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October 21

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Review: Wake by Lisa McMann

by Ann-Katrina

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.

Wake Synopsis

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.

Wake by Lisa McMann at Amazon

Comments on Review: Wake by Lisa McMann

  1. # Marisol wrote on November 30, 2008 at 11:18 am:

    This book was not that great. I returned my copy immediately after finishing it and I won’t get the new one that is supposed to come out next year. Why? Like you wrote, the idea was a good one, but I just couldn’t get into it. The characters weren’t that likable, and when Cabel just randomly started loving Janie, I had to put the book down and walk away. All of a sudden, these two kids who barely knew anything about each other, who barely got along, suddenly love each other? Plus that “please forgive me for giving you the cold shoulder because I’m really a [SPOILER REMOVED]” situation was just too far-fetched. I’m sure the next book will probably clear that whole situation up and make it more believable, but again, like you said, it should have been in one book to begin with. It’s just like they’re only after more money than actually putting out a good complete book.

  2. # Ann-Kat wrote on December 1, 2008 at 12:47 pm:

    Hi Marisol,
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts. Sorry, but I had to edit your comment because it contained a spoiler (a big one IMO).

    While I probably won’t buy the second book either, I’ll probably borrow it from someone or check it out from the library if it’s available. When I do, I’ll post a follow up and let everyone know if it clears everything up.

  3. # 2008 in Books, or the Ten Books I’m Glad I Read This Year - Today, I Read… wrote on January 6, 2009 at 3:29 pm:

    [...] Wake by Lisa McMann (review) [...]

  4. # Anonymous wrote on February 7, 2009 at 5:35 pm:

    I actually liked the book…but I felt the Janie-Cabel relationship was the highlight of the book…I wish McMann had given a bit more of their intimate scenes,you know?Everything else got somewhat tedious 2 me, after a while;!

    I checked the bk out from the library….and will not be buying any of them;(

  5. # Ann-Kat wrote on February 9, 2009 at 11:44 am:

    Out of curiosity, Anon, (should you choose to stop by again), why wouldn’t you purchase the book if you enjoyed it? Will you at least check out the second one from the library to see what happens in the story?

  6. # Sandra wrote on March 5, 2009 at 8:12 pm:

    The highlight of this book was pretty much the Cabel-Janie relationship. The ending made the book boring and like all those other novels out there with the convenient “thank god this character has this going on or he’d be dead meat” type of style. It changed dramatically,as if the writer lost interest in her book. The whole book made it just dream like but pretty real until the last part where Cabel just ends up being something totally unexpected.

  7. # emma wrote on March 16, 2009 at 2:51 pm:

    I liked the overall idea of the book, however I agree that it was rushed. I also noticed how coincidental it was… I won’t give any examples for spoiler reasons.

    I think that Cabel and Janie’s relationship should have matured more before they became too intimate for say.

    nice review!!

  8. # tina wrote on September 1, 2009 at 8:41 am:

    the whole idea of the book was good, but it was rather vague. lisa mcmann took my attention in a few parts, but lost me in the others. i enjoyed the book and i do intend on buying the books that are to come. i, in a way, relate to janie. hopefully, cabel and janie’s somewhat intimate relationship will be more focused in the following books.

    good review, by the way.

  9. # Michelle-S. wrote on September 2, 2009 at 5:11 pm:

    personally, i loved the book. i thought, though, the huge, “oh my god i love you” part from Cable and Janie WAS little much. i mean, they barely knew eachother. Also, it could have been longer and had more description following up big moments, and more little details and scenes. i think that would have made the book a hell of a lot better.

  10. # Gerri Anna wrote on October 6, 2009 at 9:14 pm:

    I personally thought Wake was a fabulous book. Then again, I like romance/spine trembling novels. I don’t really have any complaints about this book, no one should. Everyone has their own taste in novels, therefore, no one could ever state a fact about their taste in them. Everything would be an opinion. Although, for those of you who loved Wake and want more, there is a sequel to it. This book is called Fade and it is also written by Lisa McMann. Fade gets deeper into Janie and Cabel’s relationship and this time, the case with Captain gets more spooky. In my opinion, both of these books are fabulous. For those of you who haven’t read either of them, I suggest you try them out and see how you like them!

  11. # Tani O wrote on November 13, 2009 at 12:50 am:

    I really loved this book. I though it had a really good structure and that the characters personalities were very intriguing.

  12. # capt obvious wrote on November 13, 2009 at 1:29 am:

    Then Gerri, by your own logic you’ve invalidated your own assertion that it’s a fabulous book and that no one should have any complaints about it.

    How about this? Rather than telling people that having opinions is wrong (which it isn’t–see definitions of subjective/objective for clarification) and you just stick to presenting your own opinions without trying to invalidate the opinions of those which may dissent from your own.

    That said: I did find fault with the story/relationship development. Was it the worst book I’ve ever read? Not even close. Is there room for improvement? Absolutely. The protagonists’ relationship was suspect and the voice shifts with jarring effect toward the last quarter of the story.

  13. # German student wrote on November 23, 2009 at 4:24 am:

    we had to read wake at school.
    We have read to page 60 at the moment and we arent very enthusiastic , because it is a strange book.
    A bit boring. Maybe our opinion will change, when we continue reading,

    Viele Grüße ;)

  14. # Nikki .M. #10 wrote on December 9, 2009 at 4:33 pm:

    I love the book Wake it gave thoughts about stuff I need to know
    I’m doing a book report on it and I’ll probably do book reports on Fade and maybe Gone what ever comes up

  15. # Hayley(: wrote on January 7, 2010 at 4:19 pm:

    I personally loved the book WAKE I’m doig a report type thing on it. It’s pretty interesting to me I wish it would of been longer I didn’t stop reading. I can’t wait to read FADE.

  16. # liyah wrote on March 23, 2010 at 11:59 am:

    Are you crazy? This book was incredible! The scenes were extremely captivating and creative. I have read very few books that are as amazingly shuddersome as this one. I also think that Melinda’s dream was kinda hot. LOL. Anyway, i’ve read Wake and Fade, and I can’t wait to read Gone. Lisa Mcmann, if you’re reading this, please come out with a movie!

  17. # Ann-Kat wrote on March 23, 2010 at 4:34 pm:

    Hi Liyah,
    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    I agree that the story was creative. The idea of someone being able to fall into other people’s dreams was what snagged me in the first place. My only complaint is that there were gaping holes in the development, especially in the relationship between Janie and Cabel. It could have done well with a bit more fleshing out. And the last quarter? It was like reading a completely different book, which rubbed me the wrong way.

    In that vein, I recommend people read it, but I know some people might feel somewhat bamboozled if they spent $20 on the hardcover. (I only spent $11 and I still felt a little sting.) That’s why I suggest people find a used copy or check it out from the library, which is what I plan to do for the two subsequent novels.

  18. # RegineAnne wrote on April 7, 2010 at 1:39 am:

    I think that Wake was a good book. I was pulled into it quickly and I thought it was creative.
    I also agree that the book seemed rushed and was quite disappointed that it ended so quickly.
    I still recommend the book and I really enjoyed it. =)
    The other books, Fade and new book Gone are good as well.

  19. # Brittany wrote on May 21, 2010 at 5:02 pm:

    I read this book in night school a few weeks ago, I really think that this is amazing. The only trouble that I have with this is book is trying to write a paper on it. Oh and I also loved Fade but i still havn’t got to read Gone yet.

  20. # HeavenLee wrote on June 1, 2010 at 2:45 pm:

    I really enjoyed this book. The creativity is what initially got my attention.
    However I thought the take off of the book was a little slow and slightly hard to follow.
    As the book continued I began to love it.
    I also think it ended too abruptly.
    All in all a very very good book that I would recommend to anybody.

  21. # AJ wrote on September 10, 2010 at 10:11 am:

    im a bit new here, bt i really love the story…i give it a thumbs up, it’s a romantic story and it facinates me..nyway, good job to the writer…:-)

  22. # SQUIRRELGIRL wrote on September 22, 2010 at 4:48 pm:

    I really have mixed feelings about this book. The first is confusion and i do feel confused from the lack of explaining and detail. This book also makes NO sense at all. It’s like “oh I’m in someones dream. Now I’m gonna spaz on the floor. Hello person I barely know I think I love you. Lets make out. OMG my boy friend is [SPOILER REMOVED]. OMG my boyfriend has scars but i love her anyway”. Sorry that was harsh but soooooooo true. Another part of me love this book like crazy. I couldn’t put it down and so I finished it in a few hours. Also I was a bit grossed out with Melanie’s dreams . . . but what can I say? I am 12 after all. Anyway I will recommend this book and read the rest in the series. THANKS FOR READING THIS REVIEW YALL!!!!!! :D

  23. # Matt Birge wrote on September 30, 2010 at 12:45 pm:

    I love this book so far it is an unusual book that i really wouldn’t read but i think i might want to read FADE

  24. # danielle gutierrez wrote on October 11, 2010 at 12:48 am:

    i loved the book, it kept me interested and wanting to know more about cabel and janie’s relationship. I don’t think that cabel’s dream scene at the end was much at all because again they did somewhat know eachother for some time. im getting the second book next week [;

  25. # bree(: wrote on October 18, 2010 at 6:35 pm:

    I LOVED!!!! Fade wake and gone, amazing!(:
    i cant wait to read her next book amazing. yes there were parts that were boring and tedious but the romance and the drama overcame the boring parts. definiatly would read again!

  26. # Emily wrote on November 2, 2010 at 2:59 pm:

    i thought this book was amazing. i am definitely going to read the next books and any other books she writes. WOW! i usually hate books too.

  27. # alexandra mason wrote on November 5, 2010 at 2:55 pm:

    i love this book i want to read the rest of her seires, because cabel sound hot in this book

  28. # Amanda wrote on November 10, 2010 at 1:53 pm:

    i love it!!!!!!!!

  29. # lisa wrote on November 25, 2010 at 2:48 pm:

    i totally completely luved dis book sooooo freakin much!!!!!i finished it in a cupple of hours….and i waz NOT in a rush.i only red wake….but im gettin fade and gone 2mrw.i am really mad because lisa wont make a 4th book 4 this series.i herd shez gonna make a movie based on this book….and miley cyrus is actin as janie.PLEAZ DONT LET THAT HAPPEN!!!!!let some1 else act as janie….cuz im lookin 4ward 2 the movie and i dont want miley 2 ruin it!!!!!let a hot guy act as cabel:)pleaz lisa make a 4th book…..if u dont ill be sad:( its my fav book ever!!!!!!! i want lisa 2 focus more on the janie/cabel relationship and on janie’s power.

    P.S. is it true janie dies in gone???

  30. # lisa wrote on November 25, 2010 at 2:51 pm:

    if some1 has the chanc…..pleaz answer my questions if u read the books

    P.S. im the same girl who commented #29

  31. # Carla wrote on December 6, 2010 at 4:52 am:

    noo she doesnt =) i just read the series this weekend and it was ok, def not one of my fav series but not too bad

  32. # Shanaye wrote on January 3, 2011 at 4:23 pm:

    I felt that this book did not have much of a climax. It did not have a plot either; things just kept happening. Also, the characters seemed very “cleshay” and i did not find them unique in anyway. My recommendation :D ON’T TAKE THE TIME TO READ THIS BOOK, IT’S NOT VERY GOOD.

  33. # Jocelyn wrote on January 27, 2011 at 8:30 pm:

    This book sucked!!!!!! It was stupid and pointless nothing exciting happened… The only good thing that happened in this book that it ended! Apparently Lisa Mcmann doesn’t know how 2 write books! If I wrote this book I would be so ashamed…!!! ugggggghhhhh DO NOT EVER READ THIS BOOK, YOU MIGHT DIE OF BORDOM!!!!!!!

  34. # jennifer perez wrote on February 2, 2011 at 9:42 am:

    The first time I saw the book. . . it really captured my attention. It’s interesting. And I’m starting to love it. But I love Twilight more. And I’m quite upset that Miley Cyrus will be the one to play Janie. For me. she just doesn’t fit for the role. That’s all. And oh, uhmm, Lisa McMann is fantastic. She really did a good job in the book.

  35. # meilany caimares wrote on February 3, 2011 at 2:34 pm:

    I Couldnt Even Put The Book Down !
    The Author : Lisa McMann Is A Genious !
    I Evenn Readd Thee Book FADE !
    Im Waitinq Forr Thee Book GONE !
    I Cntt Wait !

  36. # ethan payne wrote on March 16, 2011 at 3:06 pm:

    heyyyy guys just wanted to let you know this book is fantabulous i luv it with a gay passion

  37. # Samantha wrote on March 31, 2011 at 10:24 pm:

    I really found this book boring and a waist of my time, it was written poorly and it was not very interesting

  38. # Teri wrote on May 15, 2011 at 11:01 pm:

    I liked the series to be honest I think it was written rather well as well as the other 2 books in the trilogy

  39. # Sally wrote on May 30, 2011 at 8:23 pm:

    I’m having trouble figuring out what theme of the book is. Can anyone help?

  40. # ilyana wrote on July 18, 2011 at 12:40 pm:

    i love this book so much <3 :P

  41. # jake goodpaster wrote on September 29, 2011 at 9:30 am:

    Lisa did herself well when she wrote wake!
    This book is amazing, i’m a BIG fan of Twilight and i think Wake beats Twilight by 100%!
    If Wake was made into a movie, it would be BIGGER and BETTER then Twilight.
    Wake, Fade, & Gone are all amazing!
    I hope that we hear more from Janie and Cabel soon!
    I follow Lisa on Twitter and FaceBook, im also friends with her son on FaceBook!
    And i’ve asked the two big questions!
    Is there going to be a movie?
    Lisa answer that there might be a movie in the near furture, and that Miley Cyrus might play the role of Janie.. wish i hope she doesnt!
    Then the next question was..
    Will there be more about Janie?
    Lisa said
    That she is not sure if there will be anything about Janie for the next 3 years, but that they will be something about Janie soon!
    I also asked how Janie is doing, and she told me that Janie is doing great, Cabel is doing great as well!
    These books are amazing, and im reading Wake AGAIN for the 22 time!

  42. # Shelby Rush wrote on December 7, 2011 at 3:25 pm:

    i love this book. wheres the movie:D

  43. # shawnii wrote on January 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm:

    my mom got this book for me for christmas i first picked it up and i was like this book is so strange then i picked it up again and it is so wonderful im only on the book wake rite now but its so amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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