Wake has many POVs, here, but starts out with the POVs from the two main characters. Jem, the male protagonist is recovering from cancer and is still dealing with the side effects of his illness. His family is very supportive of him, including his younger sister Elise who is very protective of Jem and makes him homemade milkshakes, the only thing he can keep down. Because Jem missed too many days of school because of his cancer, he has stayed back a year. He’s not thrilled about going back to school because he’s still very sick. He can’t eat correctly, lost a great deal of weight that makes him look skeletal and is bald. He feels like a freak and everyone treats him with kid gloves. He just wants to be a normal teenage boy again but his body stops him for doing so.
During his Social Studies class, Jem is partnered up with a new girl, Willa. He and Willa don’t hit it off right away. Jem wants to be left alone but for some reason Willa sneaks into his thoughts and he decides to give her a chance and see if they can be friends. Willa on the other hand isn’t sure what to think of Jem. She’s really not interested in being friends with him or anyone else at her new school. She now lives with her older brother since she can’t live with her parents, especially with her mother who can barely look or talk to her. Willa is hiding a big secret that has to do with the death of her sister who also died from cancer. She seems to understand what Jem is going through and goes out of her way to make him soup like she did with her sister to help him gain weight, including establishing a relationship with him, although she doesn’t want to rely on Jem too much because there’s a possibility his cancer could come back and he could die.
Jem starts to fall in love with Willa and wants to break down those emotional walls she has put up around her. Most of the time she drives him crazy and they end up fighting and screaming and not talking to one another for days. But eventually they come back to one another because of the bond they have created. Then Willa takes a chance and tells Jem her dark secret, which causes Jem to lash out at her where she almost falls into a destructive behavior that could destroy not only herself but Jem who feels the only reason he can keep living is because of Willa.
Wake does hit you hard. Abria doesn’t hold back any punches, especially with Jem and what he goes through because of his cancer. For the most part, Jem's illness was handled wonderfully and I do wish there were more YA type books with the POV from the primary male character. I adored Jem and everything he stood for. I rooted for him to get better and wanted him to live a full and happy life. I loved Jem’s relationship with his family, but his sister Elisa is unrealistic because she acts much younger than she is. She's a sixteen year old who acts more like a pre-teen or perhaps even younger and she had a very grating personality.
I couldn’t stand Willa. The way she acts is a big contradiction most of the time and the twist regarding her sister fell flat for me, as well as the constant fighting, and tension for tension sake between Jem and her was incredibly annoying. At times I felt these two were perfect for one another, but then something would happen and I wanted to smack them and tell them to search elsewhere for satisfaction. Their relationship was a combustible one, but by the end I did believe their HEA, although the ending was too pat and sudden. A big problem I had with Wake was the length. It could have been cut by 100 or 150 pages. Half way through there’s too much head jumping and POVs that threw me out of the story and far too many secondary characters who don’t seem to have any importance as a whole to the story. There were also some actions and scenes that don’t make sense and again don’t bring any importance to the plot or help motivate Jem or Willa. The language and sex is in your face, not watered down, but does have a sense of truthfulness to it. The way Jem obsesses with sex and having sex with Willa is exactly what I would expect from a boy his age. Even though this is considered a young adult novel, again with the situations, language and sex, it fits more of an adult audience. Even though this is about teens, the subject matter is very adult. There’s a lot of cursing and many sexual situations, none fade to black that you usually find in young adult books When it comes to young adult books, IMO, I expect it to be more subtle. But again that's my opinion and a subjective view.
I was ready to give Wake a B- grade because I was engaged to a point, but as I was reading I found out a big WTF for me. I had no idea this was former Twilight fan fiction. Because of that I’m lowering this a grade and can’t recommend Wake to readers. Some may think I’m being mean and cruel as a reviewer, but my opinion about publishing fan fiction that has been posted on a fan fiction board, much like E.L. James, among other authors where they make their money off their former fan fiction is very well known and one I don't agree with. If I find out a book I’ve read is former fan fiction that has been published, as is the case of most Twilight fan fiction being published these days, I will lower my grade, and so is the case with Wake. (You can still read Wake as the former fan fiction titled as Dead on My Feet where Jem is Edward Cullen and Willa is Bella Swan, including most of the cast of Twilight here).
Wake has a lot to recommend for it but needs to be heavily edited and fixed to be a more cohesive story. I can see there being a sequel. As for reading that sequel if it does get written, I won’t be reading it because after reading some excerpts of Dead on my Feet starring Edward and Bella as Jem and Willa, I’ve become sour regarding Wake and will try to find other young adult fiction that isn’t former Twilight fan fiction. (Self-Published, $2.99)
Final Grade: C