Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Series: Stand Alone
Pre-Order Online (3/21/11): Amazon.com | BookDepository.com
Stalk the Author: Blog
Digital galley from netgalley.
PJVs QUICKIE POV:
Jesse Karp’s debut, dark dystopian, was a very compelling read it had me completely engrossed but scratching my head at some of the threads. I couldn’t put the book down, even though it was rather slow to start. My bafflement came in the plot and how everything came together. The author used interesting techniques that were original but I don’t know if they worked...well they didn’t work for me. The whole basis of the novel left me kind of offended, because if I deduced correctly -- it might be me that is the reason for the ending of the world. Or at least corporate marketing minions.
Like most dystopians, Karp’s THOSE THAT WAKE is set in the near future. The US has recently been struck by the worst terrorist attack in it’s history that they call the Big Black. In New York city the people’s spirits have been crushed. Strange things have also begun to occur in the city to a select few. A teen girls parents completely forget her, a young man’s brother disappears, a teacher spots a door that leads to a vast hallway that wasn’t there earlier...these select few, that refuse to give in will soon discover that there is something much worse than terrorist preying on the human race.
Let’s see in how many ways we can destroy the world? I shouldn’t complain...haven’t I complained in the past that I’m tired of global warming dystopians? Well out of the debris of global warming let’s pull up another big baddie, Corporate America. Because isn’t that what Corporate America is about? Promoting hopelessness so they can sell a product? (that is sarcasm) This book actually targeted a specific corporation...well it could probably be narrowed down to a few, Google, maybe Microsoft - well any big company of that nature. What better way for a company to increase their market value...hopelessness? Convert the public consciousness to an almost race ending depression --- therefor selling more products. I didn’t get that. Because last time I checked a depressed society doesn’t spend money - because they are too busy hiding in their homes or committing suicide. It might inflate sales of pharmaceuticals (which according to some are the most evil of all corporations) but THOSE THAT WAKE really pointed it’s finger at big tech companies. I just didn’t understand the rational behind it, which in turn left an unbelievable taste in my mouth. Thus plummeting this rating.
What I did find interesting was the whole memes thread that the author brought up. I thought it was a wonderfully unique idea, but if something like this were possible I think in the past we would be overrun by manifestations constantly. Human history is littered with atrocity after atrocity. Slavery, mass murder, genocide, war. To think that something like this would be spawned from corporate greed...well that is giving a lot of credit to corporate greed and the power of marketing. I wish it was that easy. I would have a much bigger pay check. Considering most direct marketing campaigns reach only about 1% of the target audience, for a meme to spread in this fashion from deliberate tampering is rather unbelievable. For the ability to reach a sweeping amount of the population I would think brain washing drugs would have to be implemented...and even that has a limited amount of effectiveness.
To sum it up, it was just unbelievable. From the basic premise behind the entire novel, to the little idiosyncrasies, like the hiking through the unending valley. They spent almost two days and a night in a valley that was never ending. All day they spent climbing down a mountain and then up a mountain and they had nothing to drink -- and with an overweight teacher in loafers. It was just unbelievable. Then poor Mal kept getting the crap beat out of him in every scene. Fighting off five guys in one scene and then in a toe-to-toe fight not 12 hours later - and he never went down. No matter how many ribs broke. If you’ve ever sparred or fought, or even been in a street fight a normal human being just couldn’t take the attack that Mal was put under. Yes, he was a fighter, but, I just couldn’t see anyone surviving what he went through, unless he was superhuman.
So, in summary, interesting premise, but unbelievable. The author is a wonderful writer and I will read more of their writing, but I wasn’t quite impressed with this one. It was good, just not a show-stopper. I thought the characters were very well done, though. I really like Mal and his transition from the beginning to the end. The imagery in the novel was also well played and had my imagination working over-time.
This is a mature novel that can be consumed by both teens and adult readers. The time-line is not too far in the future to give it a slight science fiction flavor and there is nothing superhuman about it. This is more like a psychological thriller than a dystopian.