When all of your twitter friends are reading and discussing the same book, the pressure to read it kind of becomes expotential, especially when they are reading an early copy and you find that you also have that same book in your posession. Y’all, I read Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith because I WANTED TO FIT IN WITH MY TWITTER FRIENDS. Thankfully, this was the good sort of peer pressure, and not the type that gets you arrested. I ended up mostly pleased with Wild Awake, a book that has one of the strongest voices I have read in a long time. Now, not everyone is going to fall head over heels for this book, as I think there’s a certain demographic that will love it and one that just won’t dig it. Personally, I liked Smith’s debut but have a few reservations.
After smoking weed in her best friend Lukas’s basement, Kiri heads to her parent-less home where she receives a mysterious phone call from an older man asking her to pick up her sister Suki’s things from the dangerous part of the city. As Kiri’s parents are on a cruise, she decides, hey why not. And so, putting herself at considerable risk, she goes to get deceased Suki’s things and thus unleashes a chain of events that will uncover the true circumstances about Suki’s death. OH OH and there is a boy too, who is decidedly not Lukas. And a lot of music and piano playing. And really, that’s Wild Awake in a super nut shell. Obviously more things go on and happen but you totally should go into without spoilers.Like I went in only knowing that my friends were flipping the frick out and OMG-ing all over the place.
I wouldn’t say that Kiri is the sort of strong, kick ass heroine that I love. HOWEVER, I liked her for the most part. She is quite determined and stubborn. She has a huge heart, as evidenced by her treatment of Doug, a junkie who basically lives in the really bad part of town (he knew Suki). I think that Kiri is the sort of teenager who definitely does not have her shit together and that’s perfectly fine. Not every teen does. And well, Kiri is dealing with absentee parents who seem to want her to be the perfect kid to make up for how much of a problem Suki was. Kiri is also pretty manic — like she doesn’t sleep, she thinks she can play piano in her head, she is quite trusting of strangers. Oh and she definitely smokes a lot of j’s in Wild Awake. She’s DEFINITELY realistic,gritty, raw and true, ya know? And yes, those are the absolute most cliche words ever to describe a contemporary, but I honestly think in this case, it applies.
Kiri has a love interest. Which to be 100% honest didn’t entirely make me swoon. Yet, if you’re a fan of those books where two totally fucked up people fall in love, I think you’ll like this. Personally, there were some things that her love interest did that were dealbreakers to me. And no, he’s not a bad boy or the abusive sort AT all, just for ME and me alone, I was like eh, I could take you or leave you after that. However, there were some pretty sweet moments, and okay I won’t lie a kissing scene where I definitely underlined the page.
I think that Wild Awake is it’s strongest in it’s voice. It’s not like anything I’ve read in a long time. The book is written in first person and yeah, getting inside Kiri’s head is kind of a trip. I’ll be honest, I thought a lot of it was weird — but in this case, I was fine with the weird. This is because the weird blended into utterly gorgeous prose that made me want to dog ear pages. As I was reading I kept thinking there’s a certain wild cadence to this book and I love that, love it so, so much. And ya know? Wild Awake is the sort of read where if you want a contemporary that isn’t cookie cutter, but a bit literary and kind of like beat poetry, you’ll like the writing style.
In all, Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith is an impressive debut. There were parts where I questioned Kiri’s life choices, but then I was like — hey I remember being a teenager and also making awful choices and sat back and let the book unfold. Kiri is an interesting heroine, and Wild Awake, a compelling story. I’d wholeheartedly recommend this to people who are fans of the off-beat and who don’t get all bent out of shape when a character doesn’t do what you want them to do. Seriously, this is a great book and utterly enjoyable.
Disclosure: Received for review
Other reviews of Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith:
The Perpetual Page Turner – “her energy just pulses through you and holds you captive.”
Real Men Read YA – “will go bat-shit crazy with the “I don’t read much” teenage crowd”