Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wake Up to a Darn Good Book

Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math—and blind. Still, she can surf the net with the best of them, following its complex paths clearly in her mind. But Caitlin’s brain long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her navigate online. So when she receives an implant to restore her sight, instead of seeing reality, the landscape of the World Wide Web explodes into her consciousness, spreading out all around her in a riot of colors and shapes. While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something—some other —lurking in the background. And it’s getting more and more intelligent with each passing day…

It’s been a long time since I read a book that pulled me in so absolutely. From the cover to the story line to the character to the pacing Wake truly is a work of art.

Robert Sawyer took the phrase “all good things comes to those who wait” to heart when setting out the pacing for his story. Caitlin doesn’t immediately get her sight back as soon as she gets the implant, and Webmind doesn’t pop into existence as a fully formed sentient genius. They both have to go through a lot of trial and error to progress to the next step in their journeys, and sometimes it’s only by blind luck that they make it to the next step at all. If it weren’t for these realistic bouts of trial and error the two of them would never have discovered each other, and their struggles go to show that sometimes the journey is more important than the destination although the destination was pretty darn important too.

I also found the secondary characters captivating. They weren’t stock characters. Each one was unique and real. There was the research scientist who loves Abba and who traveled half way around the world, leaving his family behind, to help Caitlin. I especially loved the way Sawyer developed the characters over time. He started by introducing us to them without visual descriptions, and then as Caitlin ability to perceive the world changes so does her perception of the people in her life.

My favorite parts were Caitlin’s interactions with her dad. She spent the first part of the book wondering why he was so distant and trying to connect with, and it wasn’t until much later that it was finally reveled why it was so difficult for them to connect. I don’t want to spoil the surprise so I’m not going to say what the difficulty was, but it was a dynamic that really hit close to home for me. Major plot arc aside I’d recommend Wake based solely on that dynamic.


No comments:

Post a Comment