Book review: ‘Wake’ by Lisa McMann

Well. Wake by Lisa McMann. There you are. Here I am.

We’re not friends.

We never will be.

It’s been a while since I actively disliked a book as much as this one, friends.

Here’s our premise: Janie is a 17-year-old with a mysterious ability to slip into others’ dreams. When someone falls asleep within a certain radius, Janie is sucked into their nightmares — death; fire; falling; sex — and must stand nearby as they all beg for her help. Her unwanted, uncontrollable condition is akin to having regular seizures.

After she begins talking to Cabel, a loner rumored to be a druggie, Janie slowly lets her guard down and starts to give Cabe a foothold in her life. No one else discusses her alcoholic mother or her strange black-outs; no one else sees the secrets that have haunted her since childhood. And Janie is discovering that Cabe has secrets of his own . . .

So, none of this worked for me. We get this story from an awkward present-tense, third-person vantage point that never let me get close to the characters or plot, and the incredibly sparse language did nothing but annoy me. McMann’s short phrases and chapters, diary-like in nature, felt like rapid-fire pelts against my skull. The lack of descriptions and jarring transitions between the “real world” and the “dream world” felt strange — and though I’m sure the author intended it that way, I hated constantly switching between reality and nightmares. It was boring.

This book is a fast read — I finished it in two days, and that was with wanting to chuck it at the wall a few times. I finished because I was already tearing through it and, to be honest, I was waiting for things to get interesting. For me, they never did — not even with a bombshell towards the end. Plus? The language here was atrocious. I know everyone’s quick to pull out “But this is how teens talk!” card but, honestly? Don’t care. I don’t need to see the F-bomb dropped on every other page, nor am I interested in the sex lives of teenagers. I don’t care if that’s how they talk and blah blah blah I’m so old and out of touch with the world blah blah — I just don’t want it. Don’t like it.

The romance between Janie and Cabel left me cold, and I wasn’t interested in the back stories of these characters — or any others. Just . . . not into it. I know I’m being mean and I should try harder to be balanced, but I just wasn’t a fan.

One star for being, you know, a bestselling book; one star for attempts at a creative plot involving dream catching. But I’m sorry, Wake; it’s over between us. Don’t make this any more difficult than it has to be.

But don’t take my word as gospel! There are lots of readers who rave about this one, including Book Reviews By Crystal, Karin’s Book Nook, YA Reads and Harmony Book Reviews. And, you know, many reviewers on LibraryThing and Goodreads. So I’m the weirdo, but that’s all right.

2 out of 5!

ISBN: 1416974474 ♥ GoodreadsLibraryThingAmazonAuthor Website
Personal copy purchased by Meg

11 thoughts on “Book review: ‘Wake’ by Lisa McMann

  1. Is this part of a series? I was thinking it was, but either way I don’t think I’m interested. I have had similar problems with YA dialogue. I really don’t care if that is how they talk, I think it is inane and it makes me crazy. I’ll take YA that isn’t dumbed down, thanks. I appreciate the head’s up on this one!


    • It is part of a series, Sandy — there are two more books after this one: Fade and Gone, but I can’t imagine ever going any further. Glad to know I’m not alone in the terrible-language-YA camp!


  2. i love it when you bomb a book but still manage to do it with diplomacy and grace. 🙂 also, that you managed to muster up 2 stars for it despite wanting to toss it at a wall. you crack me up. i almost want to read it just to see how bad it is…


  3. Hahaha aww. I’ve been iffy to read this series because I know of a few who’ve really liked it… glad to know there are those out there who didn’t like it! Great imput!


  4. Hey, props for the negative review. You know why they make the SAT so hard that 1600 scores are rare? So we can tell the difference between the 1550’s and the 1580’s. It’s important to have high standards and be willing to flunk students, and books, so we can see the broad range of quality with all its subtle differences. That said, I’m always a little bothered (or suspicious) when someone gives all A’s, or all good reviews. Some books suck! Tell me which ones they are!

    Also props for diplomacy as natalie said. There’s room in this world for all kinds of tastes – as I tell my library patrons, it’s a good thing we DON’T all like the same thing. The lines would be soooo long.

    I’ve written several negative reviews recently so maybe I’m just making myself feel better 🙂 but I appreciate your review.


  5. I personally enjoyed this one (though it isn’t one of my favorites) but I still appreciated how you managed to write your review, in a very honest manner. I can see why you didn’t like it, and honestly it seems to be one of these books that either works, or doesn’t. Having read the complete series, and even having enjoyed them somewhat, I’m not sure I would read more by the author unless there was some big difference to it.


  6. Thank you for this wonderful giveaway!

    My mom has been sick, so I never got around to signing up to participate in the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop. I have a June Giveaway going on this month at my blog, and I’d love to invite you to stop by and throw your name in the hat for this book! It’s a US giveaway only this month, but next month, I’ll be offering an international giveaway for an Amazon card.

    If you follow my blog, let me know. I always follow back.


  7. I have seen rave reviews for this series all over the place and while I agree that the premise sounds really interesting and unique, I never really the need to read it. Now I feel okay about that! Sorry this one didn’t work for you, but hey at least over and out of your life quickly, right?


Comments are closed.