When We Wake
It is 2027, and Australian Tegan Oglietti is finally in love on this last day of her first life. Sixteen-year-old Tegan is filled with joy as she bounds out the door, on her way to meet "perfect, perfect Dalmar," who has been Tegan's brother's best friend for forever and is now Tegan's boyfriend. Their relationship is precisely one day old as Tegan meets up with Dalmar and her friend Alex. The three are on their way to a protest rally about climate change that Australia's prime minister will attend. To be honest, Tegan doesn't care all that much about climate change, but she does care about Dalmar, who is passionate about changing the world their generation will inherit.
"WHEN WE WAKE offers everything a compelling page-turner needs: an amazing concept, a sympathetic hero in Tegan and a thrilling quest."
On the train, Tegan silently asks the Virgin Mary to protect them and bring them good luck. Then she snuggles up against Dalmar, teasing him with made-up lyrics to the tune of the song "Help" from her favorite band, the historic Beatles. The train jerks to a stop and, as the three bound up the station steps, all Tegan is thinking about is when and where she can next kiss Dalmar. Tegan's memory stops there because at that moment, a sniper aiming for the Prime Minister hits Tegan instead. Tegan dies.
She rises through levels of consciousness, aware that there is a light shining in her eyes and people talking nearby. Finally, she swims up to awareness, struggling to sit up and working hard to breathe. A kind doctor soothes her, asking Tegan if she knows her name and the date of her birth. Tegan is relieved to find that she remembers these basic facts, but when she hazards a guess as to the date and asks about her friends, Dr. Carmen informs her that she's been the victim in a fatal accident...one that occurred 100 years before. Because Tegan had signed up to donate her body to science, she had undergone cryonic treatment, resulting in a kind of frozen coma, lasting a full century. It is now 2128 and is an entirely different world than the one Tegan knew.
Tegan doesn't believe this ridiculous story at first, but she discovers, when she tries to escape, that it's the truth. She is soon surrounded by a mob of journalists shouting, "It's her! The Living Dead Girl!" Tegan spends the next weeks grieving for her friends and family. She befriends Dr. Carmen, who asks Tegan to call her Marie, while distrusting Colonel Dawson, the military doctor overseeing the project. She's horrified to discover she can't simply leave the hospital, although she manages to maneuver Colonel Dawson into agreeing to let her live with Marie instead of in his facility. Although school is different from the way it was 100 years before, she enrolls. There, she finds friends and meets the intriguing outsider named Abdi. Little does she know how much she will need this circle as she uncovers horrifying secrets. Can Tegan manage to actually change this strange new world, making it a better place?
WHEN WE WAKE offers everything a compelling page-turner needs: an amazing concept, a sympathetic hero in Tegan and a thrilling quest. Author Karen Healey adds layers to the plot, which add thought-provoking questions about humankind's treatment of the planet, discrimination, immigration policies and other social issues. Yet she manages to keep these elements subtle enough to be nonintrusive to the plot. This is an irresistible stay-up-all-night-until-I-finish-it read --- and it is not to be missed.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on March 8, 2013