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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Review: Those That Wake by Jesse Karp

I believe what makes us humans separate from other species, what makes us unique, are our emotions. Our ability to feel and decide for ourselves, our free will.

In Jesse Karp's futuristic, dystopian novel, our emotions, and our minds, can be our downfall.

Title: Those That Wake by Jesse Karp
Pages: 340
Release Date: March 21, 2011
Published by: Harcourt Children's Books
Source: From author for the Dystopian Domination event (thanks, Jesse!)
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository

Summary (from Goodreads):

New York City’s spirit has been crushed. People walk the streets with their heads down, withdrawing from one another and into the cold comfort of technology. Teenagers Mal and Laura have grown up in this reality. They’ve never met. Seemingly, they never will.

But on the same day Mal learns his brother has disappeared, Laura discovers her parents have forgotten her. Both begin a search for their families that leads them to the same truth: someone or something has wiped the teens from the memories of every person they have ever known. Thrown together, Mal and Laura must find common ground as they attempt to reclaim their pasts.

It all started when Mal received a cryptic phone call from his estranged older brother, asking for help. For Laura, it started when she arrived late for a scholarship interview she thought she'd nail. Then suddenly Mal's brother, Tommy is missing, and Laura's parents have forgotten they had her as a daughter. Mal and Laura do not have anything in common, but their lives will forever be changed when, in search for reasons why their lives were suddenly thrown off course and made no sense at all, they woke up in a world where nothing is as it seems.

I have to admit that this book has such an attractive premise that I might have underestimated my reading experience for this one, because I found myself trying to look for a semblance of order in the story when I started reading. I thought nothing had made sense, that I was reading fragments of lives of different people all patched up together. I felt like I was thrown in the middle of a story where I don't get to know the main characters and just watching them live their lives from afar.

Gradually, the pieces come together as I go on. The setting, New York, is a technology hub where people rely heavily on technology for anything and everything. Ultimately, when you rely on technology, you depart from the normal means of communication, and it came to a point where people do not look each other in the eye anymore. Human interaction was hampered by cell screens, and everyone walks with their heads down. Technology has worn down the people's ability to feel, but corporations do not see this as a problem. For them it was an opportunity to profit, a chance to exploit. Thus memes appeared.

Memes. Who would have thought they can be so destructive?

What if you have the power to manipulate people's minds? Having the ability to illicit emotions from people through advertisements and messages? Ingenious but dangerous and it was the reason why Mal and Laura were pulled off from the lives they're living, miserable or comfortable it didn't matter.

The only word I can use to fully describe this book is unique. There is no adequate word to describe the characters or the premise. Those That Wake's plot centers on manipulating and influencing people's minds, and I have to say it was a great idea. What made reading this book hard for me was the amount of information and explanation I had to go through to be able to understand what was going on. It sounded too technical even for me and grasping the whole concept took a while to sink in and understand.

Despite this roadblock, the intertwined stories of different people brought together by a vague, unseen sinister force was what urged me to read. Mal and Laura forged a bond in the most unlikely of times, and amidst all the confusion and conflicts, Mal and Laura's interaction was what made me like this book. Two people who couldn't have been more different were brought together by unusual circumstances, and they made it through.

Those That Wake's story was more than just your typical sci-fi novel, as seen through Mal's life, complicated, bitter and unhappy. It lent a realistic edge to the sci-fi vibe of this book.

Those That Wake was part information overload, part thriller, part romance, part dystopian, part science fiction and a thoroughly enjoyable book. A satisfying read from a debut author with an interesting voice.

Sci-fi and dystopian fans, give this book a try!

My rating

Content (plot, story flow, character):

Shining: Worthy of a Goddess' Love!

Book Cover:

The ominous vibe is obvious through that book cover.


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