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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lisa McMann: My New Guilty Pleasure

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Of what, exactly, are dreams made? Memories? Fantasies? Hopes? Fears? Regrets? Desires? A little of each? Seventeen-year-old Janie Hannagan has seen every kind. She's not sure exactly where this special talent came from - the one that lets her roam through other people's dreams - but she's sick to death of it. She's encountered enough monsters, enough lust, enough falling, enough secret wishes to last her ten lifetimes. All she wants is to be normal for once. But with an alcoholic mother, an absent father, and her crazy little secret, Janie's life is about as mundane as a Tim Burton film.

Then, a chance encounter takes her into the terrifying nightmares of a classmate. The violent images in his head shake her to the core. Even more horrifying is the fact that sexy Cabel Strumheller sees her in his dream. And remembers seeing her. That never, ever happens. Janie's terrified of the monster in Cabel's head, but even more frightened that he'll realize what a freak she is. She can't let anyone know the truth. Cabel doesn't seem to be the secret-spiller type - after all, he's hiding some big ones of his own - but she can't be sure. As her dreamwalking intensifies, endangering Janie's job, schooling, life and future, she searches desperately for answers. How can she stop herself from entering the dreamworld? Why does it happen in the first place? And why her, of all people? An offhand experiment will give her clues and show her the real power she possesses. The only question left is: What will she do with it?

I've always been interested in dreams and their meanings, so the premise of Wake by Lisa McMann caught my attention immediately. I loved the whole idea behind the story. I'm not sure what I expected to find inside its pages, but I was taken aback by the book's rawness. Although Janie's a vulnerable, sympathetic character, she's got very sharp edges. Especially in the beginning, Wake is dark, erotic and bleak - so much so that I almost put it down. But, it had that premise. That fascinating, hypnotizing premise. Coupled with interesting characters, a heart-pounding storyline and McMann's compelling writing style - well, let's just say, I kept reading. As Janie learns more about herself, the tone of the novel brightens, until it climaxes with a somewhat predictable, almost cheesy, conclusion. It ends on a hopeful note, something that's weirdly incongruent with the first half of the book. I didn't love the ending, but the rest of the story had me whipping through pages fast enough to cause injury.

Considering all the profanity and sex in Wake, I shouldn't be looking forward to reading its sequel nearly as much as I am. But, there you go. Lisa McMann's my new guilty pleasure.

(Readalikes: I can't think of any. Can you?)

Grade: B

If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for language, violence and sexual images

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find


  1. This one sounds fascinating so have put it on my 'keep an eye out for' list.

  2. HeHe, no way I can think of anything like this book ... it was so strange ... but really did grow on me and I found that I couldn't put it down after a while!

    The ending was somewhat anti-climatic ... but apart from that, after you get used to the unusual way Wake is written, it's a very interesting story.

    I'm glad to have found you through the Book Blog Hop (",).

  3. I was fairly surprised at how much I liked this one too. I've read the entire series and was just as pleased with book #2, not-so-much with 3.

  4. I was actually looking for this one at the library today, but couldn't remember the author's last name and didn't take time to look it up! So, I didn't find it. Next time I'll try harder!

    Rated R? Really? Dang.

  5. You know I haven't seen this book be called a guilty pleasure yet. I've been wanting to read it but after your review I am a little more interested. Thanks for sharing!

    I found you thru the blog hop. Here's mine: Silly Little Game Called Life


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