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A Reader of Fictions: A Strange Education - The Cinematics

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Strange Education - The Cinematics

Awaken, Book 1

Author: Katie Kacvinsky
ARC Acquired From: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via NetGalley

Brief Summary:
In a not too distant future, only about sixty years from today, people live in their homes, almost never leaving. Violence in schools (think of incidents like Columbine) began happening to such a degree that life became digital:
"About thirty years ago security fences became mandatory around all schools, policemen were stationed at every entrance, and metal detectors made going to class like passing through airport security. Students were stripped of all metal devices and had to check their coats and bags to be searched. They were only allowed to carry their books to and from class until the end of the day, when they were permitted to pick up their bags again. Ironically, this tightened security only made kids more creative. It became a challenge to smuggle guns into the schools. Shootings escalated....The repercussion led to digital schools 1-4. Now there is no choice. Even going to a public tutoring session is new; this has only been approved in the last few years. It's still banned in many states. A digital screen is like a bulletproof jacket." (176-178).
All interaction is done in a digital world; there is almost no face to face communication left. Madeline's dad created the digital schools. When she was young, she rebelled, nearly ending digital schools, getting her father arrested in the process. She now lives under house arrest, her father monitoring all activity until she turns 18. Then, she spontaneously decides to meet a guy she has been studying with online and begins questioning the digital school system yet again, as she experiences true life.

Awaken grabbed me from the very first page. The book starts with a journal entry by Madeline, which discusses the fact that people do not write longhand anymore and keep journals this way. Nor do they print books or use paper, what with there not being real trees anymore. A definite dystopia for a librarian and lover of literature! These journal entries are interspersed with the narration. There are only a few, but I think it works, because she only has one journal and cannot write too often or will not have anywhere else to write important things.

Of course, Awaken does have the immediate super duper love thing. Madeline falls for Justin the moment she sees him. From then on, she generally describes each first sight of him in a room thusly: "I instantly felt the energy in the room shift as if the lights dimmed or an air current changed direction" (150). This is definitely a bit much, but perhaps more understandable considering that this is almost the first time she has ever met someone her own age. So if you spent most of your time in your room on your computer, then left to meet a friend you chatted with and he turned out to be incredibly hot, nice, smart and trying to save the world, you might fall pretty hard pretty fast too.

Katie makes a good main character. She's brave sometimes, petrified sometimes, capable of defending herself and others when she needs to, incredibly intelligent and unaware of her amazingness. All of this combines to make her into a real character, a teenage girl trying to figure out her place in the world and what she wants to make of herself. It was always interesting when one of the journal entries would come up, because you could really see her working through the things that preceded. Plus, you got a view into what she hid in front of others, because she likes to really think through possibilities before committing herself to something.

This was a great dystopian read with some fantastic quotes that totally kept me rapt. From the ending of this one, a sequel is pretty much certain and I am most glad of it!

"The trouble is, nothing looks the same
The trouble is, I don't think it ever will

Oh, have you come for me?
Oh, have you come for me?

Pull me out of the ocean
Take me up in your arms again
Just the way with the love you send
Such a strange education
Leads me into your arms again
Cast away, lost again"

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Blogger Unknown said...

I loved this book! So glad you enjoyed it as well.

May 23, 2011 at 10:32 AM  
Blogger Tea, Daydreams & Fairytales said...

Great review - I really enjoyed this book and was so stoked when I found out that there was a sequel. I really liked the premise that fear had driven people indoors to the point that getting out and going for some cake and coffee seemed like a completely odd thing to do! Sincerely hope that this doesn't eventuate in my lifetime :P

May 25, 2012 at 6:03 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

I sincerely hope things don't go full-on dystopia in my lifetime! Haha, but yeah, I am curious to check out Middle Ground, although my memory's a little fuzzy at this point, so we'll see how that goes.

May 25, 2012 at 8:33 AM  

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