Maddie lives in a world where everything is done on the computer. Whether it’s to go to school or on a date, people don’t venture out of their home. There’s really no need. For the most part, Maddie’s okay with the solitary, digital life—until she meets Justin. Justin likes being with people. He enjoys the physical closeness of face-to-face interactions. People aren’t meant to be alone, he tells her.
Suddenly, Maddie feels something awakening inside her—a feeling that maybe there is a different, better way to live. But with society and her parents telling her otherwise, Maddie is going to have to learn to stand up for herself if she wants to change the path her life is taking.
In this not-so-brave new world, two young people struggle to carve out their own space.
Okay, so, Awaken describes: A technological take-over? Check. People willingly confining themselves to their homes to 'live' via computers? Included. Forced digitalized education upon the impressionable minds of the youth? You betcha. Forgetting the high speed car chases and other thrilling law-breaking activities of the 'unplugged' protesters? Of course not.
Katie Kacvinsky, the author of this utterly fantastic novel, has kindly taken the time to answer some of my burning questions. Thank you, Katie, for helping me construct the following interview. . .
The story concept and themes behind AWAKEN are excellent and refreshing! Like nothing I’ve ever read before. AWAKEN exhibits life dependent on technology. I’m curious, Katie. Do you think this is where our world is headed in a few decades - automated, digitalized, and basically lifeless?
More than anything, I tried to create a story that’s entertaining but that also makes you think. In 2011, we are all living in a digital age. I definitely get freaked out with how fast people are adopting so many digital devices. Think about how many hours we spend, everyday, staring into a screen, whether it’s our phone, computer, or television. I don’t think we’ll ever completely live in a digital world, but we are headed that way if we don’t take a step back and consider some of our own habits and values.
(And after reading this book, and putting things into perspective, I agree. I'm a little freaked meself.)
Because this novel is set in the future, and most of the inventions described in your novel don’t exist – at least, not yet - how difficult had the world-building been? What kind of background knowledge did you need to have before and during the writing process?
A lot of my futuristic world came from my imagination, but some of the inventions were inspired by my nonfiction reading. I’m a self declared nerd and love reading science magazines like Wired and Scientific American and nonfiction books like Hot, Flat and Crowded. Basically, I closed my eyes and put myself in Maddie’s shoes and tried to imagine her world. I invented things I thought were cool, like the cars that can drive underwater and the Sand Rocket. I also invented things that freak me out, like the Mind Reader and the synthetic trees.
Madeline, the main protagonist, has been forced to conform, though her rebellious streak hasn’t been completely stamped out. I fell for her hard! Do you - or a past self - resemble Maddie in any particular way? What about Justin? (Luurve that guy!) Any resemblance there?
I would say I relate to Maddie on a few levels. I was a rebel in high school. I hated boundaries and rules and I usually tested or broke them. I was also an outcast in high school. I never belonged to one click of friends; I kind of floated between groups, so in many ways I can relate to Maddie and Justin. As for Justin, I get frustrated with how plugged in our society is becoming, so in many ways I relate to him. Although computers have so many benefits, they can never, ever replace the intimacy that experiencing something first hand creates. Like Justin, I prefer to spend time in the genuine, authentic, “real world” as much as I can.
If you had between one and five words to describe Maddie and Justin’s relationship, which ones would you select?
Intense, passionate, and lots of sexual tension (sorry, used more than five words there)
Is there a favorite character you loved writing for?
I loved writing Justin. He’s such a strong, complex person. Those are the kinds of people I’m drawn to, so it was challenging to write him.
Could you share one best-loved line or scene in the book?
I loved contrasting the natural world with the digital world, but my favorite scene is when Maddie and Justin kiss for the first time. I took a lot of time building up to it, to make it a very sensual moment. I hope it wins and award for the Best Kiss of 2011.
(*fans self* It's got my vote! I was thrilled with their romance and eventual progression to the kissing stage!)
Can readers expect to see a series emerge from this first book? (PLEASE SAY YES.) What more can we anticipate coming from you, besides top-secret AWAKEN-related stuff? Any upcoming projects currently underway? If so, spill please.
Yes, this is a series! I apologize for any grievances and frustration that your not-knowing might have caused. I never planned on ending it with one book—Maddie and Justin still have a story to tell and it only gets better…as for my next book, I have another young adult novel coming out next May. It’s called First Comes Love and I am ridiculously excited about this book. It’s a teenage angst-coming-of-age-love-story that flips narratives between the guy (Gray) and girl (Dylan). It’s very different from Awaken, but if you like my writing, you’ll love it. It’s definitely a romance as well.
Then, it's a good thing I *heart* your writing! I'm so happy and excited! Thanks for clearing that up for me, as well as any other fans or readers, Katie. And I'll definitely be on the lookout for FIRST COMES LOVE!
Thanks so much for stopping by, Katie! You are truly exceptional. I hope to have you back on the blog soon!