James M. McCracken
Reviewed by William J. Cook
Rated: 5 Stars
"The Earth Will Heal Itself...But Will We?"
In "Awake," James McCracken presents us with a fascinating premise: the answer to the pollution of the earth is to put humanity into suspended animation for twenty years. Given two decades without human intervention or interference, earth's natural ecosystems would cleanse themselves. A newly awakened humanity would have its first chance to start over with cleaner technologies and renewed hope.
But Paradise is lost. Instead of sleeping in the SAC's--the Suspended Animation Centers--for twenty years, people have slept for fifty-three years. And only a few have awakened. The rest remain in their glass pods in a precarious limbo, dependent on generators that are beginning to fail.
Tim is awake, but his mother Della remains entombed in the Hillsboro SAC. His father Philip has awakened, but suffers from severe dementia and has wandered off.
The mystery deepens when Tim discovers the bodies of the two medical supervisors who were monitoring his SAC--both dead from gunshot wounds. Worse still, all communication has been lost with the other SAC's across the country.
McCracken gives us an engrossing tale told from the perspective of two families caught up in it. There are hints of larger conspiracies, deadlier gambits, but we can only see through the families' eyes, cut off from the rest of the world, making the story even more mysterious and captivating.
I found myself thinking about this novel for a long time afterward. At first I was stymied by asking myself the wrong questions: Could so much technology survive for fifty-three years without maintenance? (Where would our computers and cell phones be without updates?) Could a single country, let alone the world, agree to undertake such an ambitious endeavor?
My doubts were allayed when I realized I had missed the point. "Awake" is an allegory poignantly describing how we "sleep" through the relationships that are most precious to us, often until it's too late. Tim is awake at last, but cannot be heard by his mother, asleep in her glass coffin. His father is awake, but the sleep of dementia has rendered in-depth communication with him impossible. As Tim laments, "There is so much I wanted to say, so much I wanted to hear." For those of us with parents in the twilight of their years or family members stricken with terminal illness, it's a message that rings all too true.
James M. McCracken
Reviewed by Andretta Schellinger
Rated: 5 Stars
With the world dying, governments around the world concoct a plan to not only save mankind but also the world. Their plan is to put everyone into suspended animation for 20 years to essentially reboot Earth.
Whenever the government is involved in something, there is always the chance it could go sideways. For Tim, a relatively sheltered young man, sideways it went. With the help of his neighbors and strays they pick up on the way, Tim must decide if he is going to stay the sheltered man of his past, or if he will become the man that his father never thought he could be.
I really enjoyed this story. The story was unique in that there wasn't a single event that caused the world to fail, but people being people, and I think that resonates with me. Yes while one person can make a small difference, without worldwide intervention, this story could be our reality in the near future. Awake is a look at the human condition through the eyes of a young Oregonian who never really saw the world for what it was. That can be said for many young individuals, who are too wrapped up in their own worlds to understand what is happening around them.
I would suggest reading this book if you like the dystopian and post-apocalyptic genres. With it being based in Oregon, the author made sure to be really accurate with locations and descriptions, which I appreciate.