Awaken - Katie Kacvinsky
Our world is getting smaller and smaller. Facebook, Twitter, virtual school, the list goes on and on. We don't even need to leave the house. We can have food delivered, work, and socialize - all from the comfort of our homes. Imagine if that was your only option. No face-t0-face school, no live interaction, just everything done virtually. Movies, visits to coffee shops, self-defense training - EVERYTHING.This is the world Maddie lives in. She is a 17-yr-old girl who has lived a life of isolation since Kindergarten. Her father invented the Digital School System as a way to ensure all children receive an equal and safe education. The drawback of this noble idea is the fact that people retreat further and further into their own virtual worlds and are losing the ability to interact with people in person. Life is passing people by. The new goal in life is quick and convenient. Why deal with live trees that die when you can buy plastic trees that look great all year? Why jog outside when you can program your machine to take you through any virtual terrain you can imagine? Why meet your friends in person for a movie when you can all watch the same one on the computer and talk about it together online? Maddie has never been satisfied with her isolated life. She has spent a lot of time on protest websites and even participated in some rebellion of her own. So much so that her father hasn't trusted her to make her own decisions for over two years since the incident. Her website visits, call logs, and whereabouts are constantly checked. She is even subjected to a lie detector test every six weeks to make sure she stays on the straight and narrow.Maddie is restless and when she is invited to a face-to-face tutoring session by a boy she met online named Justin, she can't help but agree to go. Even though her father wouldn't like it. Justin leads a group of rebels that fight against Digital School and all its power. He needs Maddie to help his cause.After experiencing real-life interaction with like-minded people, Maddie isn't satisfied with her life anymore. Add into that the amazing attraction she feels for Justin and she can hardly stand being inside the house stuck on her computer at all! She craves contact with people - especially Justin.Can Maddie betray her family again just to make herself happy? AWAKEN is a warning to our society - giving us a glimpse of what we can look forward to if we continue to allow technology to seep into every facet of our lives. I enjoyed the story completely and loved the relationship between Justin and Maddie. The only turn-off was that, at times, the author seemed to get a bit preachy by allowing the characters to stand on a soap box spouting the terrible dangers of technology. I understand that is the point of the whole novel, but it just seemed heavy-handed sometimes. The author brought the story to an end at a natural part of the story. I was left satisfied and desperate for the sequel at the same time.