Book Review: While We Run

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Great! Solid book with little or minimal issues)

While We Run by Karen Healey is the follow up to the entertaining 2013’s When We Wake (read my review here). This sequel did not disappoint and readers who enjoy science fiction and dystopia should be flocking to this series.

The Skinny

When we last left Abdi and Tegan, they were on the run from the Australian government. After learning the true goal behind the cryonics program, they tried to spread the truth to the public without success only to be found and captured. Now prisoners, they are forced to be spokespeople for the cryonics program encouraging the public to support and donate to the cause. In order to comply, they are put under physical and emotional torture. Feeling helpless and beaten down, Abdi is forced to watch Tegan tortured if he does not comply with his evil handler, Diane’s, every whim. Will they rise above and escape? Can they save the public?

My Thoughts: No Sugar Coating in this Book!

I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of this book and it did not disappoint. Let me start off the positives with the beginning of the book. I was immediately sucked back into the story. Considering I read the first book last year, that is quite an accomplishment. I was utterly captivated by Adbi and Tegan’s imprisonment. The torture and mind games played by their captors resulted in complex thoughts and emotions from Abdi, the narrator of this story. There is no sugar coating his feelings toward the world, Tegan, and his primary torturer Diane. Healey doesn’t gloss over those feelings, instead she delves deeper by making Abdi’s inner conflict front and center. While being tortured, Abdi is made to believe that Tegan has conformed resulting in resentment and hatred toward someone he thought he loved. Abdi is confused and emotionally exhausted bringing him to the brink. He is trying to sort out his feelings for Tegan, but the abuse he endured leaves a permanent scar. As the book goes on you learn more about the torture Abdi in particular experienced and it answers a lot of questions about his sanity.

Another element I loved about this story is the evil Diane. She is a GREAT villain who you want to see killed in the most horrible way imaginable. That is truly how you know you have created a great villain (Commodious in Gladiator anyone? How about Joffrey in Game of Thrones?). She is sick, twisted, and without feeling who will stop at nothing to inflict pain. Her character blows away any traces of sugar and fluff in the story which I absolutely love.

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Joffrey would approve

This little gem below is when Abdi didn’t comply with Diane’s wishes. To get back at Abdi she forces him to watch Tegan be tortured.

“You know how this works, Abdi.” Diane sighed. “I’d hoped you’d learn a little faster. I really don’t enjoy having to do this.”

That was a lie. Diane loved her job. It was in the mocking slant of her smile as she held the screen in front of my eyes. Sometimes I wondered what had been done to her to make her like this. Surely she hadn’t been born evil.

“You’ll watch,” she said, her voice quiet and clear. “You’ll watch and you’ll remember. (pg. 31)

While I enjoyed Abdi’s refreshing and unique narration, it made me realize how much I liked and missed Tegan’s voice. During the story, I found myself pondering her thoughts and missed her sassy and strong personality. What I loved so much about the first book, is missing in the sequel; however, I wouldn’t change it. The story needed to be told by Abdi, but I would have loved a chapter told from Tegan’s perspective.

The ending is somewhat open, but for the most part tied up. I liked the ending, but would definitely welcome a third book. Out of the two books, I like the first one a little bit better because of the focus on Tegan. Check out this series!

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Book Review: When We Wake

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (Great! Solid book with little or minimal issues)

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Imagine that your life is relatively perfect (let’s be realistic there is no perfect). You have a great boyfriend, loyal friends, loving family, and discovered passion for a cause to dedicate your future. Too good to be true you think, and you would be right. When We Wake by Karen Healey is a thrilling sci-fi story about what happens when you are forced to start over and pick up the pieces after you thought life was figured out. What compelled me to choose this book initially was the great cover. The beautiful frozen face, like a work of art, made me want to discover the story behind the cover.

The Skinny

In 2027, sixteen year old Tegan has everything to live for. On what is supposed to be the best day of her young life, she is shot at an environmental rally/protest. With all her memories fresh in her mind from her life up to that point, Tegan awakes 100 years later to vastly different world where everything has changed. The world is plagued with extreme pollution, as well as the majority of the world being vegetarians. There are extremist groups and factions trying to fight political corruption and countries are forced to adopt no immigration policies to protect the dwindling valuable resources. This was the world Tegan was fighting to prevent and now she is forced to live and adapt to the conditions. When Tegan wakes she finds herself in a government facility and the only person to be successfully revived from cryogenic sleep. Tegan is then forced to pick up where she left off and get on with her new life. She attends school and meets friends that share her love of music and the environment.

My Thoughts: Unique and Refreshing

Let me start by saying that Science Fiction is not my favorite genre. With that said, I really did enjoy this story because it is unlike anything I have read before.  The main character Tegan is extremely likable and authentic. I feel her loss and the finality of not only losing her loved ones, but her whole world as well. The evolution of Tegan’s character from the beginning to end is satisfying and compelling. This story is unique because it isn’t focused around a boy-girl love story.  Love for the environment, friends, and family are at the forefront in this story, as well as the love for one’s self. Tegan must get on with her new life and learn to love the new person she evolves into as the story goes on. With that said, I do like how the main love story between Tegan and Abdi slowly builds and is very sweet and believable. I wasn’t distracted by cheesy romantic cliches and really enjoyed how the author handled their relationship.

The only issue I have with this book is that I feel like I am being lectured about the environment. It is preachy in some parts of the book explaining how terrible humans are for letting the Earth become so polluted.  However, this is a good message to impart on readers and it does fit into the story without being too annoying.

I was pleasantly surprised after reading this book and highly recommend this to readers who like science fiction, dystopian future worlds, and strong female characters. The book ended with a opening for more books and I am happy to find out there will be a second book release in May 2014 called While We Run!

Check with your local library for this page turner!