This genre caused me problems the first time round and this time I decided to leave it until the end as I just couldn’t decide what to read for it. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I am not a romantic person and I do not like romance films and novels very much. I was amazed to find that I loved Come Unto These Yellow Sands by Josh Lanyon (which I read for this genre last time round) so much. In fact, I was contemplating reading another Lanyon or something similar. But I had tried to make the books I read for each category as different as possible this time round. And it is called the Eclectic Reader Challenge after all. So I found myself trawling through lists of dreadful sounding books on Goodreads, unable to make a decision.
In the end, I asked for help from the Goodreads community and Awaken was recommended to me. It sounded interesting and certainly better than anything else I’d looked at so I decided to go with it. After all, this is the point of reading communities, to find books you would never previously have read.
This book is set in a future where everyone lives through their computers and never has actual physical contact with anyone. In fact, many people never leave the house. It touches on many things that I have blogged about myself such as reading a book rather than a kindle and the thinness of online communication compared to face to face communication. Maddie, the heroine, is one such teen who is liberated from her safe online world by a group of teenagers who meet face to face, dance to actual music and go to cafes. They also protest against the controlling online digital world. So far so good.
As ever, though, the R word troubled me and I felt the love story detracted from the main story and slowed the action down too much. Even worse, I found the gendered roles stereotypical and a little depressing. It occurred to me that this is probably why I found the romance between Josh Lanyon’s gay characters easier to deal with. They didn’t fall into typical roles. In this story, Madelaine is supposed to be independent and strong, yet she cannot live without the impossibly handsome Justin even though he is arrogant, distant and talks in polemic all the time. He put his job above everything and believed he knew what was best for everyone. She fell easily into the idea of saving him from himself and breaking through all his barriers. I failed to see how it could be worth her effort.
All in all, I enjoyed the main plot about overthrowing Digital School and some good points were made about the importance of face to face communication but the romance was unconvincing and sometimes it felt like I was being hit over the head with a sign saying online communication is bad, the points were that lacking in subtlety. Overall, six out of ten.