When We Wake by Karen Healey

What do you think the world would be like if you fell asleep right now and woke up in 100 years time?  Would the world be incredibly technologically advanced or would it be ravaged by an apocalyptic event?  Would people be more tolerant of differences in race, ethnicity and sexuality? Karen Healey shows us her version of a future in earth in her latest book, When We Wake, about the first person to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived.

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 person to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity – though all she wants is to rebuild some semblance of a normal life … including spending as much time as possible with musically gifted Abdi, even if he does seem to hate the sight of her. 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?

When We Wake has everything a great science fiction story should have – mystery, action, actual science, a future world, cool technology, and a main character who you route for right from the start.  Karen keeps you guessing and her writing is fast-paced so you want to keep reading so you can find out how it ends.

It’s a sign of a great character when you connect with them as soon as they start talking.  Karen hooked me in from the first paragraph and I wanted to know everything about Teegan and the insane situation that she finds herself in.  You empathise with her because you know how strange and difficult it would be to adapt to a different world. The more you find out about her and the sort of person she is, the more I liked her.  She’s the sort of person who won’t be pushed around and told what to do.  Even though she’s told by the army and various religious groups that her life doesn’t belong to her she does everything to prove them wrong.  She’s not concerned about making a spectacle, even when she’s being broadcast to millions of people around the world.  Other people try to force their morals and ethics on to Teegan, but she has her own strong opinions and no one is going to change those.

One of the things that really stood out for me in When We Wake was the way that Karen brought the future society’s moral and ethical views into the story.  Many science fiction stories (especially for teens) don’t delve into these aspects of future worlds so it made Karen’s feel fresh and different.  Through Teegan you see how the future society’s views of religion, ethnicity, and sexuality have changed, and how, even with massive climate change, people still aren’t looking after the planet.  Like today’s society, many of the people in charge of this future earth have questionable morals and ethics, and it’s these that shape the story.

5 out of 5 stars

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