From the back cover of Wake
She is floating. Not the falling dream again, she thinks. She is sick to death of the falling dream.
The scene changes immediately. Now Janie is outside. It’s dark. She’s alone, behind a shed, but she can hear muffled voices. She’s never been alone before, and she doesn’t know how people can have dreams that they are not in. She is curious. She watches nervously, hoping this isn’t somebody’s nightmare about to explode through the wall of the shed, or from behind the bushes…
Three quick points about Wake
- Point 1: It’s rather short. With abrupt, sometimes awkward, sentence structures.
- Point 2: This is either a ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ book, yet somehow I managed to be squarely in the middle, loving some aspects, craving more definition, and hating others.
- Point 3: The characters remind me of Bella Swan and Eward Cullen in their inexplicable love that just somehow seems to work for the story.
The full review of Wake
Before reading the full review, please note that there may be some spoilers. I tried to keep it vague enough not to spoil the entire story, but be warned. If you’d rather not take any chances, skip the synopsis and go straight to the final thoughts.
The story, penned by Lisa McMann, is about a young girl named Janie Hanagan who has a special ability: she inexplicably plunges into the dreams of others.
She first discovered this unique ability when she was eight, but she didn’t fully understand it until much later. As she aged, she had more episodes and through her interactions, she discovered the hopes, fears, and desires of those around her.
Then, while driving one day, she tumbles into a nightmare. Over time she discovers who the recurring nightmare belongs to and they form a relationship. He, Cabel, helps Janie come to terms with her ability and Janie helps him come to terms with his own twisted history.
Both of these main characters, Janie and Cabel, have disturbed childhoods–Janie’s mother is an alcoholic who couldn’t care less about what her daughter is up to (rather convenient) and Cabel’s abusive father died (plus, he’s legally old enough to live alone which is also rather convenient for the story progression); his mother is purportedly living somewhere in Florida.
Their budding relationship suffers some setbacks when Janie allows the rumors she hears about Cabel to overrule her own judgment, what she’s seen in his actions, and what he’s told her. Eventually, Cabel’s secret is revealed, Janie learns the truth, and all is once again right in their world.
Final Thoughts on Wake
Rarely do I say this about a book, but it needs to be longer. It’s convoluted in places, well conceived in others, and simply anemic overall. Otherwise it would have rated as one of the better books I’ve read recently.
Wake falls into the category of well conceived, but questionably executed. The format of the date and time for sections was a nice touch. The description of the dreams, the terseness of the sentences, and the vague descriptions all contributed to the dreamlike quality of the book.
What didn’t work well for the story, however, was the lack of details, back story, and transitions. The development of the relationship between Janie and Cabel was suspect. (It’s difficult to give an example without giving away the spoilers.) And the cat and mouse game they played while Cabel was withholding information from Janie, leaving her with nothing to go on except rumors and conjecture, seemed trite. And let’s not even get started on the big reveal of Cabel’s secret, or the secret itself. That entire section, which came at the end and changed the tone, style, and tempo. Suddenly, what made the book a unique and exciting read dissipated into thin air and it became yet another commercial novel.
McMann has an excellent and unique story idea, but its evolution is too unsophisticated to be fully palatable. Other readers might love it for its simplicity, but for me, it was overly simple. So simple that the complete story seemed disjointed. The end was more like an afterthought, added for a bit of action, than a deliberate thread in the story. There’s another novel due out in February 2009 which is said to complete the Janie/Cabel story, but frankly, the story shouldn’t have been broken into two books. Or, the current story should have been slightly more rounded out.
All in all, it was a quick and easy read. The premise and story was good (the concept of someone who falls into other peoples’ dreams). And the style worked for about 80-90% of the story, so I don’t regret the purchase, but I’m wishing I’d checked it out at the library first or grabbed it used.
Rating: Get it used (?)
Note for parents or sensitive readers: This book is targeted to young adults (girls in general), but it does have some coarse language and underage alcohol/drug use. It’s probably along the lines of what young people face today. While it’s not hardcore, or even condoning its use, I thought I should go ahead and mention it.