Friday, April 17, 2009

Wake by Lisa McMann

For seventeen-year-old Janie, spending her nights in someone else's dream is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-in-public dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie has learned more than she wants to about her friends--and even people she barely knows and doesn't want to.

She knows that she can't really tell anyone--not even her best friend--about what she can do. They'd either not believe her or think she's a freak and she already has enough to worry about with her detached, alcoholic mother and trying to earn enough money from her job at the nursing home for college tuition.
So instead, she tries to avoid sleepovers*, the rooms at the home in which the patients are asleep**, and overnight school field trips***.

When the dreams become worse and the nightmares keep her up all night, Janie tries to learn how to control the curse and use it to help people. The worst, though, is the gruesome nightmare she falls into while driving down a street in her neighborhood. This is the first time that she is more than just a witness to someone else's psyche. She is now a participant.

I may be a horrible friend (I don't really think so, though) for reading this book. You might wonder why and I guess I should say: I bought this book as a sweet sixteen present for one of my friends the night before her birthday and I hadn't read it yet. I really wanted to, though, so I decided to read it before I gave it to her. Does that make me a bad friend? I read all but 20 pages that night, and then went to bed, planning on finishing it in the morning. I had to hide it in my bag from her before school, but soon I finished it and didn't have to worry. The reason I was able to read this book so quickly was not only because it's so short; it is a fast-paced novel that seems to sweep you up into the action and leave you there long after it ends.

While it was kind of difficult to relate to Janie because she was a character that didn't let people in, I deeply enjoyed her style of narrative, especially Lisa McMann's decision to tell the story in present tense. This kept the pace at a heightened level and made the nightmares much more intense. The story came alive and seemed more realistic--despite its fantastic ideas and magical elements.

The major criticism I have for this book is Cabel's role in the story. Because the narrative offers scenes from Janie's past, the reader is shown the change in Cabel's personality from when he's a young teenager to the present, but despite this vantage point, it seems as if Cabel is just thrown into the story because he dreams at night. Not because he's in any way important, and not because Janie has feelings for him. He is and she does, but that doesn't seem to be the reason he's there. It feels like Janie is using his dreams to practice taking control because they are the most difficult to have control in. I like his character, so I hope that in Fade he'll have a larger personality and stronger presence.

Also, I'm not fond of the mother's role either. Is she just there to be mean, detached, and unaware? Is her only job to drink and not buy groceries? There has to be something more there and a reason why Janie lets her treat her the way she does. Janie has to be stronger than that. She goes through worse in other people's nightmares but she can't stand up to her mother? C'mon!

I liked this book a lot, but mostly for the plot, not the characters and some of you may know by now that I'm a character girl--I love the ones that are real but amazing, too. So that takes away a lot from Wake. Overall a 3.5 for this one, and holding out for a chance to get Fade soon to see if the character develop more.


*Yeah, after her first encounter with the disturbing dreams of her not-so-much-a-friend and her neighbor, she thinks she's done with these. Yet another thing that puts her on the fringe with just a single friend--as if poverty and freakish behavior wasn't enough to put her down on herself. It's okay, though. Who needs more than one best friend?
**She doesn't want to experience any more dreams about war, so lets keep those doors closed during naps, okay?
***Yet another thing she doesn't really manage to avoid. The bus ride up is the worst, though, with all those teenagers who had to wake up at five in the morning.


Khy said...

I actually really liked this one, but I agree with many of the things you brought up. Especially the mom thing. Sometimes I forget that Janie even has a mom. xD

Shelley said...

I thought the first half of the book seemed rushed and just jumped from dream to dream. The second half of the book was stronger and the plot eventually started to unfold when Janie learned she could control the dreams and actually do something with her ability.

*Heather* said...

Khy--I really liked it too when I first finished reading it. Just, as far as literary aspects go, it wasn't the best. It's a great read, though. Worth it for sure.

Shelley--totally true. Do you have a review of this book? I'd love to read it. I'll scan your blog for it.