Awake. Natasha Preston. 2015. 336 pages. Sourcebooks Fire. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.]
This was a tough book to read, but it was just as tough to put it down. Awake follows Scarlet, a teenager who has led a mostly normal life, except for the fact that she can’t remember anything before she was 4 years old. With the introduction of an attractive, attentive new boy in school, Scarlet’s world changes quickly and she starts questioning her past and the people in her life.
The story is filled with the angst you’d expect from teens – juggling friendships and jealousy, trying to make “mature” choices based on inexperience and new love. But the underlying question of Scarlet’s past and how it may force its way into her present is inescapable. She’s constantly questioning the motives of those around her and ask she begins to question her family more directly, she starts to unravel some of her truth.
I was impressed at how adept Preston was at writing subtly about Scarlet’s development. Her style of highlighting her personal growth and the maturity of her relationship with Noah is natural and honest. It’s not always pretty, but neither is life. It reminded me of how I felt managing the same confusion of life as a teen – who do you trust, what’s really happening around you, and how how do you move forward.
Preston took a real chance writing a thriller of this type for a younger audience. The idea of cults is usually taboo, and her writing is graphic and captivating. I’ve read several YA books dealing with cults, and I found this to be the most mature — albeit more violent in intent. It’s definitely worth a read, though I would recommend it for older YA readers.