Wednesday, March 19, 2014

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (2011)

This book was a random library find; the dark red cover pulled me to take it off the shelf.
I had never heard of the author, nor of her first novel, Mudbound, which my library unfortunately doesn't have.

I've always been intrigued by stories that take place in a changed future world and When She Woke takes place in the near future in Texas mainly, where hinted-at wars and outbreaks of disease have changed society in many ways.  In many parts of the story I wished the author would have delved more into the details of these catalysts for change.   However, she stuck firmly to the story of the main character, Hannah, and the change that most affected her, the fact that abortion was illegal, and punishable by "chroming", a process whereby a convicted criminal is injected with a virus that causes their skin to turn a color that marks them to the outside world as a criminal.  In Hannah's case, she becomes red, and is instantly recognizable to everyone as a murderer.  The story details the illicit affair with her pastor that leads to her "crime", her incarceration and punishment, and her attempt to escape her plight.

The novel is an enjoyable quick read, and well paced, but many of the characters felt like they came right out of a script for a futuristic action-packed blockbuster; too many of them had too much of a stereotypical profile.  Plus the visual gimmick of bright red, blue and yellow humans seems to lend itself perfectly to a film interpretation, and a little bit more awkwardly to the printed page.


Laurie C said...

I wasn't too impressed with the character development in Mudbound when I read it. It was several years ago, now, and I don't remember a single other thing about it, except that I was surprised that it seemed to be winning awards!

Amy said...

Thanks for your comment, Laurie - hearing that makes me not mind too much that my library doesn't have a copy of it.