Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Literally the Best Reviews: The Awoken

The Awoken - Katelyn Monroe Howes
Dutton Publishing
416 pages

We live in a time where across the globe being a little bit different can mean ostracization or worse instead of being accepted. Instead of learning from history, we tend to ignore it and repeat the same mistakes. The Awoken by Katelyn Monroe Howes addresses this and takes it to new levels. In a novel that should border on science-fiction, it instead extrapolates forward in time a very possible arc of current events.

Abilene Rivers is a young woman, bent on making change in society. However, in the midst of her fight, and at a far too young of an age, she finds herself struggling for her life. Cancer has riddled her body and her only hope is to be cryogenically frozen until a cure can be found. In the early days of the procedure she “dies” and is frozen away from the world. When she is awoken a century later, the world is drastically changed in appearance, but eerily similar in many aspects.

Society is at war over the definition of a living person. Are the dead who are brought back to life after cryogenics actually people? Do they have rights, or are they considered abominations? In the United States and several other countries around the world, the resurrected are considered illegal and can be shot on sight. They have already died, and in the eyes of the law, they are still dead and have no rights to life. The warehouses of bodies in stasis are in a legal limbo since they have paid to remain in that state. It is when they are resurrected that the legal implications begin to apply. However, even those repositories of people waiting to be awoken are in danger from radical forces attempting to destroy them.

As a result of the argument between the pro-life and the anti-life forces, the country was irrevokably broken into separate countries. A new country, on the western coast of North America is far more sympathetic to the plight of “the Awoken.” Across the Midwest, eastern seaboard and a captured part of Canada, the opposite is true. There is no place in this world for these dead bodies to be reanimated to walk among the living. In these areas, bands of resistance fight back against governmental forces. Lives are at stake, in their view.

When Abilene is brought back, she is thrust into the battle in ways she never could have imagined. Over her years of stasis, she has become the face of the pro-life movement, thanks to the love of her life from before she died. She is a reluctant hero who has no idea who to trust, or if she can trust anyone. She must forge her own path between the paths that others seem bent on sending her down.

This novel mirrors the current debate that is happening around the country with the abortion debate. What is life? When does it end? Can it restart? The argument rages in violence. Those who are resurrected are singled out and chased into the shadows to save their lives. Howes captures the essence of an unwinnable debate in her narrative and the clashes of beliefs. No matter where you stand on the issues, The Awoken requires the reader to come to their own conclusions on the life question and how far they’re really willing to go for those tenets.

The Awoken by Katelyn Monroe Howes is a novel does not have simple answers. There’s a degree of nuance for each action, something that seems to have been lost in our modern debates. Her story shows that it is deeper than simple black and white. There will be some readers who will be challenged by the virtues set forth and may decline to read this. I would state that sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone. Read something that isn’t your usual forte. As for me, I read this worried about how much of this future could come to pass. In these troubled days, we are far more content in pointing out our differences rather than what we have in common. As long as this trend continues, the future described in this book becomes more and more possible in our own future. 

Craig Bacon would love to see what the world will be like in 100 years. He just needs a TARDIS. Or a Delorean.