My name is Tegan Oglietti, and on the last day of my first lifetime, I was so, so happy.
Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027–she’s happiest when playing the guitar, she’s falling in love for the first time, and she’s joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice.
But on what should have been the best day of Tegan’s life, she dies–and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.
Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity–even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn’t all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?
Award-winning author Karen Healey has created a haunting, cautionary tale of an inspiring protagonist living in a not-so-distant future that could easily be our own.
This is my second book by Karen Healey, and after The Shattering I was very excited to read something else by this author. I thought The Shattering was a really good contemporary with a slight paranormal bent, and I was looking for some good sci-fi out of this book. I wasn’t disappointed, which makes me happy. And it takes place in Australia and I have yet to read a bad book set in Australia/New Zealand or written by an Aussie/NZ writer. Pretty much every one so far has been a home run.
As it says in the blurb – so this is not a spoiler – Tegan dies and is revived 100 years later. As you can imagine, she has a bit of a difficult time coming to grips with this. To her, it feels like mere moments have passed…like she fell asleep briefly and woke up to find that everyone she has ever loved and the world as she knew it is long dead. As you can probably also imagine, this makes Tegan an extremely sympathetic character. While at times she comes dangerously close to petulant, I really couldn’t help but forgive her because I wouldn’t have done nearly as well as she did under the same circumstances. I literally would have locked myself in some kind of hyperbaric chamber with a week’s supply of Ben & Jerry’s (you know it’ll still be around 100 years from now, probably still making delicious flavors that will annoy the hell out of you because they’re “limited edition” or only sold in certain stores). The secondary characters are also strong here. Even ones that I was initially sure I wasn’t going to like turned out to be wonderful and for the most part pretty well-developed.
It’s worth mentioning that there is quite a bit of social commentary here, some of it subtle and some less so. Healey has plenty to say on the state of our world, the state of our politics (those of the world collectively and those of Australia), and our behavior toward our fellow man and the path that it’s leading us down. It’s extremely well done and it never came off as preachy to me at all, but it may rub some readers who are of certain political or religious persuasions the wrong way if they’re very sensitive. It does touch on a lot of the issues that the world is currently having in terms of environment, social persecution, religion, etc.
What I found most interesting is that in Healey’s version of the world 100 years from now, things are different but also the same. Things are better in some ways but significantly worse in others. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but while there is a lot of advancement socially, the world collectively has reaped what it has sewn.
There were a few loose ends at the end of the book that I would have liked to have seen tied up better, but considering the way the book ends I can see why they were kind of left dangling as it added an additional element to the story.
Overall, When We Wake is a fun, quick read but it has a deeper message as well. And I really loved how each chapter is titled after a Beatles song – the Beatles are Tegan’s favorite band (and yes, they’re still around 100 years from now).