Reader reviews and comments on When She Woke, plus links to write your own review.

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When She Woke

A Novel

By Hillary Jordan

When She Woke
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • Hardcover: Oct 2011,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: Sep 2012,
    368 pages.

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There are currently 9 reader reviews for When She Woke
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Sharon (04/18/13)

Pretty Good...for Awhile
I will not summarize the plot since other writers have done a fine job. What I will say is that the book arrives at a point where it feels as though the writer ran out of steam. The last part of the book was a surprising let down for me.
Kathleen (01/10/13)

Changed my mind on Dystopian novel's
I usually see dystopian in a book description and immediately count the book out. This one mentioned THE SCARLET LETTER, so I was hooked. The price on Kindle didn't hurt either.
I loved this book, it has so much to discuss: politics, religion, women's rights, fear, shame, alienation and shunning.
The cover show's the protagonist, Hannah, as a red woman. That is how people are shown to be criminals instead of being keep in prisons. The ramifications of that are immense.
This is a very fast read but gives a powerful punch. You will be thinking about this novel long after reading it. I have suggested to many people to read it, it was that good.
techeditor (01/09/13)

pleasant surprise
WHEN SHE WOKE by Hillary Jordan was a pleasant surprise for me. From what I had heard, I had expected a futuristic book about a world where abortion was a crime punishable by turning the criminal’s skin red. Yes, there’s that. But there’s so much more to it. And Jordan’s writing is very good.

You can believe me. This comes from a pro-lifer.

At first, I thought my expectations were accurate. But, although pro-lifers in this book have tunnel vision and are cruel, which might have irritated me, the story has so many twists and turns, I really did enjoy it.

My biggest surprise about WHEN SHE WOKE was that so much happens in a relatively short book. I say “relatively” because most books that have this much action are twice as long as WHEN SHE WOKE.

Too many authors love the way they write so much that they write too much and subject the reader to many paragraphs that can easily be cut without detracting from the story. But Jordan has cut the garbage paragraphs in WHEN SHE WOKE. Don’t skip. Jordan’s writing is concise, and all of it is necessary.
Aaron S (12/01/12)

Not quite Hawthorne...
Hillary Jordan takes the concept of Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter and takes it into a new era, one in the potentially not so distant future from our own. She acknowledges her borrowing of the premise of Scarlet Letter openly, and does enough differently that it won't weigh on your mind too heavily.

The protagonist, Hannah, has had her skin died red as punishment for murder, turning her into a social pariah. Jordan uses the novel to explore issues such as abortion, separation of church and state, women's rights, and religion. Her politics seem rather clear, but even if you don't agree with them, the book has enough drive and the characters are likable enough that they can carry the story.

The novel starts strong, but falters a bit towards the end as events start to rush faster and faster. It doesn't feel quite as much building to a crescendo as it does an attempt to wrap the novel up. Still, it is an enjoyable novel that does well with the premise. Hawthorne would be pleased, I think.
bob sauerbrey (10/23/12)

From shame to what?
This excellent variation of the themes of self-righteous power, the disempowerment of the vulnerable, and the steps toward freedom & courage is difficult to put down, even when it is most disturbing. The story is a nod to the prurient morality of the 19th century as played out in a not too distant future. Wonderful character development throughout while exploring issues too uncomfortably familiar in a bigoted, narrow, and simplistic national culture duped by those who promise to keep it safe at the expense of the dignity and conscience of every single person in that twisted world where the narrow views of the few manage the behavior of the many. Dystopian literature at its best.
Martie (10/23/12)

When She Woke
Intriguing and very interesting first half and then became common toward the end as though the author ran out of exotic ideas. This story could very well be a future reality, the way the religious right is gaining so much power in the U.S. I remember reading Sinclair Lewis' "It Can't Happen Here." Oh yes is can!!! Best not to be silent when freedoms start slipping away. I think this would make a good movie. When She Woke kept making me think, "hey, this is Hunger Games for adults."
Sandra H. (11/13/11)

When She Woke
Having taught Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter" to numerous high school juniors, I bought the book as soon as I saw it advertised. And, yes, I can see the resemblance to Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" as well. But ultimately a book must be judged on its own merits. While Jordan's novel has a political point of view, an astute reader can look beyond that and see a terrific story with a likable if fallible protagonist who must come to terms with her own life as well as the society she finds herself in. And this is what happens. As she questions her life and the restrictions that govern it, she eventually makes choices that form her character.
This would be a wonderful book club read, especially if the members have differing political and religious beliefs but are strong enough not to believe that their own views are the only valid ones. It is also a book that forces readers to look around at the restrictions put on our lives and those of others through public attitudes, the press, government, and the instant opinions that take over in our instant news world.
Read it. Like it. Hate it. But be sure to talk about it.
mainlinebooker (11/02/11)

fascinating
A wonderful Margaret Atwood type of dystopian tale but, I tend to disagree with the reviewers. I was looking for something more. In fact, what I loved about it was how this mild dystopian nature could be related directly to today's events. I thought it was a winner and definitely "fed" my soul; I could not put it down. GREAT for discussion groups..
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