Of all the books I've read this past month (around 40), Wake, by Lisa McMann, was the page-turniest, grippingest of them all. I am very glad that I woke up early this morning and read it cover to cover before my Dear Children awoke, because I would have not have been happy to put it down! (Although I would, of course, have done so with a smile...and gone into the kitchen to prepare nutritious breakfasts etc. etc.)
17 year-old Janie falls into other peoples dreams. In high-school, surrounded by sleep-deprived classmates, Janie suffers.
"A boy named Jack Tomlinson falls asleep in English class. Janie watches his head nodding from across the room. She begins to sweat, even though the room is cold. It is 11:41 a.m. Seven minutes until the bell rings for lunch. Too much time."
Because Janie, even though still awake, would have to dream right along with him.
But much worse than suffering through the humiliations and sexual fantasies of her classmates is the nightmare that finds her when she is driving home from work one night. And this worst dream of all belong to Caleb, a boy she finds herself drawn too...
Janie struggles to control her dreaming, struggles to understand Caleb and his secrets, and suffers. It doesn't help that she's poor, with an alcoholic mom. Caleb is the only person she knows who might bring her out of her own personal nightmare, but he seems caught in a nightmarish situation of his own...
Like I said, this was a page turner-I read it in less than an hour. It moves so briskly in part because it is written in third person present, in short sentences and episodes that take Janie back and forth from dream to reality. I think this was an absolutely brilliant choice of tense and voice--the reader is present with Janie moment by moment, but not inside her head--just like Janie's situation when she's stuck in other peoples' dreams.
And I liked Janie and Caleb. They didn't get a chance to do a whole heck of a lot besides dreaming (and a bit of, um, other stuff in a (very) mild YAish sort of way), but neither of them were whiners, despite having cause (lots of cause). Janie is focused on working her way through college, and doing well in school. She's a good friend, and a caring person.
And I really liked the plot! Suspense, mystery, dreams holding the key to unravelling it, a nice dash of romance-good stuff! It is really easy to imagine this one being recommend from reader to reader. I myself am anxious to read the sequel, Fade (coming in February 2009). A third book will be out in 2010.
Jen had much the same reaction as I did; so did Sarah, at Sarah's Random Musings, and here's a review by one of my Cybil's co-panelists, at The Compulsive Reader.
And now I am going to be very unselfish and tell you that there is a "freaking huge contest" at Lisa McMann's blog (ending Nov. 25, 2008) in which I would really like to be a winner....
Wake (2008 , Simon and Schuster) has been nominated for the Cybils Awards in the Sci. Fi./Fantasy category. Thank you, Simon and Schuster, for sending us panelists review copies (and of course for publishing the book in the first place, which always helps).