Google+ Reading Teen: [Book Review] When We Wake by Karen Healey

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

[Book Review] When We Wake by Karen Healey

When We Wake
by Karen Healey
Age Range: 12 and up
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (March 5, 2013)
Language: English
Buy the Book: Amazon
Mark on Goodreads
My name is Tegan Oglietti, and on the last day of my first lifetime, I was so, so happy.

Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027--she's happiest when playing the guitar, she's falling in love for the first time, and she's joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice.

But on what should have been the best day of Tegan's life, she dies--and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.

Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity--even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn't all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?

At a Glance:

This dystopian book was great. It was quick, captivating, and adventurous, and the heroine was actually making a difference in the world.


I feel like in a lot of books I read, there is more mystery and suspense than actual action. When We Wake was an exception to my norm, because the characters were running and sneaking around at least ½ of the book. It wasn’t like chopping people down action, but there was a lot of movement as Tegan, the main character, tried to figure out what was really happening while staying free.

I liked the author’s invention of a gun that blew up people’s eardrums. So, instead of killing everyone every time, there were at least other methods of control. Also, Tegan, did freestyle running, which made for some pretty cool scenes, with her taking off jumping off buildings and the like.


There was a little romance, but it wasn’t the main storyline. At first I thought it was kinda weird, because Tegan started falling for a guy that reminded her of her boyfriend before she died. But, the relationship progression was good; they weren’t instantly in-love, with Abid, the love-interest, pushing her off at first until they were sorta friends, sorta more-than-friends, etc...


Tegan was pretty awesome. I think she would be one of my best friends. This girl dies, and wakes up in the future as a guinea-pig in the super-power of Australia’s experiment, thrust into the public eye as someone who should be an ideal spokesperson. But, Tegan is independent and thinks for herself, always trying to figure out what the right thing is, willing to learn from others and adjust her beliefs to reality.

Tegan is somewhat of an activist, which, if you know anything about me, I pretty much am too. That made it really easy for me to relate to her character. We both can’t seem to tolerate indifference and want to make the world a better place. She sees something wrong and wants others to know about and respond to what she views as injustice. She even said some quotes which were so good that I actually dog-eared them (well, as much as you can do that on a, um... highlighted). Like check this out:

“Thinking about and fighting some of the world’s multiple horrors had made my life more painful. But is was a much larger life than I would have lived otherwise.”

That is not a shallow girl; she is concerned with things that matter more than just whether her lipstick is the right shade. It helps that Tegan is also tough, strong, smart, She sees the good in the world, is loyal to her friends and family, and genuinely seems to care about people as she figures out her new life.

She is also really musical. Note: if you like the Beatles, then you’ll appreciate this book 5x more than the average person.

Favorite Supporting Character:

I liked a lot of characters in this novel. There is the cool guardian, the new best friend, and then the genius girl who seems like she is always high. But Abdi was intriguing. He isn’t outgoing, he is judged and looked down on as a minority, and is not from a powerful, rich country. He is very musical, secretive, and a little rebellious. But he is also considerate, sweet, and is willing to sacrifice for what matters. He is also wise. Not like Yoda wise (thank God), but seems to make good decisions. I can imagine myself falling for him, but maybe that is just because he is the type of guy I tend to fall for.

Something I loved:

Karen Healy created a fantastically real world, which was somewhat disconcerting because it was almost too familiar. It wasn’t majorly sci-fi or crazy far-out there, rather it was just an expansion of what we live in today. Better technology, new inventions, different issues, and environmental problems worsened. The world issues have just shifted. There are new world leaders, new diseases, new policy issues and new people to hate or care for. It really isn’t that much different than today.

I think this makes it easier for the reader to connect with, because we can envision it. I liked that a lot, although I can see way it might also be something to hate, being a little too realistic for probably all our tastes.

I also like the fact that somehow, in a fast-paced YA book, the author somehow manages to throw in all these thinking-points, that challenge the reader’s view on everything from religion, to environmental policies. Actually, come to think of it, I have never before read a YA book so focused on real social issues and world issues- let alone in a dystopian novel!

I found myself trying to decide what I thought about legal drugs for kids over 16, the use of which is highly controlled and it is impossible for anyone to get hurt or damaged (Yes, how magical! And miraculously, no one is stoned even though it seems like everyone would be all the time). So, if it was legal, controlled, safe, no damage what-so-ever, would I be okay with that?

Healy makes you think about stuff like this, even though I am pretty sure a lot of readers might not even notice themselves working through the questions the book raises. Healy somehow mixes deep issues with a fast adventure that doesn’t make it seem like a brain-challenger at all. And that is good.

Something I hated:

But, on the other side of that coin, is that Healy is obviously writing out her morality in this book. It is okay that I don’t agree with everything she writes in When We Wake, but sometimes I feel like she wants me to think things are okay that I am not really alright with. Of course, this is all happening subconsciously. In reading the story I am inserting myself into it, surrounding myself with a group of friends who believe differently than me. And that is Healy’s prerogative; as an author, I would totally be writing what I believe into the undercurrent of a story. Heck, I do it every week in my blog! It is just extremely noticeable, feeling like a view is pushed on me to accept, in this story in particular.

Still, the majority of it I am fine with, and often think it is good (Yes, let’s not misuse resources, let’s not kill people, let’s tell the truth, let’s be generous and let’s be kind, even to your enemies). It was more so the views on religion I was feeling pressured to agree with her in. There are so many views expressed in this book, I am pretty sure everyone will at least have something they are not okay with.

Also, the technology, although more modern than what we have, seemed a little lacking. I was expecting more awesomeness. Or maybe I was expecting Tegan to have more of a clue before she started playing with electronics. Afterall, she lived in 2020 before she even died!

Would I recommend it?

Although I am pretty sure my psychological review of this book has just turned everyone off (sorry, habits die hard), just remember you probably won’t notice half of that worldview stuff I did.

So, on that note, yes, I totally recommend it! I love captivating quick reads like this, loved that it was dystopian, loved they are trying to change the world, loved the action, liked the romance, liked the main character, and it ended in suspense. Read it!

If you are reading it with a teen, just consider having some conversations with them about all the different worldviews this story includes. It would be a great discussion starter.


Um, man. I should remember this, I just read it! There was a little cussing, kissing, thelegal drug use, and Tegan and Abid spent the night together without having sex.

4 of 5

Inspiring the average American to change the world.


  1. Thanks for the review. I have this ARC and you've gotten me excited to read it.

  2. This sounds really good. I love a book that has a lot of stuff in it that makes you think. Your psychological observations actually make me more excited to read it. Fantastic review!!

  3. I love this cover and I have been super curious about it. Thanks for your thoughtful review!

    Kristin @ Young Adult Book Haven

  4. Definitely looking forward to this book. I'm glad that the romance isn't the main plot and Tegan sounds awesome. Plus I adore the Beatles so I'm looking forward to whatever reference is made to them :)

  5. I thought a lot of the same things you did about this book. Tegan is awesome, a great character. I will leave a recommendation for another good book, Stelladaur: Finding Tir Na Nog. It's a fantasy type based in the Pacific Northwest. Shari Whyte is the author, she also has the Stelladaur Academy which is an online scholarship program. is where you can find out about it!

    1. Oh, I will check it out! Thanks! (sorry so late a response, sometimes Andye forgets to tell me when she posts my reviews ;)


Leave us a comment. Commenting people are our favorites! And we like to give things to favorites :)