Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:
1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.
Things that actually happen:
1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.
Sad to say, I was not wild about Wild Awake.
In the novel, we follow Kiri, a girl whose hobbies include rockin’ out with her best friend Lukas and engaging in illegal drug use. Five years after the death of her sister, Kiri is still struggling to find herself and the person she’s supposed to be in a world she doesn’t necessarily understand. As the story progresses, she meets and falls for Skunk, an ex indie rock hit and current paranoia phenom.
A large problem I had with Wild Awake was that there was no lesson learned, no message delivered, no point made. It’s been five days since I finished Wild Awake and I still haven’t been able to comprehend what the author wanted me to walk away with besides the fact that maybe your parents shouldn’t hide that your dead sister was actually murdered from you.
At times, Wild Awake was extremely unbelievable. As a book being, well, a book, I understand that there will be unrealistic events and as a reader you have no choice but to go along and pretend it would actually be possible in the real world because if not it at this point it may become very hard to enjoy yourself. As a contemporary piece of work, though, there were some things my mind couldn’t let slide. For one, Kiri’s parents don’t allow Kiri to drive because her sister “died in a car accident”. Sometime within the novel it is revealed that Sukey, Kiri’s sister, was actually murdered in her apartment. Of course, explaining this to a twelve year-old is difficult and may not be appropriate at the time, but when five years have passed and said parents are using a nonexistent car accident as a driving-abstinence excuse, it becomes rather manipulative in the parenting department. Aside from this. Kiri’s parents decide to leave her home alone over summer for an unspecified amount of time but if I had to guess it went on for over one month, maybe two. Considering their older daughter died alone in her apartment, I doubt any parent would allow their seventeen year-old daughter to stay home alone overnight for more than a weekend.
Kiri’s character voice was refreshing to read and I enjoyed most of her sarcasm and her apparent “monomaniac” moments. Skunk, or the love bison, as Kiri likes to refer to him as, was just as unique a character and the play of psychological disorders was interesting to see unravel between the two. It gave the novel an unexpected twist and made it a little deeper than it might have been originally, though still unsettling and messy, to say the least.
The pacing in this stand-alone was eye-gouging, at times. There’d be run-on pages of simple scenery or irrelevant facts and details I could have done without. Even on pages where dialogue was present, nothing still managed to be going on. The plot was circling most of the time and by the books end I felt like I’d been aimlessly wandering around a story’s setting where no sort of storyline had actually been produced.
My biggest issue with Wild Awake was its conclusion. Smith made no move to offer a resolution to Kiri’s problems, which, technically speaking, there wasn’t one to begin with. Besides finding the true origin of her sister’s death, falling for a dude named Skunk, and doing more drugs than usual, Kiri hadn’t developed as a character or person in any way. Uncovering the mystery of her sister’s death didn’t do anything to change her lifestyle or way of thinking at all. If anything it felt like the author was working to promote drug use and other not-so-norm activity.
I wish there was more to say, but all in all, Wild Awake is simply a book about a girl’s runaround way of handling life five years after the death of her sister.
**Thanks to Hilary T. Smith for the ARC of Wild Awake.**