Friday, October 9, 2009

Book Review: Wake by Lisa McMann

Title: Wake

Author: Lisa McMann

Pages: 210


Not all dreams are sweet.

For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people’s dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie’s seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.

She can’t tell anybody about what she does — they’d never believe her, or worse, they’d think she’s a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn’t want and can’t control.

Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else’s twisted psyche. She is a participant…

Where did I get this book (grr): The store.

Wake in one word: absorbing.

From the very first page I was pulled into Janie's story, the dreams she watches, the difficulties her life presents. Told in a clipped, third-person narrative, the story is pretty simple--Janie is pulled into people's dreams as they have them. The story itself is reletively simple as well, headed in dates instead of chapters.

Now there has been a lot of positive buzz surrounding Wake and it's sequel, Fade and I, being a sucker for hype, decided to pick it up. Not to say that I was disapointed, but it definetly was not what I was expecting.

Wake has, for lack of a better description, a roller coaster of emotions packed into two hundred and ten pages. I was happy, I was sad, I was pissed the fuck off, and then I was sad again. Seriously. I cried a little.

There really is no traditional plot or goal in Wake, focusing instead on several inter-connected storylines and Janie's effort to control this unexplainable curse. There is no information dumper, no long hours pondering the cause of Janie's episodes. I think this might be Wake's greatest achievment, stepping away from the usual "Let's Find Out" path many YA authors take these days and instead focusing on a character who is content just to deal with it, without knowing all there is to know. It's an extremly approachable story, one that is easy to read and as complicated as the cover (that is, not at all). I read it in about three hours non-stop, completly taken with Janie and Cabel.

Cabel--the strange, haunted ex-stoner/goth kid who acts as Janie's designated Love Interest--does what every YA novel boy should be doing: supporting, comforting, being protective, and generally being hawt (the 'w' is silent, FYI). I'm proud to say, though, that, even without unnecessary descriptions of exactly how hawt he is (lookin' at you, Meyer), he manages to come across as a perfectly deep, flawed, angsty-licious character without being whiney (still lookin' at you, Meyer). It's hard to seperate the spoilers from the basic facts as, again, the plot is unclear. But there are some things about Cabel, some shocking, some pretty predictable. Either way, McMann delivers all this emotion with a grace and ease that reads like the highly shined cliff notes of a far heftier, wordier novel.

The relationship between Cabel and Janie is a bit confusing. I really hadn't seen much interaction between then and, of course, they suddenly become all buddy-buddy. It felt like there was an entire missing chapter the publishers took out. Though their chemistry is undeniable, the question why still laces the last half.

The episodic narration beautifully depicts how episodic Janie's life is; she lives in between dreams, dodging drowsy students, sleepovers, any place where sleep is likely. She lives minute-by-minute, and the date and time breaks do a pretty good job at illistrating this.

We don't really know much about the minor characters--Carrie, Janie's best friend, has little personel breakthrough, besides a dream-related confession that any schmuck could've seen coming a mile away. Melinda--all we really know about her is that she's rich, hates Janie, and secretely loves Carrie. I have a feeling this might be explored upon in the next book, but for now it's just kind of an amusing yet unimportant sidenote taking second bannana to Janie and Cabel. Shay, who's father places a semi-key role in Cabel and Janie meeting (very semi), is protrayed as nothing but a territorial, obsessive sucker. Oh, and a cheerleader. Hm.

I don't know--there might be more to these characters in the Fade, but for now I'm prety convinced that their role in the novel was so unessential most of them could have just dissapeared and nothing would have happened but a few less pages.

All in all, Wake is a quick, emotionally packed read that is probably most suited for a couple hour plane ride. I will definetly be picking up Fade.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Also: New Death Cab for Cutie song. Good, 'cept it's for New Moon...bleh.


ladystorm said...

Sounds like a interesting book.

Rhiannon Hart said...

I found this one very absorbing as well. You're right about the absence of the "Let's find out" thing. I barely noticed when I was reading it but that is unusual--and rather refreshing!

Alyssa Kirk @ Teens Read and Write said...

I'm going to have to think about this one. Excellent review!

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