An Intriguing, Fast Paced Plot That Gets a Little Confusing | Review: Wake by Lisa McMann

5:30 AM

Quarantine's got me binge-reading old favourites and series that I've wanted to get to for a long time. That's right: it's time to FINALLY dive into Wake by Lisa McMann. (Side note: I read the second book back in the day. Don't ask me why I only read the middle book in the trilogy. High school Jessica had no clue, I guess?)

by Lisa McMann 

For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people's dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie's seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.

She can't tell anybody about what she does they'd never believe her, or worse, they'd think she's a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn't want and can't control.

Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else's twisted psyche. She is a participant.

 Fade | Gone 

Wake by Lisa McMann 

Okay, so, before everyone starts (rightfully) throwing tomatoes and other vegetables at me, hear me out: I love Lisa McMann. A LOT. And have for around a decade. My feelings towards Wake are, uh, lukewarm at best? I think that, yes, if I had read this in order and as a teenager I would be a lot more fond of it. (If I remember correctly the second book was electrifying and I gave it five stars when I read it, even though I didn't read this one.)

But, I didn't read it then, and Wake just... didn't thoroughly impress me? My biggest issue with Wake is the way we're just blindly tossed into the plotline with no real knowledge of what's going on. This doesn't always work for me and in the case of this novel, it REALLY doesn't. There's very little time spent on the hows and the whys, and instead it feels like Wake spends the most of its time throwing us into a plot and not really explaining it.

Janie, our main character, has no real knowledge of why she can stumble into the dreams of others. So, at least, we aren't alone in this thrust of confusion and context. Still, it wasn't something I could bring myself to fully overlook.

It can feel a little incoherent at times. The premise is thrilling and promising; the right mix of danger and magic. (Add in your standard teenage angst and hormones. A little sarcasm here.) But, mot of the time, it just lacks the extra kick that is necessary to make the narration flow easier. Minimal world building is Wake's biggest flaw. Its strongest quality is its witty dialogue, and the fact that these characters sound like teenagers from the era it takes place in.

Where the world-building lacks, the character development soars and is what I stayed for. Wake felt very much so like it would lean on its mystery--the powers of our main character--but at the end of the day, it felt more character driven than anything. Wake sets the stage for a promising future and because of this, I'll be rereading the sequel.

Admittedly, I did struggle with Wake more than I connected with it. Lisa McMann makes the case for my attention by the final half of the novel, though, and picks up the pace a little more urgently. If anything, it was a quick and entertaining read!

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