Saturday, December 10, 2011

Review: When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

When She WokeWhen She Woke by Hillary Jordan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When She Woke is a fantastic dystopic novel that examines fairly intense topics such as faith, religion, individualism, choice, and punishment. Hillary Jordan tackles a number of fairly controversial topics - most notably abortion - in this novel. I love that she takes them on straightforwardly and honestly. I thought the author's retelling of The Scarlet Letter was clever but I liked how Jordan modernized the overall story and took the story down a new path with When She Woke.

The concept of chroming (coloring people to categorize them as various 'offenses' such as murder, pedophilia, etc) was really interesting and, frankly, ingenious. I almost wish that she'd explored that aspect even more deeply because I wanted to know more about the details and how the government came to a place of coloring people as punishment. It's a very interesting concept.

What I loved most about this novel was the journey of the main character, Hannah. The novel is essentially about female empowerment. The author did a wonderful job creating complex, believable, intensely human characters overall. However, Hannah's personal development through the course of the novel was particularly well done.

All of the issues in this novel were well written and explored in a well rounded way. I thought her journey was amazing and gave me a lot to think about. The entire novel was a thought provoking journey and I really enjoyed it. I didn't want to put the book down! Despite the heavy material and the thought provoking nature of the book, I would say it is an engaging and exciting book!

There is a great deal of controversial and socially relevant subject matter written with an unabashedly feminist perspective which may be off-putting for some individuals. If that is something that rubs you the wrong way, this book will not be for you. I found the novel to be an inspiring story about the struggle from oppression to empowerment, similar to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaids Tale. I suspect that if you enjoyed that novel, you will like this one!

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  1. This book was amazing! Kept calling to me until I finally picked it up, and then I couldn't put it down! The story really grabbed me, and I wound up staying up much too late in order to finish it. The whole idea of literally dying people different colors is both unbelievably cruel, yet strangely fascinating. While I've seen several reviews referencing The Scarlet Letter, this story actually reminded me of The Handmaid's Tale, where women had their rights stripped away and the country was taken over by self-righteous male hypocrites.

  2. I think you might be right - I can completely see it reminding you of The Handmaid's Tale - yet another amazing book!