As I Wake

As I WakeBy Elizabeth Scott

Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: September 15, 2011
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Dystopian
Source: Purchased

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.

Goodreads Summary

Ava awakens in a bed – at least she thinks it’s a bed – in a strange place she doesn’t remember. She doesn’t know who she is, where she is and it’s only as she starts to wander around, does she even remember the names of the things around her. There’s nothing medically wrong wither her according to the doctors who run a battery of tests, but she still doesn’t know the woman who says she’s her mother and this life that’s supposed to be hers feels wrong. She keeps having flashbacks to a very different place and sometimes when she looks at certain people, she sees them in layers, like there’s another person underneath who’s talking to her.

Those feelings of belonging someplace else increase as her flashbacks come faster and she’s reunited with several people that she thinks she’s known from someplace else. A boy keeps showing up both in the present and in the images that keep flowing in her head. The other place she keeps remembering is dark and oppressive and there’s something she knows she needs to remember that’s dangerous – if she was supposed to be somewhere else, someone had to betray her to send her where she is now.

I wanted to like this and I tried to like it over and over while I was reading it. This story just wouldn’t let me – it was confusing, unfocused and unfortunately it overwhelmed all of the characters.

The beginning of the book was promising. I liked the small flashbacks, the little bits of scenes that started to tell the story of where Ava might have come from. It was beginning to make some sense, this alternate, militant world where there was an organized spy network. The longer the flashbacks got though, the less they made sense. The structure of this alternate world crumbled and I couldn’t picture it anymore because Scott didn’t give me anything to focus on. Each time she revisited this alternate place, something changed and she lost me again. The alternate Ava acted differently and it didn’t make sense for the place.

Present Ava was barely better. She seemed robotic, wandering from scene to scene just informing everyone that she couldn’t remember or letting people remind everyone else that she couldn’t remember anything. She didn’t participate in anything – scenes just passed by, information flowing through. There were only a couple of times when she showed emotion and they were both very dramatic scenes involving types of “deaths” or letting go. They were well-written scenes that grabbed me and even had me tearing up – but they didn’t fit anywhere with this character or even in this book. They told me the author has talent but not that this is the right story for them.

My Summary: This was an ambitious idea for a story that I think needed either a lot more room than it was given (269 pages) or some serious editing to make room for character development. The alternate place that Ava was from was too nebulous for me when it really could have been the powerhouse of the book, a sinister force hanging over the story. Ava herself was such a non-entity that this didn’t really feel like a story about her, just a telling about two places and the people who lived in them.

My Rating: D

Barbara

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