Literally hundreds of people haven’t asked me if I’m going to read the last two Hugo nominees, especially as the Awards have already been announced. Well, calm down. I actually only have one Hugo nominee left to read. I finished Wake months ago.
And then time kind of got away from me.
Now this review has been hanging over my head for a long time and I’m had trouble putting it together. It actually took me only a few days to read Wake, the first party of the WWW trilogy by Robert J. Sawyer. While I know that a few days might not seem like a tremendously quick read for some of your bibliophiles, but I have a pretty full schedule. I have a full time job, the niches I’ve crafted out to do some writing and blogging, and a wife who can pointedly roll over if I leave my reading light on too long.
What I’m trying to say is that Wake is a fabulously easy book to read.
I’ve referred to Sawyer before as the master ethicist of science fiction and he doesn’t take a different approach in Wake. His stories always challenge the characters with moral questions related to science and the expansion of knowledge and technology. In this case, he’s forcing the question of what it means to be human, or at least sentient. It’s extremely compelling without being preachy and the central character’s story keeps you turning the pages.
However, the central character also presents problems for me. Sawyer has clearly tried to do his homework to capture the voice of a blind teenage girl, but something about her doesn’t quite ring true for me. While I am not any closer to being a teenage girl than Sawyer is, it frequently comes across as a person from the older generation who wants to seem like he gets what it’s like for the kids these days.
Character is often a problem for me with Sawyer’s work. The stories are always interesting. They make you think and they explore things from a new and challenging angle. But they also somehow lack nuance. His characters have personality, motivation and are frequently forced to make tough decisions, but they seem like characterizations at times.
But picking at the depth of his characters really misses the point of what Sawyer does. I really enjoyed Wake. And this may be all the review you need: when I finished Wake, I immediately bought the second in the trilogy.
I read Wake a while ago, and while I remember really enjoying the concept behind the story, I also had some issues with his characterization and the seeming lack of world building/exposition. Seems like he maybe wrote this with a YA audience in mind? it doesn’t seem as heavy as Mindscan, or the Hominids/Humans series.
It definitely feels like a better fit in the YA category. Even so, if your target audience is teenagers, I feel like this almost talks down to them.