When We Wake by Karen Healey (Allen & Unwin)
It’s 2027. Tegan Oglietti is at an environmental protest with her friends when a stray bullet meant for the attending prime minister, hits her instead. She wakes up 100 years later in a world of ever rising oceans, a fierce sun, where red meat is almost non-existent, and the sexual discriminations of the past long gone. When she was 16 years old, she had signed her body over to medical science in case of death. The experts considered her a good case to be clinically frozen; an experiment to help revive soldiers lost in action. At least that’s what they tell her.
Tegan is surrounded by media every chance they get and extremist groups want their say too. Australia now has a no migrant policy and some see her as a migrant from another time. A religious group see her as an affront to god and want her to commit suicide. And to Tegan’s disgust the general public call her 'The Living Dead Girl'.
As she learns about her surroundings and is allowed to go to school (with a bodyguard at her side), she makes new friends, which helps her deal with her longing for her old life. She is still grieving about losing her mum and best friend Alex, and most of all her boyfriend of only one day – Dalmar.
She is still closely monitored by the army and then is told she will be giving a TV interview. She is frightened but angry when told her answers will be carefully scripted and she is not to step out of them.
When Tegan throws the interview she has been trained for, she is held at gunpoint by the very people who revived her – livid with her outbursts at the interviewer. She escapes with the help of her foster mother (Dr Carmen) and finds her way to a friend’s house (whom she met at school). Tegan has been suspicious all along as to why she was used in the experiment and not someone more important, and with her friend’s help they try to discover why. What they find is more shocking than Tegan’s awakening.
This story is told by Tegan through a news casting service while she is in hiding. She knows she will be caught eventually, but at least everyone will know the truth.
When We Wake is set in Australia and is a very possible future. Global warming, rising oceans, climate change and other political issues are part of Tegan’s world in 2027 and still 100 years later. This might be set in the future, but Tegan is a believable character, dealing with many issues teens face in our time - friendships, school, relationships and making choices about her own future. A riveting read.
RRP$22.00 P/B 293 Pages
Reviewed by Adele Broadbent