Katie Kacvinsky: Awaken (Awaken, #1)
4 stars

Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her. 

Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.

In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.
“Don't worry about hurting me, if that's what you're afraid of. I want to get hurt. At least I´ll feel something for a change.”

Katie Kacvinsky's debut novel, Awaken, takes us to the year 2060, where people's lives are almost entirely online. People go to school online, meet friends online and go on a date online. Real trees and grass are very rare and have been replaced with plastic ones. There are no more physical books; people read them in digital format. People no longer cook food, but eat tasteless energy bars, where they receive all the nutrients needed. People do not even know what their neighbors look like, because they have never met them face to face.

That is the world where Maddie lives and she is relatively satisfied in life, until she meets Justin, who shows her a different way to live, in the real world. Justin is in fact one of the rebels, who are fighting against the ever increasing digital live. But everything isn't that simple, as Maddie's father is the developer of digital school, and the largest of its advocate. Maddie is confused and does not know what would be the right way to live. On the other hand, she enjoys her digital life, but at the same time misses real people and real life. And Maddie's past isn't absolutely spotless either. Nearly three years ago, she hacked her father's computer's secret information and gave them to the rebels, with catastrophic consequences. Maddie is on probation until her 18th birthday, and if she makes even one wrong move, she is at risk of going into a detention center where people go to "rehabilitation".

I think this book is an incredibly great example of what our society is perhaps going. A rather frightening example. In Maddie's world, people's whole life is online; we are luckily not quite there. The reality, however, is that Facebook and other social media are pushing our society toward it all the time. We pay bills online and without e-mail address life is almost impossible. For example, many of the bills come in there, and no longer physically in mailbox or post office. We order stuff online and I myself have studied online. At least in Finland it is possible to carry out the whole high school online, so that only the tests will take place at the school doing them physically. In fact, I did not even know what my teachers looked like, because I never met them. I'm not complaining about that, 'cos at same time I was studying also elsewhere, so it would've been impossible to be in two places at once, but it's frightening to think that maybe in the future it's the only way to go to school.

The story was well written and the characters are extremely interesting. The plot was written nicely, so that, for example, Justin and Maddie's past and motives are not revealed at once, but bit by bit and new aspects of the story unfolds, and the outcome or the reality was not quite what it seemed at the beginning. The back-story, the events and characters hatched into something completely different, what you first thought. There was also some gaps and questions left without answer, which I hope will be revealed in the following books. I myself have at least some theories and a guesses, and I look forward reading the next book to see if I guessed correctly. And, in particular, what Justine's and Maddie's future holds, and if they have any hope to eventually be together.

(Read from my Goodreads tbr-list.)