wake lisa mcmannWake by Lisa McMann

Published by: Simon & Schuster

Format: Paperback

Genre: YA, Urban Fantasy, Romance

Order at: Amazon

Reviewed by: Abbi

What to expect: A weird power/curse, depending on your point of view. Realistic teen angst. The beginning of a trilogy about a girl who catches dreams.

Plot: For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people’s dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie’s seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.

She can’t tell anybody about what she does — they’d never believe her, or worse, they’d think she’s a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn’t want and can’t control.

Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else’s twisted psyche. She is a participant….

Review: This book has a charming premise, and even more charming dialogue—there’s no question that it’s at its best when its teenage protagonist interacts with other teenagers. I have a pet peeve about teen characters waxing poetic about anything, and especially in regard to their romantic interests. Thankfully, there’s no melodramatic declarations of love in Wake. Janie and her crush, Cabel, behave like any adolescent would-be couple does; they’re awkward, they stutter, they’re clumsy when they flirt. They unwittingly offend each other. They swear quite a bit. It can be frustrating, but in a way that’s completely believable

I do think the writing style might be divisive. It can be hard to get used to—the first few chapters are disjointed and very exposition heavy, and the author’s fondness for short sentences can make it read even more unnaturally. That said, as someone who usually detests the overuse of tiny sentences, this just worked for me. Although it may take some time to adjust to, the prose has a distinctly musical quality that is very compelling. It flows beautifully when all rules of writing say it shouldn’t, and keeps you reading until it’s over.

The plot itself, however, leaves a little something to be desired. Like…a plot. I enjoy the world and the atmosphere and the characters, and since Wake is such a short read (at only 200 pages) it doesn’t feel completely bogged down by the fact that there really is no plot. But it’s still very noticeable. This book reads like the prologue for a bigger story; as the first novel in a trilogy, it probably is. Throughout, there are vestiges of what this book could be—avenues I would have liked to go down, but are only touched on superficially. Only at the very end is the reader clued in on what may take place in the rest of the trilogy. It’s an interesting concept—Janie, armed with her power to get pulled into people’s dreams, would dive into the subconscious of criminals and try to interpret where the money is stashed; where the body is buried; etc—but sadly underutilized in the trilogy’s first installment.

Overall, I think Wake is worth the read. It’s pretty easy to power through, and has plenty of redeeming qualities, even if it ends up not being your thing.

What you might not like: The thin plot is the biggest offender.

What you will love: Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue. Seriously, I smiled every time someone said anything. Even simply adding an “uh” or some kind of obscenity to punctuate otherwise mundane sentences goes a long way to make everything feel real. If you pick up Wake looking for authentic characters and can forgive its strange pacing and plot, you shouldn’t be disappointed.

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