Review Blog

Jul 17 2014

While we run by Karen Healey

cover image

When we wake Bk 2. Allen & Unwin, 2014. ISBN 9781743435458.
(Age 14+) Highly recommended. Science fiction. Dystopian. Following When we wake, this story looks at what life was like for Abdi Taalib and Tegan Oglietti, the girl who had died in 2027, frozen and then brought back to life, a 100 years later. The Government has a cryonics project that is experimenting with young refugees and the pair are forced to be the public voice for Project Ark. Forced apart and closely supervised by their cruel handlers, Diane and Lat, Abdi and Tegan's feelings for each other are manipulated and each is tortured to ensure that the other complies with their demands.
While When we wake was told in Tegan's voice, this is narrated by Abdi, a young man who had won a music scholarship to Australia. The reader is pulled through the awful plight of the pair as their handlers torture them to ensure that they comply with the Government's publicity demands. They can only see each other on a TV screen and have no way of knowing if either has completely given into the Government's belief system. Healey pulls no punches here, the torture is explicit and it is all too believable that a political party would resort to torture to ensure that they get what they want.
Healey brings a diverse set of characters to the stage, ranging from the evil Diane who sexually abuses Abdi to Lat, who threatens to rape Tegan, but who is painted as less evil than Diane. Abdi and Tegan's friends, Bethari and Joph, feature again in this book each bringing their own unique personalities and skills to the movement to stop Project Ark.
The themes of the ethics of regeneration of frozen children, the plight of refugees, of destruction of the planet and the hope of a new life are all dealt with in a thought provoking way that make this an outstanding book for teens (and adults). There is plenty to think about and the cleverly constructed plot, exciting sequencing and fabulous character studies make it a stand out read.
Pat Pledger

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