Eclectic Reader Challenge – Romantic Suspense – Awaken – Katie Kacvinsky

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.8665876

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.

Plans for Summer

It feels like this summer has been a long time coming. Now it’s here, I feel the usual panic at spending my time wisely. It is tempting to just lounge about and recover from the last term but before you know it, the weeks have been wasted and it is time to  go back to school.

This year, I have a lot of plans. First of all, I’d like to get Choose Yr Future into some sort of first draft. At least, it all needs to be written, even if I am still playing with the structure. (The structure is giving me particular trouble and I have already changed my mind twice about this.) Then will come editing and beta readers but I envisage that will be nearer the end of the year.

An even bigger task is to try and move away from teaching. Even supply teaching takes up too much free time, especially if you get a long term contract which happened to me in the last term. And even if the planning is less, it is still exhausting. And stressful, let’s not forget that. So, a change is required. 

It’s hard to know what else I could do. I’m sure I have transferable skills but the main problem isn’t knowing what they are but what I might want to transfer them to. Of course, there are opportunities to work online and I am investigating those. 

First up though, a much needed few days away. A chance to clear my head. Hopefully I will come back full of energy (which is sadly lacking at the moment) and with a fresh sense of focus.