Review: Wake by Lisa McMann

Blurb taken from Lisa McMann’s official website:

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….

I wasn’t sure about the style of writing when I first started to read Wake – the short sequences that are stamped in time date which repeats itself in a pattern throughout the book. But after a while, I got used to the style and it ties in with the sort of surreal tone Wake has.

Wake starts off with sequences dating back to when Janie, the heroine, was a child, and then to the present day where Janie is 17 years old and in high school.  Janie is working her socks off at school to gain her grades, working whatever shifts she can get at a Nursing Home for money to go to college, and perhaps even getting a scholarship as she doesn’t have any money. Janie has an alcoholic mother who doesn’t have a job and drinks herself to oblivion day and night without care or thought for her child. Before I continue, I would like to say this: Seriously, I would love to read a YA book that features a parent who’s loving and takes care of their child as a responsible adult. Somebody needs to break the curse that seems to have taken hold of YA’s lately with awful parents featuring predominantly in the books.

So because of her alcoholic mother, Janie has learned to be self-sufficient from an early age, and relies on nobody but herself for help. Janie has brought herself up and she doesn’t let herself get overly close to anyone – especially when they are sleeping! Otherwise Janie will get sucked into their dreams, ones that she can either bring herself out of slowly, or terrible and frightening nightmares that leave Janie paralysed, frozen and numb. The latter dreams are happening more often, and Janie is starting to lose control. In Wake, not only does Janie have to cope with these terrifying dreams, but she has to cope without having any family support and with the fear of never truly being happy with this affliction of hers.

I found Wake to be a good read, albeit dark in tone with Janie’s emotions on a downward spiral for most of the book. In a way, I found Janie to be a one dimensional character, in the sense that her character was so consumed with these nightmares and dealing with them, that I felt that she wasn’t fully fleshed out. There is a big TSTL moment that the heroine does in this book that actually angered me. Janie is driving down a street where she gets sucked into a nightmare. After crashing the car, she continues to drive on afterwards despite knowing the same could happen again. Stupid.stupid.stupid. The romance with Cable was sort of angsty, and while I enjoyed their story, there was nothing out of the ordinary that differentiates it from other YA romances. And also, IMO, it would be great to read a YA hero who is not predictably mysterious. I wasn’t too sure about the ending, and what Cable and Janie will be doing for the police as it didn’t seem to gel.

But what did differentiate this book overall is the surreal tone. Despite clichéd characters, this book’s premise is unique and the surreal tone saved Wake from blending into other YA books.

I give Wake 3.5 out of 5.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster UK for sending me this review copy.

2 thoughts on “Review: Wake by Lisa McMann”

  1. Thanks, Janicu. 😀

    It’s a very interesting premise, and the dreams are sort of surreal, but it works.

    It just seems to be the norm these days in YA books, to have parents with terrible and awful parenting skills. I mean, the mother is totally non existent in Janie’s life.

    I’ll pick up the second in the series to see how things turn out. And the third — and I think last — in the series was just released, or is about to be released.

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