Book Review: When We Wake (When We Wake #1) by Karen Healey

When We Wake - Karen Healey

A copy of this novel was provided by Allen and Unwin in exchange for an honest review.


To be entirely honest, I take some comfort in reading about horrible futures and dystopian societies in other countries. Not because I am a sadist and relish in their downfall. No, it’s just like: aw, yeah, Australia is just chilling down in the ocean and everything’s fine. We’re fine. We’re fine.


When We Wake is set in an Australia of the future. *cue screaming* We’re one of the superpowers, one of the only countries left with water – we’re fabulous. But cruel. We have a no immigrant policy, and there are crazy people shooting other people that they think are immigrants – and they’re also shooting Australians because they’re obviously bogans. We're focussed on tech, and we have some shady business going down with cryonics. Yeah, not a pretty picture of our future. Actually kind of scary, but sadly not too hard to imagine.


But there are also some plus sides, like gender equality and acceptance of sexual orientation. But these few lights are smothered by the rest of the darkness of this future.


Crazy good imaginings of the future of Australia aside, When We Wake is a really good novel. I do like reading books set in my home country. It feels much more personal, and this was personal in a creepy way. I know it seems like I am going on about this, but I think the world building was the best aspect of this novel. It was so very well thought out, not just a: yup the future is bad, really bad. There were descriptions of all kinds of things, but they weren’t given in info dumps, either. It was great.

But onwards.


I liked the small cast of characters in When We Wake, it really allowed me as a reader to get to know each of them in depth, rather than just in passing. We even got to know the characters in the past quite well, due to Tegan’s memories and flashbacks. All the characters were very distinct, and fleshed out really well, especially Bethari. Whilst I felt that Tegan and Beth became besties a little quickly to be realistic, I did appreciate the inclusion of a friend that actually meant something to the main character. The romance between Abdi and Tegan also moved a little quickly for my taste, and I wasn’t entirely behind it. I was still a fan, but I kind of felt like Abdi went from: ew, gross to: kiss me quite swiftly. But this romance wasn’t the focus the novel, so it was easy to overlook in the scheme of things.


I liked the progression of the storyline, and felt that there was ample time given to Tegan to adjust to her new life in the future, but also realise that not everything is the way it seems. The climax was kind of anti-climatic in a way, but I didn’t feel like it needed to be a Big Huge Reveal.


I am really excited about reading the next book in the series, because I want to know what happens to Tegan and her friends now that they are privy to information they were never supposed to have.


A chilling imagining of the future in a unique setting, When We Wake is a captivating novel for any young adult reader.


© 2014, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.


Your Turn: Do you feel a little freaked out when reading imaginings of the future of your country? Do you think that futuristic/dystopian novels need a Big Huge Reveal?