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It’s Been A Hard Hundred Years’ Night

Karen Healey's cryonic thriller When We Wake is exciting, but it wasn't compelling enough to thaw out my heart.

It’s Been A Hard Hundred Years’ Night

BOOK REPORT for When We Wake by Karen Healey

Cover Story: Frozen Big Face
BFF Charm: Meh
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: Plain But Not Simple
Bonus Factors: Sci-Fi, Diversity
Anti-Bonus Factor: Parkour
Relationship Status: Cool As Ice

Cover Story: Frozen Big Face

I know, I know, I should be used to seeing Big Face by this point. Hell, we've hung out so many times, we're practically besties. But unless Big Face can learn to stop staring at me with those huge creepy eyes, we will never be friends. I will, however, offer Big Face a blanket, because I am a good person, and Big Face is freezing. But don't think this means more than it does, Big Face! WE'RE STILL NOT FRIENDS.

The Deal:

When Tegan was shot and killed at age sixteen, it really, really sucked. But when she woke up a hundred years later and realized that her family was dead and the world had gone down the toilet, that's when things got brutal. See, Tegan was cryonically frozen as part of a government experiment, and now she's a medical miracle, a celebrity superstar. As she grapples with her new life in a strange world, Tegan is torn between missing her past and embracing a present sizzling with technological marvels and tainted by socioeconomic stratification. She slowly adapts, making new friends and bonding with her guardian, Marie, but when Tegan uncovers the military secrets surrounding her rebirth, she is once again in danger of dying... and never waking up again.

BFF Charm: Meh


Tegan is a strong, vibrant heroine, and with her political earnestness and obsession with the Beatles, she certainly feels like an authentic teenager. But I simply didn't connect with her. I liked her, and I was definitely rooting for her, but I wasn't compelled by her. It might be Healey's writing style (which I'll discuss below), or it might be that Tegan and I just aren't compatible. For whatever reason, I felt no emotional attachment to her, which is a shame, because she seems like a great girl.

I will, however, offer up a BFF charm to Bethari, Tegan's future bestie, who is insanely badass and super smart. And I'm not just saying that because she could hack into an evil corporation's bank accounts and make us all rich. (Although that would be totes fine by me.)

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

In Tegan's first life (set in 2027), she's in love with her brother's best friend, Dalmar. Upon waking up one hundred years later, her realization that Dalmar is not only dead but lived a whole life without her is one of the more poignant moments in the book. Then she meets Abdi, a boy from Dijbouti who won his way to Tegan's prestigious private school by winning a nationally televised singing contest. Abdi is prickly and removed, but Tegan is drawn to his passion for music and his outsider perspective. I like Abdi, but I wish there had been more heat between him and Tegan-- at least enough fire for a slow burn. Instead, I got a light warmth that I could barely feel in my fingers or in my toes.

Talky Talk: Plain But Not Simple

Karen Healey doesn't mince words. Her sentences tend to be short, almost choppy, and straight to the point. This kind of style works fantastically for action sequences (of which there are several in this book), but not as well for emotional development. That's not to say that her writing is basic, because it's not. I just found it to be a little abrasive, especially with the added layer of future slang. Maybe other people won't mind it as much, but I get reeeally annoyed with the abuse of slang, especially if it's made-up. Yes, I understand that Healey was trying to craft a detailed future world, but every time I stumbled on a "ween" or "facebreaking" or "bazza," I couldn't stay focused on the page because I was too busy rolling my eyes. Slang aside, I enjoyed the storyline, although the pacing was a little too scattered to keep me 100% absorbed.

Bonus Factor: Sci-Fi

We've been hearing that sci-fi is the new dystopia in YA, and while that rumor has yet to be realized, this book represents a refreshing change in genre. Sure, there's no aliens or spaceships, but Healey's futuristic world really delivers when it comes to scientific advancement and crazy awesome technology.

Bonus Factor: Diversity

Set in Australia, this book explores conflicts of race, religion, immigration and other types of social stratification. It even tackles homosexuality! Major pants to Healey for wrestling with these topics without turning her book into an after-school special.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Parkour

I realize that some people think parkour is really cool. But I'm not one of them.

Casting Call:

This book is set in Australia, and you know what that means... DANCE ACADEMY!

Alicia Banit as Tegan

Tegan is pretty, resiliant and a little clueless, which sounds a lot like a certain Kat Karamakov. Plus, if Alicia is playing her, I know I would like Tegan a whole lot more.

Dena Kaplan as Bethari

An Australian badass? Like there's any other choice.

As for Abdi, I have no idea. If you're familiar with any teen Somali actors, hit me up in the comments!

Relationship Status: Cool As Ice

With its fascinating storyline and vibrant futuristic world, this book totally piqued my interest. Maybe too much, actually, because after we hung out, I realized that my expectations had not been met. I enjoyed the sci-fi elements of its company, and I think its heart is in the right place, but we didn't really make an emotional connection. So while I think this book is pretty cool, I won't be calling up the sequel for a date.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from Little, Brown. I received neither money nor cocktails for this review. When We Wake is available in stores now.

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).