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Wide Awake (2006)

Wide Awake (2006)

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3.72 of 5 Votes: 2
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0375834664 (ISBN13: 9780375834660)
knopf books for young readers

About book Wide Awake (2006)

I want you to believe me when I say that David Levithan really is one of the best writers in YA. I won't pretend he's consistent, but when he's at his best (Every Day, Will Grayson Will Grayson, Love is the Higher Law), he creates complex characters, with strong voices, and unique premises that only could've come from him. He's also one of the best writers of LGBT fiction I can think of, except maybe Malinda Lo. He's one of the few authors who really explores the different people that identify as gay, and what that identification means in the real world, all without writing stories that feel like vehicles for a positive message. Two Boys Kissing is the best display of what it means to be a gay teenager I know of.I say all that because all that makes it all the more disappointing when he writes terrible books like this one. This fails at everything that Levithan would later succeed at in Two Boys Kissing - whereas the latter balances character development and a realistic political message, this is idealistic, unrealistic, with bland characters. It's a vehicle for Levithan's mainstream liberalism. The political message itself is far more flawed than the one that appears in Two Boys Kissing, and I plan on writing a piece commenting on that later. But here, I wanted to comment on this failing as a book, rather than Levithan's failing as a political commentator.The thing that stands out the most is how obvious it is that the characters and writing are Levithan's default. None of the secondary characters get any real development - they're all just nice, dedicated people. Duncan, our protagonist, is the only one that feels even remotely like a real person, and he's the same narrator that appears in a lot of Levithan's books. You could've called him Nick, Ely, Dash, the unnamed narrator of The Lover's Dictionary, or even A and I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference. Both in personality and voice, he's the same as all of those protagonists of Levithan's. This isn't the only time Levithan has focused on something other than character development - the focus of Love is the Higher Law was on New York in general, rather than the specific characters. But there, I never felt like Levithan had forgotten about developing his characters. They weren't the focus, but after reading the book, I still felt like I knew them. I still got a sense of their lives outside of the plot, I still felt like they were real. That's not the case here - for all I know, Duncan doesn't do anything other than go to political rallies. We know nothing about him except his views on politics. It's boring and frustrating.The plot itself is difficult to get into without talking about how I feel about Levithan's political views. But I will say this: the way Levithan set up his conflict was pretty frustrating. There really is no conflict outside of the broader politics, outside of the (completely predictable) question of whether or not Stein will be president or not. Duncan experiences no personal conflict. His character has no growth - Levithan doesn't even pretend. There is a minor conflict, among some of Duncan's friends, involving one of his friends cheating on another. But it's not at all engaging or necessary - it feels tacked on.There really is almost nothing at all to say about this book that doesn't have to do with Levithan's political opinion. This is a politically dominated book. Much like 1984 or Fahrenheit 451, it only exists for the purposes of being an essay. The best I can give it is that Levithan's prose is excellent is always. Other than that, this is Levithan's absolute worst book. The only other book of his that even comes close is Naomi and Ely's No-Kiss List, and even then, the lack of quality was mostly Rachel Cohn's fault. Levithan has so many books that are far better than this - really, if you want to read David Levithan, I'd recommend any of his books over this one.

Honestly, not really impressed by this novel. As far as the Goodreads rating system goes, I should probably give it 2 stars, but I feel that doesn't really show how I feel about it, so 3 it is. Basically, this is a novel about history in the making - in the future. It's a little confusing, I suppose, but not so much when you read it. The problem I have here is that Levithan's characters are so one dimensional they're practically stereotypes. Not quite, but almost. In a young adult novel, is it too much to ask for for characters to sound like people? It's not a children's fairytale, after all, you can't get away with transparency in your characters. Compound this with the fact that the plot is also very straight forward, without a real climax that involves confrontation, that the characters don't face a real struggle, either emotional or physical, or, when they do, Levithan writes it as he writes his characters: one dimensional, almost as if he's skimming over it. Maybe that's the real problem I have with Levithan's novels, the wasted potential. This is the fourth of his novels I've read, and while Love is the Higher Law and Every Me, Every You were quite good, particularly the former in its emotional depth, this novel and Boy Meets Boy were very shallow. Yes, it's nice to have an LGBT novel that's light, with a happy ending, but there is such a thing as too light. If this novel were longer, delving in and exploring the various characters' emotional complexities and their relationships with one another, still keeping the exact same plot, it would have been utterly fantastic. But it didn't, so it disappoints. Still, for what it's worth, it's nice when you don't want to read something too heavy.

Do You like book Wide Awake (2006)?

For such a short read this book contains an alarming amount of brilliant ideas and predictions for our countries not too distance future. I would love to see the day were a Jewish gay president is elected into office. It's amazing that this book was originally published in 2006 and how it holds even more true today. Levithan's insight is incredibly although I feel that his optimism is a bit too strong. As much as I would love nothing more than to see our society progress to a "greater community" i still feel that there are way too many "Decents" fighting back. I would like to see Levithan's projection on gun control. One of my favorite ideas from the novel was the "non mall". Instead of window shopping with friends and eventually becoming a hoarder you would have the experience and spend the money but it would go towards a charity and you would leave empty handed. Think of all the money that gets spend on things we don't need and often times really want. I know that I have been guilty of this more than I would like to admit. We are a society of over consumption on so many levels and it breaks my heart to think about it. If we had less and gave more the chance of us reaching a more peaceful, happy, and productive society/community would be all the greater. I don't think we will get close to Levithan's ideals in my lifetime but I'd like to believe if I have children they have a chance to live in a more loved community.
—Ashley Farley

Fantastic book about a gay youth narrator who works on a campaign for the first gay Jewish presidential candidate. When the results are challenged, the narrator has to make the decision about whether or not to go to Kansas to ensure the election isn't stolen. A particularly relevant book to our times, despite being written in prior to the 2008 election. A divided country struggles to find unity and the youth are at the forefront of the movement to fix our country.Every young reader should pick this book up.

There are three things about David Levithan's books that I adore: the tenderness with which the protagonist views the world, the writing that has so much energy it seems to pop off the page, and finally, the creation of a world that is so idealistic and believable that I want to pack my bags and move to it. It's the last one that I had a problem with in this book.Wide Awake is set sometime in the distant future where teens hang out at non-shopping malls and give their money to charity rather than spend it on CDs and clothing, being gay is no big thing, America has just elected its first gay, Jewish president. To be clear, I'd back my bags and move to this America in a heartbeat, if I believed it could exist. So part of my ambivalence to the story is my cynicism, but the other part is that the messages seem so heavy handed. Early in the book the social commentary and political statements overtook the characters and the story.

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