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Review – Wake by Lisa McMann


by Lisa McMann
210 pages
YA Fiction
Published March 2008

I’d seen such good reviews of Wake by Lisa McMann that I checked it out from the library as opposed to sticking with my resolution to not buy or borrow any more books until my ARC pile is completed. Alas, book diets are hard to keep.

When I originally started blogging, I was having nightmares, and I thought that blogging about them might be fun and amusing. I only blogged about my nightmares a few times, but I get them all the time. So how intrigued was I when I heard about this book, Wake, that was about a girl who was getting sucked into other people’s bad dreams?? Very intrigued! Oh, the potential!

But then I started reading, and the book was, well, choppy. Here’s an example from page 9:

A U-Haul truck pulls up next door. A man, a woman, and a girl Janie’s age (13 <– not in the book, but I thought it was pertinent to the quote) climb out and sink into the snow-covered driveway. Janie watches them from her bedroom window.

The girl is dark-haired and pretty.

Janie wonders if she’ll be snooty, like all the other girls who call Janie white trash at school. Maybe, since this new girl lives next to Janie on the wrong side of town, they’ll call her white trash, too.

But she’s really pretty.

Pretty enough to make a difference.

SEE! So the writing’s choppy, but Natasha said she thought that it worked for the narrator’s age and circumstances, which really got me thinking. Maybe there’s a purpose to this writing. So I checked the author’s blog, and her writing doesn’t seem to be choppy, so she obvs did this on purpose!


It still irritated me.

The story’s very simple: Janie gets sucked into other people’s dreams (which isn’t very convenient in math class, since she flops around like she’s spasming), and she watches the dream play out again and again, and even though she wants to help people, she appears to be helpless. Then she gets sucked into a really scary dream that freaks her out, because this guy turns into a monster and kills this other guy. EEK! All of a sudden voyeurism isn’t fun anymore.

I just think that the story could have been so much more. You know how when you bake something and it doesn’t turn out perfect? And other people love it and don’t notice the difference, but you know that your product could have been so much better? That’s how I feel with Wake. But perhaps the problem is with me, since I read this on the heels of The Hunger Games, which I loved so much that I wanted to have it’s babies, but I couldn’t because litcest (kind of like incest, but not) is illegal.

I’ll definitely be reading the sequel, Fade, so maybe the book did do what it set out to accomplish: it hooked me!

Rating: 84 out of 100

Check out the author’s website.

Buy the book at Powell’s, Amazon, or any other bookstore.

Other reviews:

Presenting Lenore

A Patchwork of Books

Maw Books Blog (and an Author interview)

Book Adorer

Karin’s Book Bytes

The Story Siren

| Tags: , , , , , , , 21 comments »

21 Responses to “Review – Wake by Lisa McMann”

  1. Natasha @ Maw Book

    I do think she did it on purpose. And I think it works. Janie basically survives minute to minute, never knowing when she’s going to be pulled into somebody else’s dream. One episode to the next. I think the writing does a good job reflecting that. If you didn’t like her writing style in this one, than I wouldn’t read Fade, because you’ll just be bugged to death. I’ve finished Fade but I haven’t reviewed yet. I think the series as huge YA appeal.


  2. Sadako

    I kind of like the excerpt you included. Plus, the book does sound like it’s got a cool idea, so maybe I’ll like it. Hopefully, anyway!


  3. Amy @ My Friend Amy

    Maybe one day…but choppy writing bugs the crud out of me.


  4. bermudaonion

    Since you want to read the next one, it can’t be that bad.


  5. Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)

    Great, honest review! I like the concept as well. I think I’ll reserve judgment until I read it. Though this will have to wait a long while.


  6. Meghan

    I definitely think that while style can match and enhance a book’s theme or genre, it might not fit with a particular reader. I don’t particularly like choppy writing myself and I read a book recently that was so bad I couldn’t get through it because of this very issue, but it depends on the person and the book. I think I’m still interested, but I’ll be thinking about this while reading.


  7. LynnS/AAR

    I’ve been curious about this book since I think the concept is really interesting. Choppy writing doesn’t really bug me that much as long as the story is a good one. Still, I’m not sure I want to jump this one up to the top of the TBR heap.


  8. Jeanne

    I think I’ll find a copy of this one and give it to my 15-1/2 year old, who is fascinated by dreams, to see what she thinks of it.


  9. zibilee

    I don’t think I will go for this one. The idea seems like a good one, but I don’t think I could deal with the choppy writing. Like the poster above, I may consider it for my daughter though, she isn’t really picky with writing style, and loves books that scare the pants off her


  10. Liz

    Good to know! I’ve been wanting to read that.


  11. Alyce

    I’m just dropping by to let you know that I’ve given you an award!


  12. Jeane

    I know I’ve read of a book before where the main character experienced other’s dreams, but this one sounds unfamiliar, so I’m wondering what the other one was…

    That writing style would bore or irritate me, I fear.
    And hey, I just gave you a blog award!


  13. Staci

    Well, I really really liked the first one but the second just didn’t do it for me. I’m going to do my review tomorrow or Saturday I think. I can see where the YA audience would like it though.


  14. charley

    I had trouble with the writing, too. In the beginning, I kept having to go back and re-read previous pages to make sure I was following the story correctly.


  15. Lisa

    I read this one last night and it was great for the read-a-thon but I totally agree with your review. It COULD have been so much better. She had a great idea, but didn’t execute it that well.

    I’ll review it later this week but wanted to see what other people thought.


  16. Maddie

    I personally LOVED this book. Yes, even the “choppy” writting stlye McMann used in this book. Everything she wrote was straight to the piont without a bunch of useless details. I liked it.;] I thought it was a great plot, and I will absolutely be buying the next books in the series.


  17. Sarah

    I personally loved Wake and Fade. And I loved them because she writes so beautifully, and different. It’s like no style I’ve read before. I think the opposite. Her baking was flawless and on purpose.


  18. Sarah

    It wowed me!


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