Today I was working quietly at my desk while my students were taking their standardized tests, and I began wishing I had my mind reader with me so they could see my thoughts without me having to interrupt them. Except, there is one problem. I don't have a mind reader, since, well, they're not real. (Please understand that doesn't keep me from wanting one.) Mind readers are just one of the super advanced pieces of technology characters inside Katie Kacvinsky's Awaken.
Awaken tells the story of Maddie, a seventeen year old girl who lives completely plugged in to technology. Maddie and most young people in 2060 experience nearly everything in their lives through the lens of technology. This shift began after school violence reached a terrifying level in America. As a response to this extreme violence, Maddie's father pioneered an alternative called Digital School. As it grew, Digital School became a requirement rather than an alternative. Because of Digital School's success students now experience everything from studying for tests to chilling at coffee houses online with no face to face connections...pretty much ever.
Even though this renewed safety eased the minds of many, it began to change the way people lived their lives. Technology began to take over every aspect of people's lives. People didn't know how to be "unplugged". And as you may have guessed it, people began to oppose Digital School and how it changed the lives of everyone. Enter Justin.
Justin is part of a group trying to change society's dependence on technology. He's intense; he's focused; he's mysterious. Of course Maddie begins to fall for him, because really, who wouldn't? But, there is much more to Justin than a rebellious desire and a cute grin.
I really like this book because it deals with two issues in our society: school violence and technological dependence. Katie Kacvinsky is a former English teacher, and I can certainly feel her heart for teens and school when I read Awaken. Thankfully, the follow up to Awaken called Middle Ground is due out the Fall of 2012. She also has a novel entitled First Comes Love that sounds amazing as well.