Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Date of Publication: July 14th, 2016
Dates Read: September 5th – October 18th, 2016
Victoria Dinham doesn’t have much left to look forward to. Since her father died in a car accident, she lives only to fulfill her dream of being accepted into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. But soon she finds another reason to look forward to dreams when she encounters an otherworldly girl named Ashlinn, who bears a message from Victoria’s comatose brother. Ashlinn is tasked with conjuring pleasant dreams for humans, and through the course of their nightly meetings in Victoria’s mind, the two become close. Ashlinn also helps Victoria understand asexuality and realize that she, too, is asexual.
But then Victoria needs Ashlinn’s aid outside the realm of dreams, and Ashlinn assumes human form to help Victoria make it to her dance audition. They take the opportunity to explore New York City, their feelings for each other, and the nature of their shared asexuality. But like any dream, it’s too good to last. Ashlinn must shrug off her human guise and resume her duties creating pleasant nighttime visions—or all of humanity will pay the price.
Note: I received an ebook copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: ★★★☆☆
We Awaken is an important book in the world of Young Adult literature because it explores asexuality in a way that is clear and understandable. Another one of its strengths is its plethora of representation; not only does it showcase asexuality, but the main romance is between two women, one of whom is a person of colour.
I thought the descriptions in this book were bright and vibrant, transporting me everywhere from the busy streets of New York City to a stale diner in New Jersey. The settings were staged well, making the book easier to imagine and dive into.
One of my favourite parts is the compromise that the characters must come to. I thought that while it was heartbreaking, it was a good arrangement and ultimately benefitted most people. It was really the ending that made the most sense, and I was glad to see it happen. The ending wasn’t fully Happily Ever After, but it was the closest these characters were going to get, which was nice.
Now, unfortunately, this book didn’t ring all of my bells. The idea behind it was promising: a fantasy novel about a girl who falls for an ethereal being and learns about asexuality along the way. I was not, however, completely sold on every aspect of the execution.
One of my biggest issues is that there are so many facets to Victoria’s life that are only ever really glimpsed at. We get bits and pieces, and a chapter or two about her dance life, but otherwise we don’t go into major details, which I feel has removed me a bit emotionally from the characters. The story itself did get a little repetitive and monotonous, too, because very few aspects of her life were explored. It would have been nice to learn more about Victoria outside of her relationship with Ashlinn – heck, it would have been neat to learn more about Ashlinn, too!
On that note, I feel like the characters weren’t written to their full potential. There are so many things that these characters could have done to advance the plot or make things intense – especially Semira – but not a lot was done with them. It also would have been nice to have the fantasy aspect be a little more prominent (which could have happened with more action from Semira), and the explanation of asexuality flow with the story better instead of having it just be a lesson on top of the story.
Overall: While it’s not perfect, it is still an important contribution to YA literature and I hope you’ll read it.