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