Friday, July 19, 2013

Review: As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott

As I Wake
Description: Ava is welcomed home from the hospital by a doting mother, lively friends, and a crush finally beginning to show interest. There's only one problem: Ava can't remember any of them - and can't shake the eerie feeling that she's not who they say she is.

Ava struggles to break through her amnesiac haze as she goes through the motions of high-school life, but the memories that surface take place in a very different world, where Ava and familiar-faced friends are under constant scrutiny and no one can be trusted. Ava doesn't know what to make of these visions, or of the boy who is at the center of them all, until he reappears in her life and offers answers . . . but only in exchange for her trust.

Stats: Young Adult Dystopia, 269 pages, First Published by Dutton Juvenile, September 2011.

My Rating: 3 Stars

I am surprised I enjoyed this.

Going into As I Wake, I had very low expectations. The overall ratings on Goodreads are little all over the place, but the cover is absolutely beautiful. As with most things in a pretty packages that convinced me to at least give it a go.

Our story follows Ava, a girl within a girl. After losing her memories Ava starts having visions of another life. With her mind fighting for answers, As I Wake is about her completely questioning everything and everyone she knows. If she can't remember the Ava she is supposed to be, then why is she remembering an Ava from another world? And what could possibly explain why she doesn't belong in the life she's living?

The answer to those questions is kind of trippy. Out of everything in this story the plot, although understandably confusing at points, was fantastic. However, this is where my main issue also emerges. The writing that accompanied this plot wasn't always up to par.

To start with, as many other reviews will state, the writing style here is not for everyone. It is first person based and for the initial part of the book is written very rigidly. My first thought was that it read like a first person video game, however eventually, I either adjusted to the style or it became more fluid. Either way, after that shift I actually found it enjoyable for it's unique style.

Unfortunately, the writing had other issues for me to find fault in. Its biggest flaw is that it doesn't give you a lot to work with. My imagination was responsible for filling in a lot of the smaller details that were left blank. And although that's interesting from a mystery stand point, it's makes the experience less immersive and a little tedious. This is especially prominent when it comes to setting.

Giving me two or three details doesn't flesh out an environment!

From what I've read I understand that the characters are at a bar, sitting in a dark corner. I don't know what the bar looks like, what their table looks like, what the other people in the bar are doing, what the characters look like in this setting. It's like a low budget movie where they couldn't afford a full set or extras so they can just focus on a single dark table.

Although the plot relies on keeping the reader in the dark, I don't think the storytelling would have suffered had it taken more time to flesh out these environments, the world building, and initial character introductions. I think adding a bit more detail would have made the story easier to follow and more fulfilling to read. Overall, the writing needed to show a little less restraint.

Something I did enjoy about the book is that it doesn't follow any sort of formula that I'm familiar with. The love story isn't the one I've read time and time again. Actually, this isn't even really about romance, it's more about the mystery. You would think, pessimistic YA reader, that the mystery of Ava's life is just a backdrop for something else, (like say lusting after a boy or something else to do with the sexy time) but this has some serious focus. The way that everything is weaved together the romance elements actually further the story in a meaningful way! Let me repeat that, IN A MEANINGFUL WAY. Let's all join hands and happy dance!

So, you've heard the negative and the positive. Let me tell ya about the so-so.

Ava. She kind of went back and forth for me. Sometimes, I was completely into her, her narrative was great, and she acts realistically for the personality she has and situation she's in. The depth of character is great! Then the coin flips and all of a sudden she losing some of her dimension. But then things flip back and she's having meaningful conversations, and is putting her observations to good use, and the plot is advancing!!

There is so much about this book that I like, but then there is a lot that I'm not to keen on. It is definitely a very strange book, but strange in a good way. I got really into the story being told. Although I didn't always love the writing I was able to read through this rather effortlessly.

As I Wake has its flaws, so I wouldn't recommend you go out of your way to read it. However, if the concept interests you I think the story is worth the bumpy ride.

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