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My name is Tegan Oglietti, and on the last day of my first lifetime, I was so, so happy.

Sixteen-year-old Tegan is just like every other girl living in 2027–she’s happiest when playing the guitar, she’s falling in love for the first time, and she’s joining her friends to protest the wrongs of the world: environmental collapse, social discrimination, and political injustice.

But on what should have been the best day of Tegan’s life, she dies–and wakes up a hundred years in the future, locked in a government facility with no idea what happened.

Tegan is the first government guinea pig to be cryonically frozen and successfully revived, which makes her an instant celebrity–even though all she wants to do is try to rebuild some semblance of a normal life. But the future isn’t all she hoped it would be, and when appalling secrets come to light, Tegan must make a choice: Does she keep her head down and survive, or fight for a better future?

Award-winning author Karen Healey has created a haunting, cautionary tale of an inspiring protagonist living in a not-so-distant future that could easily be our own.

 

Tegan Oglietti is sixteen and on her way to an environmental protest with her best friend Alex and boyfriend of one day, Dalmar. She is happy and ready to take on the world. Then a sniper attempts to assassinate the Prime Minister and hits Tegan instead.

The next thing Tegan knows, she is waking up to her “second life”. It is a hundred years later, and Tegan has been cryogenically frozen, a volunteer by stint of a form she signed allowing her body to be left to science. Everyone she knew and loved is dead.

The world has changed. Climate change has occurred: the seas have risen, temperatures have increased, meat eating is a rare thing, seen as earth hating.

From the beginning, Tegan fights. For information, for a computer, for freedom. She manages to get her way: moved to a house (mostly located belowground for coolness) with Marie, the head of the cryogenic revival project, and allowed to attend school. There she meets Bethari, Joph and Abdi, the boy who she mistakes at first for Dalmar.

Tegan is a believable and likeable protagonist. From the first page her voice is clear and true, and it is easy to always be on her side, even when she makes decisions that put her in danger. Healey writes her with a good balance of being scared and intrigued by the world she is reborn into. She sees the positive things – a world which is more ecologically aware, where gender, sexuality and race are more accepted in all of their variations. And she also sees the negatives immediately – Australia’s no immigration policy, and the attitude towards people from the third world.

Each of the other teenage characters is written as well as Tegan. All of them are believable and all have their own voices and personality – this isn’t a book where you find yourself having to figure out which character is which (as often happens in a lot of YA, I’ve found).

The pacing of the book is great, too, aided by a technique where Healey intersperses Tegan telling her story in the present (and inserting little nuggets of information to keep the reader interested) and in the past. Tegan is a fan of the Beatles, a fact that is used well to ground the reader and make Tegan more relatable in world foreign to the reader (but one that is all too easily imagined as a future of this world).

There is definitely a lot more to be explored in this future world, and in the conspiracies that Tegan and her friends have only begun to uncover.

Absolutely worth the read. I’ll be looking forward to the next book.

One thought on “AWW2013: When We Wake by Karen Healey

  1. Pingback: March 2013 Roundup: YA Speculative Fiction | Australian Women Writers Challenge

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