Reviews for Awaken

Booklist Reviews 2011 April #1
Kacvinsky's debut novel is set in a 2060 world of mandated digital school and cyber dating, in which people have forgotten how to cook and seldom go outside. Seventeen-year-old Maddie, the daughter of the developer of Digital School, is comfortable with her life until she attends an unusual face-to-face tutoring session and meets gorgeous Justin. He advises her to disconnect from the virtual world and start to live, taking her out to a real restaurant and for a spin in his car. Maddie falls hard until she learns that Justin is part of an anti-Digital school group and wants her help hacking into her father's files. Kacvinsky has a sharp ear for teen dialogue and sensibilities, and the romance between Justin and Maddie has real sizzle. The world building is occasionally sketchy, and the story's message--technology is isolating, and people are substituting the wired world for real living--is often too overt. Still, the well-paced story and forbidden romance will pull teens in, and although the underlying themes lack subtlety, they raise vital questions for today's teens. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
In 2060, seventeen-year-old Madeline is content in a society where digital schools have eliminated face-to-face interaction. Then she meets Justin and realizes there's more to life than a digital profile. Though Maddie's mooning over Justin grows tiresome, the story's rebellious-heroine-takes-on-Big-Brother setup will likely appeal to tech-savvy teens. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 April #2
Can love exist in a digital age? It's 2060, and American teens are educated at home via DS—digital school. Few venture outside their comfortable virtual worlds, but 17-year-old Maddie leads a life even more confined than most. She's been grounded for years—punishment for serious digital misbehavior—and despite a sympathetic mom, her dad, architect of the DS system, won't let Maddie off the hook yet. Then, at a face-to-face tutoring session, she meets her digital-study–buddy Justin, who introduces her to a new world, the three-dimensional one. Thoroughly smitten, Maddie allows Justin and his cohorts to draw her into their conspiracy to end DS for good. The futuristic and political trappings make little sense (DS was instituted to end violence in American schools, including mass killings of elementary schoolchildren by terrorists aiming to curb overpopulation). However, as the title hints, this debut's true subject is romantic awakening. Before readers can succumb to disbelief, the narrative shifts to Maddie's dawning attraction to Justin and the natural world he represents, following her sensual voyage of discovery and exploration of first love's frustrations and joys. Among the pleasures of this high-tech fairy tale are Maddie's initiative, courage and independent spirit, stoutly risking rejection in pursuit of her heart's desire. (Science fiction/romance. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2011 November

Gr 9 Up--Because of school violence, terrorism, drugs, etc., all students in Corvallis, OR, in 2060 attend online classes, called Digital School. Virtually all relationships are now digital. Teens visit virtual coffee shops, take virtual runs on the beach, and go out on virtual dates. Maddie, 17, is practically the poster child for DS, since her father invented it. Unbeknownst to her thousands of online "friends," she is serving three years probation for hacking his files and passing them to anti-DS activists. When Maddie meets one of her virtual study buddies for a tutoring session, she is reintroduced to the physical world and unplugged relationships. Justin, older, mysterious, and smoking hot, has more than just studying-or even sex-in mind when he chooses her. He aims, like his parents before him, to bring down DS, and Maddie is faced with a difficult decision. Lest readers be a little slow on the uptake, the author all but shouts at them that virtual relationships are not as good as real-life ones. The story requires a suspension of disbelief that is hard to maintain. Can Maddie really not know why an anti-DS activist would recruit her of all people? In a world that is almost free of personal automobiles, how is it that the police are unable to find Justin's Mustang V-8 or connect it to his online persona (user name "Mustang V-8")? The story picks up in the middle with some exciting chases and a budding romance, so the ending is perhaps the biggest disappointment of all.--Anthony C. Doyle, Livingston High School, CA

[Page 128]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

VOYA Reviews 2011 April
In 2060, the United States is digital.  Kids "attend" digital schools, chat online, dance online, maintain friendships online.  Books are digital because there is no paper--real trees and grass have been replaced with plastic replicas.  Dissidents work diligently to get the world to disconnect.  Maddie's father, now an influential educator, developed digital schooling in response to school violence. Maddie got in trouble two years ago supplying classified information from her father's computer to protestors.  As punishment, she was "sentenced" to probation during which time her father monitored her every move.  Maddie meets Justin in an online study group and he invites her to meet face-to-face.  With her independent-thinking mother's tacit approval, she meets Justin, not knowing that he wants to recruit her to the protestors' cause.  As she falls in love with Justin, she is torn between her love for him and her love for her family Awaken has a great premise as people are becoming more and more wired and face-to-face contact decreases.  The plot is more love story (mostly Maddie pining over Justin) than social commentary, however, and the ending is disappointing.  Kacvinsky wants readers to believe that people in 2060 never leave their homes, which is difficult.  The limited action is fun but the story would benefit from more.  The ease and impact of manipulating information in a digital world is only touched upon.  Most characters have little depth.  A more issue-driven story would have been more powerful.--Ed Goldberg 3Q 3P M J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.