Let me begin this post by saying that I read Lisa McMann’s Wake at the same time as I read Teen Idol by Meg Cabot, The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson, Remember Me by Sophia Kinsella, and a biography of Emily Post by Laura Claridge.  That last one didn’t really affect my ability to fully process Wake, but the others all caused a bit of confusion.

I generally find myself reading four or five books at once, and I’m usually good at keeping them straight.  This situation was really no different, but I think the fact that I reading so many lighthearted books kept me from delving fully into the darker aspects of Wake.

I recently flipped through it a second time in order to refresh my memory and write this post.  In doing so, I found myself pulled into several of the plot elements a bit deeper than I had been before.

The basic story is a pretty unique idea.  Janie, a girl from the wrong side of town finds herself sucked into the dreams of anyone sleeping in her near vicinty.  Unable to dream on her own, she finds herself powerless when pulled from her waking life into people’s innermost subconscience.  That is, until a series of events have her searching frantically for control.  Control of the dreams and, perhaps more crucially, control of her own life.  With the help of Cabel, a boy she’s known most of her life, who has more dark secrets than even she, and some cryptic words from an elderly woman in the nursing home where she works, Janie finds her curiousity about herself growing as she starts to take control of her environment, sleeping and waking.

Blurb finished, let me lay out a few things:

  • Yes, there is sex, swearing and a profusion of illicit substances.  No, this book is not “bad” because of that.  But if you’re sensitive to such things, go into Wake with the knowledge that your innocence may be slightly tampered with.
  • I wasn’t a fan of the ending.  I don’t want to ruin the book for readers, so I won’t say WHY I wasn’t a fan of the ending.  Suffice it to say that most of my problems could be reseolved by the second and third installments of the book.  I feel Janie’s story is unfinished.  But that’s good, because it left me really wanting to read Fade, the sequel, due out February 10, 2009.

On to the real commentary…

nytwakeThis was a subtly dark book.  The characters were real enough that the reader could connect to them, despite the slightly supernatural element, but not so real that they were either boring or too complicated.  McMann wrote this book very skillfully.  It is not the least bit overwritten.  The dream sequences (a very difficult thing to write well) came out nicely, capturing the oddness of dreams, but not turning into a pure stream-of-consiousness muddle. 

Janie is a great character.  I love the combination of her determination to get out of her life and her realistic understanding of her options.  She knows she has to work hard to rise above her circumstances, but she’s not a  one-dimensional goody-two-shoes who never has any fun. 

I really like the cast of supporting characters as well, Carrie and Melinda especially.  I love the fact that everyone, no matter how seemingly one-dimensional on the surface, has a secret.  Janie’s ability to know the others’ secrets, without exploiting them provides a great level of subtext that is sometimes lacking from paranormal books.

Cabel, on the other hand, I still need to decide about.  I think I like him.  I liked him at first, but his character kind of confuses me right now.  I need to wait to make a decision about my overall feelings towards him.  Yet another reason to look forward to Fade.

As I mentioned earlier in the week, Lisa McMann is holding a competition for reviews of Wake, so if you haven’t read it, and your interest is at all piqued, I definitely say a) pick up the book and get started, because it’s a great read! and b) write a review to submit to the contest!  There are some great prizes being offered!