As I Wake began with an interesting enough premise. A girl, Ava, wakes up in a strange place she has no memory of. She then realizes that she has no idea who she is either. We are supposed to follow her as she realizes that everything in this place she doesn’t remember is not as it seems while also being plagued by memories that give her glimpses into the truth. Unfortunately, the summary of the book is written better than the actual book itself.
As I Wake is divided into three different problems: One, Ava doesn’t know who she is and who she is supposed to be, which very quickly grates on the nerves; Two, Ava recognizes her classmates as people who are familiar to her but she doesn’t know why; and three, Ava continually goes into these trances, faints, or generally stares off into space as she remembers memories of a different world. This is what the majority of the book focuses on. Because Ava has amnesia, the writing style is very fractured and characters often cut off sentences and never finish them. I understand that this was most likely a stylistic move on the part of the author in order to show how jumbled Ava’s head is, but it only came off as poor writing. I had flashbacks of my horrible non-fiction class and my professor being convinced that everything I wrote was fragmented. I should send him a copy of this book. Writing the book in this way also made it very repetitive and boring. I probably could have skipped entire pages and would not have noticed the difference.
In addition to the poor writing and because this book was written in the first person following Ava, character development was severely lacking. I have no idea what these characters look like (except perhaps their hair color) or what their desires are. We are supposed to understand why she has an emotional attachment to a boy, but a feeling of “knowing him” does not qualify. It only comes across as insta-love. We are supposed to find a character evil because the smile doesn’t reach her eyes or she smiles when no one is looking. Really? That’s not enough to make me think the character is evil. Instead of taking the time to flesh out her characters, the author decided to put her characters in little stereotype boxes: power hungry girl, girl who is secretly in love with her best friend, mysterious boy, sad boy, doting mother. And Ava is the one who has to figure it all out.
But that’s the worst part about As I Wake. Just as Ava is figuring it out, we reach the end of the book. I kept looking down at the bar that listed how much time was left in the book and thinking, “17 minutes left in book? How is this all going to be wrapped up by then?” Answer: It wasn’t. Not really. All of the interesting things are crammed into the last 1/4 (and I’m being generous with my estimation) part of the book.
I liked the idea that love transcends time and across worlds, but you can’t just throw that in at the end. If As I Wake had been about that, I would have been far more interested and I would have enjoyed the book more. It seemed to have been thrown in as an afterthought to explain what had happened thus far in the book. All the ideas (that could have been great if they had been truly introduced early on in the book) were clumsily wrapped up at the end and left for a very unsatisfying ending.
1 star is too generous for this book. 0.5 stars.