Author: Katie Kacvinsky
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publish Date: May 23, 2011
Genre: YA, dystopian
2. Middle Ground (expected pub Fall 2012)
Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.
Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.
In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.
I thought more of this book was going to take place with the main character behind a computer screen, but there was actually a lot of the “real world” as well. Maddie’s father is the creator of Digital School (DS) which enables kids to attend school 100% on their computers. On top of that, people can get food delivered to their front door, use virtual reality to go on dates, go for runs on the treadmill, be a part of social groups around the world, and more. No one sees the point to leaving their house anymore. Why would they? It has been deemed unsafe because of all the school shootings and bombings that were happening.
It was great that we got to see this story through Maddie’s eyes. She goes through so many changes throughout this book, it’s really inspiring. It shows you that people can change and even make a difference. Justin really is the best character, though. He’s been raised as a rebel to DS. He shows Maddie the benefits of living in the real world. He constantly has inspirational, thought-provoking things to say to Maddie to help her crack out of her shell. He’s a really complex character, too. He’s pretty much the leader of the rebels and takes this responsibility very seriously. He won’t think of himself. Ever. So Maddie gets frustrated with him when she starts falling for him.
The story is eye-opening. It’s kind of scary because if you really think about it, this dystopian world isn’t that farfetched. It could happen. People could pull away and spend their lives on the computer. Never leave their houses. Live beside the same people for 15 years and never meet. And the fact that Justin spent the whole book showing and convincing Maddie of the great things the real world has that the virtual one doesn’t really showed me as a reader how great some things are. Things we take for granted. Like watching the sun set. Touching people. Using body language in communication. It kind of makes you want to put down your smartphone and go camping. Or go to a bar where life is happening. Seriously.
AWAKEN is an amazing book that really opens your eyes to the technology around you and how it is too easy to become dependent on technology and neglect face-to-face human interactions. I'm excited to see where Katie takes Maddie and Justin's story next. Definitely recommend it to everyone.