Wake by Lisa McMann

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Wake by Lisa McMann

Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A thoroughly enjoying thriller mixing a first love story with a crime caper thriller and a supernatural element of telepathy through dreams. It's not perfect by any means, but it holds the attention marvellously and the central character is great.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: October 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 1847385036

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Janie is seventeen and studying hard for college. She's also working lots of hours at a local nursing home to earn money for college as it's unlikely her alcoholic mother is going to provide much in the way of resources. College is Janie's only chance at a life better than the one she's lived so far and so you can't blame her for being so single-minded in the pursuit of her goal.

Only one thing stands in her way, and it's a big thing. Janie is tired of being sucked into other people's dreams. It's been happening since she was just eight years old and it's getting worse. If she's anywhere near a sleeping person, then bam! - she's dreaming with them. It wouldn't be so bad if it was only kissing-the-best-boy-in-school dreams or the naked-in-public dreams, but it isn't. It's the nightmares too, and when the dreamers see her and ask for her help, it's very tough to take. Cabel's dreams are the most disturbing and as the two of them inch towards a first romance, it shows Janie that he has deep and dark secrets that might threaten everything, even college...

When I came to think about what I'd say in this review, I realised I had a surprising number of criticisms to make. Wake mixes a great many elements in its few pages - there's a supernatural aspect in Janie's telepathy through dreams, there's a kitchen sink drama going on in her neglectful home life, there's a first love story, there's a comedy of manners, and a thriller-come-crime-caper too. It's a lot to blend successfully, and while McCann succeeds more often than not, there are some moments where the whole thing gets a bit schizophrenic. The thriller element of the plot is sometimes moved on through things Janie sees in other people's dreams and this seems somewhat cheaty. Dreams are oblique and seldom direct representations of our waking lives and y'know, however supernaturally talented you are, it's unlikely criminals are going to give you such direct clues when you invade their dreams. This needed to be much more subtle for real success I think.

However, the main thing that I took away from Wake was a feeling that I'd thoroughly enjoyed the read - and not wanted to put down the book while I was reading - and so these problems are far outweighed by the positives. Janie is a sterling central character: feisty and determined but beset with doubts, and doing her best to overcome her disadvantaged background. McCann communicates her mother's neglect vividly and touchingly, with a great sense for the kinds of childhood humilations that we all carry with us throughout our adult lives. The love story is sweet and affecting and truly believable. The writing is efficient and punchy and pacy, and we're never mired in pages and pages of digression, something I really appreciate.

This is the first in a series and I think it's going to be a very enjoyable one.

My thanks to the nice people at Simon & Schuster for sending the book.

Dreams also feature in the wonderful Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd. I can also see teens who enjoyed Wake also enjoying Deathwatch by Nicola Morgan. Slightly younger readers will find the dream world in Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr very spooky indeed.

Buy Wake by Lisa McMann at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wake by Lisa McMann at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Wake by Lisa McMann at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wake by Lisa McMann at Amazon.com.


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