
for students to get help on homework assignments. We were both
stuck on writing a thesis sentence for our literary analysis paper, a
requirement in Digital School 4. Since the tutor was being swarmed
with questions and Justin and I had the same problem, we figured
it out together. I remember him writing the oddest comment that
day. He wrote, “Two brains are better than one.” It was strange
because you can go through all of DS-4 without even looking at
another person, let alone working with someone. One of the perks
to a digital life is it forces you to be independent.
 Justin and I coordinated to study two days a week together and
then he started sending me invites to face-to-face tutor sessions
held in downtown Corvallis. When he assured me the groups were
small, but could be helpful, I still dreaded the idea of meeting him
in public. 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 be funny, deep, pensive,
eccentric. I can be the best version of myself. Better yet, an exaggeration
of the best version of myself. I can make all the right decisions.
I can delete my flaws by pressing a button.
 In the real world anything can happen. It’s like stepping onto
an icy surface—you have to adjust your footing or you’ll slip and
fall. Your movements become rigid and unsure because behind all
the fancy gadgets and all that digital armor, you realize you’re
just flesh and bones.
 I stared back at the screen where his words floated patiently
and a strange feeling, like a shot of adrenaline, pushed through
my blood. I knew I had to meet him tonight. Intuition works
closely alongside fate, like they’re business partners working together
to alter the course of your life.
 I spoke my answer out loud and my voice was automatically
converted into a digital message.
 I decided maybe was the best response, just in case I lost my
nerve. I hit send and a second later he responded.
 Life is too short to say maybe.
 I narrowed my eyes at the screen. Why was he pushing this? Why
couldn’t he let me be noncommittal and leave me alone about it?
 Why are you going out of your way to meet me? I asked.
 Why are you going out of your way to avoid it?
 I’ve been grounded for a while. I hesitated before I hit send. I’d
never opened up to Justin about my personal life. We always kept
our relationship safe—bobbing just on the surface.
 A while? As in a few weeks? he asked.
 I laughed, but it came out sounding flat and humorless. Try
two and a half years, I thought. I decided he didn’t need to know
this detail. It’s easy to delete the truth when you live behind your
own permanent censor.
 Something like that, I said.
 What did you do?
 I have a rebellious streak.
 That’s a little vague, he said.
 I frowned at the screen. I’m not going to dish out my life story to
an online stranger.
 Then I think it’s about time we meet, he said.
 I bit my nails when this sentence appeared. I focused on the
words. They sounded so simple. But just when I believed something
was simple, there was always more lurking underneath.
 I’ll be there, I said, and hit send before I could change my mind.
 I hopped out of the chair, grabbed my soccer cleats, and ran
downstairs to the kitchen. Dad glanced at me from the table where
he was reading the news on our wall screen. My mom sat next to
him, reading a magazine—she insists on having the hard copy,
printed on plastic paper. She’s the only person I know who complains
that computer screens hurt her eyes.
 Dad examined the shoes I was holding with disapproval.
 “I thought your season was over,” he said.
 I felt my hands tighten around the shoes and I kept my eyes
focused steadily on his. We had the same large, penetrating eyes,
the color of swirling gray clouds with flecks of green floating
near the pupils. When my dad was angry, his eyes turned as
dark as storm clouds just before they erupt into a downpour.
He could use his eyes to intimidate, to persuade, or to demand
respect. I hadn’t mastered those traits; my eyes only seemed to give
me away.
 “The league goes year-round,” Mom pointed out to him.
 He leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest.
 “Did we talk about you playing soccer year-round, Maddie? I
thought you were just playing fall and winter leagues.”
 I kept my eyes locked on his. He tried too often to make me
duck under his discipline. Baley, our chocolate Lab, wagged her
tail next to me and I bent down to scratch her ears.
 “The spring league just started,” I said. “It’s only once a week.
I didn’t think it was a big deal.”
 “It’s a little expensive,” he said.
 I tried not to roll my eyes since I knew my dad made more
money than ten families would know what to do with, being the
director of Digital School, Inc. The curriculum, medium, and
content of what I learned—and where and when I learned it—was
overseen and instituted by the signature of my father’s hand.
It was also his power and connections that got me in trouble two
and a half years ago and created the constant rift of distrust in our
relationship. Half of the time he didn’t seem like a father to me,
more like security enforcement.
 “She’s seventeen, Kevin,” Mom said. “Didn’t we agree to let
her socialize more often?” I stared between them and tightened
my lips. I hated it when they talked about me like I wasn’t standing
in the same room, like I’m a piece of clay they have to mold in
order to hold a shape.
 “I guess you’re right,” he finally agreed.
 I nodded once and thanked him. I raced out the front door and
ran down the sidewalk to try and catch the train. The air was warm
and the sun was finally making its spring entrance, after a long
winter of hibernation. Rays of light peered through the branches
above me and painted a splattering of bright and dull colors on the
turf grass below. The tower of green leaves crinkled in the breeze as
I passed. I met the train just as it pulled to a stop on Hamersley
Street. I jumped on and scanned my fingerprint against a tiny
screen as the doors beeped shut behind me.
 Erin sat by the window in the back of the compartment. She
was watching something on her phone and nodding her head to
the music floating out of the speakers.
 “Hey,” I said, and plopped down in the seat next to her. I took
my phone out of my pocket to check a message.
 “You almost missed the train,” she said without looking up.
“That’s not like you.”
 I was distracted by a digital advertisement playing on a screen
inside the compartment. A middle-aged man dressed in khaki
shorts and a white T-shirt promised me I could transform my entire
lawn into a colorful flower garden in five easy steps. I watched
him roll out a thick carpeting of plastic grass speckled with fake
flowers and staple it into the ground.
 “Why were you late?” Erin asked.
 “My dad wanted to have a little chat,” I said.
 She smirked and pressed a few buttons on her keypad.
“What now?”
 I tapped my foot restlessly against the rubber floor mat. “Oh,
he just needs reassurance he’s in complete control of every facet of
my life.”
 Erin creased her eyebrows and continued to type. “He doesn’t
trust you to play soccer?” she asked.
 I shrugged. “It’s unsupervised, it’s liberating,” I reminded her.
“He hates that.”
 When the train slowed to our stop, we jumped offand crossed
the sidewalk to the turf soccer fields. I heard whistling in the distance
and Erin and I looked up to see a small school of black birds
soaring overhead. Their small inky bodies formed a moving arrow
in the sky, like a kite with no strings attached to reel it back down
to the ground. Seeing birds in the city was rare, since all the trees
and gardens were synthetic, but once in a while they passed through
and I always took it as a sign that something exceptional was about
to happen.
 I looked down at the dark outline of a bird tattooed on the
inside of my wrist, where the skin is delicate and the veins are
thick. I ran my finger along its outstretched wings and smiled.
Every time I looked at my tattoo I was reminded of the person I
wanted to be. Someone that’s free to move. Someone that’s too
spirited to be caged in.
 Erin and I sat down on the grass to stretch. We were the only
two players that showed up early for practice every week.
 “So, are you meeting Justin tonight?” she asked me with a grin.
I frowned to show her, for the tenth time, it was not a date.
 “It’s just a study group,” I reminded her.
 Her phone beeped and she started typing a message. “Do you
know what he looks like?”
 I shook my head and told her we both used face-free chatting.
I never revealed my real picture online. Now that I thought about
it, most of my contacts (or friends as some people refer to them)
didn’t even know what I looked like. They saw cartoons, photographs,
and clip art images that illustrated the idea of me.
 “We never get personal,” I told her. “I don’t know anything
about him except he has trouble writing thesis statements and conclusion
paragraphs. He doesn’t even know my real name,” I added
with a grin.
 Erin set her phone down and met my eyes for the first time
today. “You created a fake profile for a tutor site? Why bother?”
 I shrugged and stretched my legs. “I want privacy,” I told her.
“My dad’s practically a celebrity, but I don’t want people to assume
just because I’m his daughter I agree with everything he’s
doing. Besides, I never expected to meet Justin in person. I figured
we’d study for a few classes and be done.”
 She shook her head with amusement. “Does he even know
you’re a girl?” she asked.
 I couldn’t help but smile. “I guess we’ll find out.”

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Fans of Oliver’s Delirium will appreciate this story of a girl subverting social strictures through forbidden relationships, but the wild chase scenes and richly developed characters make it a sure sell across the board."—BCCB "This book could not have been more perfect."—Kaci Carpenter, teen YALSA reviewer

Customer Reviews

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Awaken 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 116 reviews.
Juliene Craig More than 1 year ago
I've read this book but god, these peopke need to stop writing paragraphs of reviews! Basically writing the whole story and ruining it for people! Keep it short and simple yet make your point.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Come people enough with the book reports already
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a breath of fresh air in all the books I have read that have the same old sin,passion.bloody,biting,,killling & brainless fairy tale magical crap. I LOVE this NEW take on a world in the future with the feeling of a real & exciting scenario. People working together......YES! READ THIS BOOK!
Miss-Lis More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. I whisked through the pages so quickly, it was over before I knew it. I felt an immediate sense of loss not being able to go further with the characters. I cannot wait to see what else she has in store for Maddie and Justin. I truly hope there is more to this story...and soon!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Okay well I can't really explain how much I liked this book! It was totally awsome. I'm the kind of person who likes romance and also likes action stuff! If you are like me then i really recomend this book to you. I guarantee that you will love it and if you don't, then that is because you don't see the whole picture or understand the book well. I cannot wait to read the next book, Middle Ground! -Elizabeth
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Way better than I expected ...I loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorites.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is an interesting book to read that makes you think about our future with technology.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely loved this book.  Scary to think this could really happen one day in the not to distant future.  Good read for teens and adults.  Enjoy!
Suzie_Beth17 More than 1 year ago
loved it! unfortunately this could very well happen today
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books ever
GraceLA More than 1 year ago
WOW I ABSOLUTELY Loved THIS BOOK! highly recommend it!
nbmars on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Even though this story takes place in 2060, I didn¿t really consider it to be a full-fledged dystopia ¿ more like a "dystopia lite." Society is still recognizable but is an exaggerated form of our current reality. Online social media encounters have largely replaced face-to-face social interaction. Even schooling is conducted online. This enables all children, no matter what race and class, to receive a quality education. Moreover, because there are no more [brick-and-mortar] schools, teenage violence is at an all-time low, as are teenage drug use and pregnancy. Some people, however, are dissatisfied. They feel that quality of life has suffered from the ¿emptiness¿ of digital life compared to the richness of reality. They advocate being in the actual presence of others, rather than having interactions mediated by electronic devices. Ominously, those caught protesting are sent to detention centers until they are deemed ¿safe¿ to go back into society. No one knows exactly what that means, but it doesn¿t sound good.Maddie Freeman, age 17, is torn. Her father is the inventor and CEO of Digital School. But Maddie has a rebellious streak, and wonders if ¿there was more to life than a pixelated curtain.¿ The fact that she had been grounded for two years (except for soccer and academic-related activities) doesn¿t help her attitude. Then, she receives a dare to be seen in real life at a face-time study group, and she goes. There she meets Justin, age 20, the deliverer of the dare, who turns out to be tall, athletic, and hot, hot, hot. You can guess where this is going. But it¿s a bit different in that Maddie, reputedly ¿gorgeous,¿ is 17 and never been kissed. Her whole social life has been conducted online, where kissing doesn¿t happen. And when it does? "Kissing is its own kind of collision, it produces its own planetarium of lights inside your head. For me, it was seeing colors for the first time after living in a black-and-white world. A single person can be just as wide and vast and spellbinding as any sky full of stars. They can make you think the world stops and night can last forever.¿But Justin is one of the social dissidents, and hanging out with him gets Maddie a detention sentence. Will she be the same person when she returns, if she survives the experience? Discussion: Justin¿s family, part of an ¿old-fashioned¿ community, is juxtaposed to Maddie¿s, in which everything is digital, plastic, and instantaneous. Maddie¿s dad is convinced that ¿solitude breeds peace.¿ Justin, on the other hand, contends that staying ¿tucked safely behind¿locked doors is not the answer to human problems. It only conceals the problem¿it doesn¿t fix it.¿ Maddie comes to believe that expressing herself using arbitrary avatars and having access to a delete button may be easier than authentic communication but it isn¿t really honest. She also discovers that there are so many other effective ways to convey feelings besides just words. So there are a lot of thought-provoking issues to consider in this first volume of a projected trilogy.Evaluation: What makes this book interesting is that it isn¿t so removed from our current reality, and seems like an actual possibility for our near-term future. This would make a great discussion book for teens in order to consider the consequences of their digital dependency. And there is lots of good ¿swoony¿ kissing to keep them interested.
AngelaFristoe on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was really impressed by this book. There's a sea of dystopian novels out there right now, and a lot of them tend to remind me of one another. There's heavy, and depressing worlds where people aren't safe alone and there's some vague references to a war, but Awaken take on a more realistic approach. After terrorist attacks hit a number of schools across the country, killing thousands of children, the country goes into a lock down on their children, instituting an online school program that is mandatory for all children.What I love about Maddie is that she's not drawn into a rebellion by Justin, even though he's definitely on a mission to get her to join him. And when Maddie finds out exactly who he is, she's angry and hurt. But unlike so many romance driven dystopians she doesn't go out and make rash decisions, or more importantly stupid decisions. She goes into everything with her eyes wide open.The ending was not what I expected and that made the story even stronger. This is the first in a series, and I am definitely interested in what happens to Maddie and Justin, but even if it wasn't I'd be satisfied with how Kacvinsky finished the book.
Jibar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I started this book in the beginning of June and then kind of got annoyed with it and left to read another book. I decided to finish it a few days ago, and the ending really changed my opinion of the book. For me, the beginning was just drab and not what I expected it to be. In fact, the whole novel wasn't. I was expecting some world in which people where even more invested in computers.What I did like was the romance between Madeline and Justin. It felt very real to me and I liked reading about every single doubt they had. And even though Maddie's brother Joe is a very minor character, I found him very likeable, too.The world is consistently built, I suppose. Everything has a reason of existence, and the characters are well thought out, especially Madeline's parents. I'm still missing an antagonist to like, really. Because I hate Maddie's Dad, but not with an antagonist-passion, if you know what I mean. But since this is the first book of the Awaken Series, there is probably still something to come.S0 while I was a little disappointed with the world itseld, the plot was well thought out and the action was written very well. If you see it somewhere, you should go pick it up.
Bibliotropic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Katie Kacvinsky wove an interesting vision of the future that reads like a highly entertaining cautionary tale of relying too much on technology and online communication, with more than a hint of rebellion against the concept of "we know what's best for you," and a hefty dose of trying to find a balance. This appealed to me in particular since I myself walk a rather fine line between making use of online communication and striving to find a greater connection with the physical world around me. It isn't an easy line to walk, as Maddie discovers over the course of this novel.The world in Awakened is compelling and interesting, and the bulk of the novel involves a fight against Digital School, which, in essence, is homeschooling 2.0. Students take classes from the comfort of their own homes, connected to other students via their computers, sending their work for evaluation to teachers whom they never actually meet. It's effective in protecting children from the dangers of the outside world, violence and misery and accidents, but also effective in cutting everyone off from human contact, limiting them in myriad ways. There's a sinister undercurrent to this: the creator of Digital School, also Maddie's father, seeks to quell the rebellion against his creation, and how better to do that than to make sure people are kept apart, their interactions kept solely online where Big Brother can monitor.It isn't scary in the way that a horror novel would define the word. It's scary in its subtleties, the way that sort of thinking permeates life, the way we can see the seeds of that future growing in our own society. You, reading this right now, have likely only ever interacted with me by typing words to me, never spoken to me, never seen me, and how easy is it to think that that's exactly how it should be?Slippery slope arguments are often invalidated, but so fascinating to consider the consequences of.Kacvinsky does a great job of building characters as real as the world around them, giving them layers, quirks, foibles, difficulties to overcome that aren't always handled neatly and concisely. The romance between Maddie and Justin, for example, is the sort of "on again off again" relationship that frustrates me to no end when I see it in books, but as a counter to that, it's frustrating to the characters, too. The defenses they put up are logical, their arguments not always logical, their feelings often illogical.Just the way real life works.The author hasn't just stepped onto the YA stage here, she's fairly danced gracefully onto it. I eagerly look forward to what she's going to write in the future, and I hope it'll be as interesting as what she's done here. This book comes highly recommended to those who enjoy a good dystopian YA novel.
BornBookish on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was AMAZING! Definitely one of my favorite dystopian novels ever! The author did such a great job at creating a futuristic world that is completely driven by technology and completely believable. She painted this world so vividly across the pages that I really felt like I was there, living the story alongside the characters.All the characters in this book, from the main ones to the ones who only played minor roles, were all such strong characters. Maddie is such an incredible leading lady. She is strong, confident, brave, and beautiful, the best part is that she doesn¿t even realize it. She possesses all these qualities but isn¿t all cocky about it, she doesn¿t even see these qualities in herself until others point them out. Of course there is also Justin, the totally incredible leading male. Justin is strong, brave, sweet, protective, the list could go on and on, or I could just sum it up by saying that he is one of my all time favorite YA leading male characters ever. I have to admit that as much as a loved this book, it wasn't love at first sight. It took me a little while to get sucked into the story, but once I was, you would have had to pry that book from my fingers with the jaws of life to make me stop reading. Needless to say I¿m sitting on pins and needles waiting for the sequel (a.k.a. Middle Ground) to come out in late 2012. My only wish is that it would come out sooner!
edenjean on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Awaken" is a near future dystopian coming of age and love story. Once I finished the first chapter I could not put it down. Madeline Freeman, the protagonist, is the daughter of the founder of Digital School, an institution developed to combat the escalating violence among youth in the mid Twentieth Century. As a school principal who saw far too many deaths in his own school, Mr. Freeman took it upon himself to solve the nation's problem. He did so by creating a system of computerized schooling programs, which began as optional alternatives to dangerous public and private schools. Soon the decision-makers in each state saw Digital School as a panacea and passed mandatory attendance laws, at first for the elementary level, and later for middle and high school as well. The novel begins with Maddie, and insightful descriptions of her daily life as a member of the new digital society, in which people no longer need to go out into the dangerous world to attend school, go shopping, meet new friends, go on dates, climb mountains, or walk on the beach. Everything is done digitally, through systems developed after the advent of Digital School. Maddie knows nothing but the virtual world she is accustomed too, and so when she meets Justin at a real world study group she is shocked at his affinity for face to face interactions. The intrinsic contrast in worldview, mannerisms, and dialogue between Madeline and Justin sets the tone for the rest of the novel. Their dichotomy reflects the divide in public opinion about the digital world. The dialogue and conversation between Justin's group of revolutionaries and Maddie's enculturated worldview creates a constant stream of questions in the reader's mind: What is wrong about Digital School? How do I depend on technology? Do I see myself in Maddie? In Justin? Do I agree with the CEO of Digital School? Do I agree with the revolutionaries? Do I approve of their methods of protesting? How is my life like that of Maddie's or Justin's?Kacvinsky's first novel is a successful analysis of the dependence modern humans have on technology as well as a fascinating speculation on how technology could change the nature of our culture, and our lives. Generally appropriate for ages thirteen to nineteen, there are relatively few descriptions of violence, none of which are graphic. Several scenes of low-level intimacy between Justin and Maddie create a delightful love story, but may be too advanced for readers below the age of fifteen.
readingbeader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As I read this novel set in a world where people interact mostly behind their computer screens, it was hard not to notice the irony of reading an electronic ARC on my Kindle. Everyone goes to digital school through their home computers to keep them safe from bullies, shooters, and other crimes. Madeline has lived this way for years, with the last few years being even more isolated because of being ¿grounded¿ for something she did that caused her to lose her father¿s trust. When she meets Justin at a study group (face to face) he causes her to finally question the life she¿d taken for granted. Madeline¿s growth is pretty quick and she accepts things easily that I thought should have taken longer, but that could be because she is a ¿rebellious¿ teenager. I wish her parents were more fleshed out¿I don¿t understand why they are still married anymore than she does. Maybe in the next book, we¿ll get more of their story. There is definitely more to come; several issues are still unresolved: the upcoming nationwide vote on the digital school, Justin¿s distancing himself from Madeline, and which side she will choose when she turns 18. I am interested, and plan to follow the story through.
BooksforCompany on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This isn¿t a book l would usually pick up from looking at the cover but after seeing this around a few blogs and reading the blurb l was straight away drawn to this book. It sounds like an unique read but l did feel it could go wrong if it got too unrealistic.I didn¿t feel this book got too unrealistic in the way of how things are in the future but l did feel some interactions between the characters felt `fake¿. For example l felt some relationships grew too quickly for how things really would, especially for people who are meant to never have face to face conversations. That said, l did really enjoy this book. I wouldn¿t say this is a fast paced book but the story line was very intriguing, never knowing what was going to happen next with the characters relationships with each other and also where the story line was going. This book introduces you to a whole new world which feels very real, the author has done a great job of putting in things which already exist in this world mixed which things that don¿t. This makes it all much more believable and gives you the chance to make your own opinion on the things which the author seems to `discuss¿ with the reader.My over all opinion of this book is it¿s a great read with a unique story line, l enjoyed reading about the different characters. I found Justin a very interesting character and wished his point of view could of been included.Thanks Netgalley/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
seescootread on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hmm, well I was not all that impressed with this book. I feel like the author had a great concept, but didn¿t really do much with it. At times the adventure was great and the digitally minded dystopian world seemed pretty believable. However, I feel this book was all a build-up to ... nothing. Or the second novel if there is going to be one. The main character Maddie did go through a lot of development as she learned that life in a digital world is not a real life. Yet, I still had the feeling of something missing. The story is told from Maddie¿s perspective and is at times interspaced with her hand-written journal entries. The journal entries felt out of place, they didn¿t flow well with the story. On the plus side I liked Justin, and his slowly building romance with Maddie didn¿t seem forced. It was really sweet, and some of their scenes together were perfectly placed and written. I also love the cover art for this book! Awaken is an interesting read, but not one that I would be in any rush to purchase.
bookwormygirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The world you'll find in the pages of Awaken is not as far fetched as you'd think. Which, quite frankly, makes it a very scary world. Imagine not having the need to leave your home. You go to school online. Talk to your friends online. Watch favorite tv shows, the news, or even read books online. You can even go on a virtual date online. Why bother leaving your home - when you are doing all this in the safety and comfort of your home. It doesn't matter what you're wearing or how you look. You are an avatar. You can do anything you want to do and be anyone you want to be. It's the perfect world... or is it?Maddie has been content living her life in the digital world. After the incident a few years ago (when she was going through that rebellious phase that threatened to tear her family apart) she has been more than happy to lay low and live the way her father wants her to. But then she meets Justin Solvi. Justin who questions everything she believes in. Who convinces her that living behind a computer is not living at all. I loved this book! I especially loved that it seemed a very realistic fate for humankind. My favorite type of dystopia, I might add. The year is 2060, not so very far down the line, and I can definitely see a world where computers are at its forefront. I mean 15 years ago who would have thought we would be where we are now when it comes to electronics and the world wide web. Just think how much time we normally spend in front of our computers. My job has me sitting in front of a computer 7 hours - plus at least 1 to 2 hours at home on week nights... and then there are the countless hours on our phones, iPads, etc. I don't know about you, but I'm definitely hooked. This book really gets you thinking.Obviously, I am a fan of the world building. Putting that aside, I also really enjoyed the characters. The interactions between Maddie and Justin were enjoyable. I loved how their relationship develops slowly throughout the story. Even though I had a few moments where I didn't trust Justin (his interest in Maddie seemed too much about "the better good", as well as he had this terrorist vibe to him), but little by little he grew on me and I ended up really liking him. I also really liked the push and pull between those who believed in being "digitalized" and those who wanted more human interaction. As the reader, you are conflicted because both sides have some very interesting points. It's not all good vs. evil or black vs. white. I really found it thought provoking and it surely had me thinking about it long after I was done with it. I'm not sure if this is a stand alone... I guess it can be, but I feel that we need more closure. I truly hope that there is more to come. Either way, Ms. Kacvinsky is definitely an author you'll want to keep an eye out for. All in all, I found Awaken to be a very powerful story, with three dimensional characters, action, suspense and romance. A very worthy read and one that I highly recommend.
Kritik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Awaken, a dystopian novel based in 2060. Where technology has now dominated the lives of everyone to the point where individuals spend 95% less communicating face to face. Crime, Teenage Pregnancy, Crime Rates and other issues have been reduced almost completely all because of Digital School and the advancement in technology. But at what cost? Madeline Freeman is used to this lifestyle. Chatting with hundreds of people online every day without any worries. But she feels as if something is missing from her life.Then she meets Justin who teaches her the world outside technology and Madeline begins to see how much humans have enclosed themselves in their own little worlds. In this Novel, Madeline begins struggles on whether to fight for what she believes to be right or to hurt those she loves. I really like this plot. As I look at the 21st century, a future such as the one in Awaken seems to be more realistic every day. I felt like I could really relate to Madeline and her transition from an enclosed lifestyle to a more open environment without technology. Her struggle to do whats right also made me reflect to myself many times in the book where I asked myself 'Is technology really beneficial to us all?' Of course even today we face similar conflicts that we see in Awaken such as how much time we let technology dominate our lives and how much face to face interaction we actually do.Overall decision- I did find the story a little slow paced for me. Other than deciding whether she wants to fight with or against her father and a romantic struggle with Justin, Madeline didn't really have much to do. Of course, I love some romance in my books but I felt this book was more romantic and distracted me from what it was really about. But I still enjoyed reading it and from the ending I can tell there'll definitely be a sequel and i'll be waiting for it.So I recommend this to anyone who's into dystopian novels. If your looking for anything action packed then don't look here because as I said before, the story can get a little slow. But I will definitely buy this once it hits the stores.
BookAddictDiary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Set in a world of fear, technology and violence, a book like Awaken has incredible relevance -so much that it's almost scary. The world of Awaken strikes a frighten vibe with readers, as the creepy, technology-laden, isolated future painted in this novel feels like an incredibly plausible future in the real world. Without bothering to sugar-coat things, Awaken tackles very real issues that tend to get swept under the rug -or virtually ignored -in our world today.In Awaken, Maddie's world is one of computers, digital school, constant electronic distraction and, most importantly, the lack of real human connection and fear of other people. Maddie has spent much of her life attending digital school, chatting with friends she's never met in person, and, most importantly, hiding behind her false online profiles. Then, one day in digital school, she begins speaking to a strange boy named Justin. As Maddie gets to know Justin online, he convinces her to meet him in person, and Maddie is forced out into the real world. But Justin isn't like most people in this world. Rather than spending his life behind a computer screen, Justin prefers to experience life for real and introduces these experiences to Maddie, who begins to awaken to real life.The messages of Awaken truly resonated with me. The whole theme about people preferring to hide behind computer schools and online profiles, rather than conversing in real life, has becoming a highly common occurance, especially with the prevelance of Facebook and Twitter. Then's there's the inevitable related element where people are constantly in front of electronic devices (kind of Fahrenheit 451-like) and pay more attention to them than to the other people in their lives...even family. But for me, when Awaken explained the reasoning behind the creation of digital school -school shootings, out of control violence, the fear that people can never be safe -hits home in a bone-chilling way.The rest of Awaken was pretty good. It's a well-constructed dystopia with enjoyable characters that keep me enthralled until the very end. However, there were a few small things that bothered me. The plot was a little predictable, and I thought the ending sputtered out a little bit, but overall, an enjoyable read with some fascinating, yet frightening speculation about the future.
renkellym on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summary: Maddie lives in a world overrun with technology. There¿s no need to interact with other humans anymore thanks to her dad¿s revolutionary invention¿Digital School. But when Maddie meets Justin, a boy who still values face-to-face contact, she learns that there¿s more to the world than touch screens and chatrooms.My thoughts: Awaken brings a poignant question to the table¿is technology doing us more harm than good? This message is conveyed almost entirely through Maddie¿s questioning of the world around her and through the actions of those against Digital School. Thankfully, this means that Awaken doesn¿t come off as preachy¿it makes you think rather than trying to forcefully change your opinion.Story-wise, Awaken was a bit slow. Maddie¿s narration just didn¿t grab my attention well enough; it was easy to put the book down to do something else. Though the premise is certainly interesting¿it¿s easy to see how the society in Awaken could be a possible future for us¿I found it difficult to get into.The characters in Awaken were likable and fun. Maddie¿s stubbornness and drive to escape her father¿s legacy were the qualities I most admired in her. Justin, the rebel boy, was also interesting¿there is more to him than initially meets the eye, which was a breath of fresh air. The two had really great chemistry together, and I was really happy with the way their relationship turned out.While I wouldn¿t consider Awaken to be the best dystopian ever, I still think it¿s a solid contribution to the genre. The story¿s a bit slow, but the questions it brings up about technology and the characters make up for it.