When She Woke
Author: Hillary Jordan
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian
Published: October 4th 2011 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
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Bellwether Prize winner Hillary Jordan s provocative new novel, "When She Woke," tells the story of a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of a not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated but chromed their skin color is genetically altered to match the class of their crimes and then released back into the population to survive as best they can. Hannah is a Red; her crime is murder. In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a path of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith.
I wasn’t expecting to really like this book. At first, I thought it will be too serious, too dark or too deep for me. Yes, it was serious, dark and deep but WHEN SHE WOKE has a lot more to offer.
The dystopian society in which the story takes place is highly creative and unique. The world-building is concrete; it’s a very different era but not exaggerated to the point of being unrealistic. The story touches several sensitive issues like abortion, homosexuality, infidelity, racial and gender discrimination, and the likes but it doesn’t glorify them. This book merely shows the reality - however ugly it may be - in whatever time and society we live in.
I like Hannah’s conviction and her transformation. Her change from being an obedient daughter to a strong and independent woman was remarkable. Her being Chromed was like a blessing in disguise because it paved the path for her self-realization. She not only found her true self but also some friends along the way. Her faith was challenged but in the end, it came out stronger than before.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading WHEN SHE WOKE. It’s an eye-opener in many ways. It’s bold and daring but also real and honest. The words were beautifully and intricately woven together to create a wonderful masterpiece that is this story. The combination of the realistic but colorful characters and the interesting plot was enough to hook me into this book. A one of a kind.
A startling tale of love, faith, redemption and finding one’s self, WHEN SHE WOKE is definitely a great read. Highly recommended.
“How else do you explain the miracle of your beating heart, the compassion of strangers, the existence of Mozart and Rilke and Michelangelo? How do you account for redwoods and hummingbirds, for orchids and nebulas? How can such beauty possibly exist without God? And how can we see it and know it’s beautiful and moved by it, without God?”
“You don’t have to stop thinking and asking questions to believe in God, child. If He’d wanted a flock of eight billion sheep, He wouldn’t have given us opposable thumbs, much less free will.”