Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

When We Wake

When We Wake

Karen Healey
Fiction
For ages 12 and up
Little Brown, 2013   ISBN: 978-0316200769

Tegan gets to enjoy her first real relationship with a boy for exactly a day. For one day all is right with the world and she has Dalamar’s love. Then, without any warning, her life comes to an end. Literally. Tegan is attending a rally when a sniper, who was aiming for the Prime Minster, shoots Tegan instead and the sixteen-year-old dies.

   One hundred years later Tegan wakes up in a government facility. Before she died, Tegan signed an organ donation form, never imagining that her entire body would be frozen as part of a cryogenics experiment. She is the first person to be revived successfully. Though the idea that anyone could wake up after being dead is pretty amazing, in reality waking up in the future is complicated. Everyone Tegan loved is long dead and the world is a very different place. Tegan’s revival was paid for by the military and she is, to all intents and purposes, their property, but she does not want to be kept in a compound forever. She wants to start living again.

   Wanting Tegan to be able to have as normal a life as possible, Tegan’s doctor, Dr. Marie Carmen, arranges to become her guardian. Tegan goes to live in Marie’s house and arrangements are made so that she can start attending school again. At first Tegan is pleased by the changes that have taken place in the world during her ‘absence.’ She loves the new computers and the new green technologies. When she starts school she starts to appreciate that life in Australia and elsewhere in 2127 is not as rosy as it appears.

   There is a very strong anti-immigrant policy in Australia, and even immigrants who are given temporary visas are treated badly. Around the globe sea levels are rising, the weather is getting more unpredictable and dangerous, countless species are extinct, new diseases are spreading, fresh water is hard to find, and conflicts are flaring up in many places. In short, life on planet Earth is no picnic.

   One of the terms of Tegan’s release from the government facility was that Tegan had to be willing to give government sanctioned press conferences. She is not keen on the idea, but when she is told that a press event is planned, she goes along with it. She says and does all the right things. Until she loses her temper. Then Tegan starts talking about a number of controversial issues and causes a big ruckus. Tegan’s furious military handler announces that he is going to take her back to the government facility, which is when Tegan decides that the only thing she can do is to run away.

   In this powerful and wonderfully written novel, the author takes her readers to a future that has enough that is familiar with our present that it is very convincing and therefore rather frightening. Despite the bizarre circumstances of her new life, Tegan is down to earth and we cannot help growing very fond of her as she tries to learn new slang terms, make friends, and come to terms with her new life. 

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