Tuesday, June 17, 2008


The protagonist of Lisa McMann’s debut young adult novel, Wake, has a unique talent/curse. Janie Hannagan discovers at eight years old that she can enter other people’s dreams. Although these dreams reveal interesting information—crushes, fears, desires—they also keep Janie from her own sleep and send her into a seizure-like state at the most inopportune moments, like during study hall.

In her senior year of high school, Janie finally meets Cabel, a classmate who seems to understand her. But Cabel has disturbing dreams of his own and may not be what he appears. Janie struggles to control her powers while battling the strong feelings she has for Cabel.

The novel’s premise is fascinating, and McMann has a unique, fast-paced style of writing. As such, the book is a quick and entertaining read. It does contain strong language and frank sexual talk (after all, Janie does enter teenager’s dreams).

Unfortunately, the premise also has one important (and rather vital) weakness. It functions on the supposition that dreams reflect reality. When Janie enters a dream, she reacts as if she is entering the dreamer’s memory. I remember my dreams quite well, and they rarely reflect my reality: past, present, or future. They may reveal something about my psyche, but they do not reflect actual events.

The story may have been better served if Janie could read someone’s thoughts instead of dreams (ala Unbreakable). If you are willing to suspend your disbelief, though, Wake is an enjoyable pleasure read.

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