But Caitlin's brain long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her navigate online. So when she receives an implant to restore her sight, instead of seeing reality, the landscape of the World Wide Web explodes into her consciousness, spreading out all around her in a riot of colors and shapes.
While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something - some other - lurking in the background. And it's getting more and more intelligent with each passing day.
BONUS AUDIO: Includes an exclusive introduction written and read by author Robert J. Sawyer.
©2009 SFWRITER.COM Inc.; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
"The thematic diversity - and profundity - makes this one of Sawyer's strongest works to date." (Publishers Weekly)
"Unforgettable. Impossible to put down." (Jack McDevitt)
"Thoughtful and engaging, and a great beginning to a fascinating trilogy." (Robert Charles Wilson)
Robert J. Sawyer is my favorite science fiction author, hands down. He delivers a kind of science fiction I've always enjoyed - one that breaks past the science in to psychology, sociology or morality, but is still grounded in excellent characters with whom the reader can easily connect.
In WAKE, we meet Caitlin, a young woman with a congenital blindness and a gift for mathematics. Her voice rings true, and when she is given a chance at sight via a new technology, she finds herself capable of "seeing" the internet. At the same time, other events conspire to bring a glimmer of consciousness to the net itself, and the two stories - Caitlin's sight, and the nascent entity's growth - parallel in a marvelously paced story that kept me going.
As the first book in a trilogy, there's ground work being built, and I was definitely left satisfied with the individual novel, but looking forward to where the story will head in the next installment, WATCH.
If you do enjoy listening to books, this one just bumped "Memoirs of a Geisha" from my #1 Listening Experience position. The multiple reading voices really added a performance depth to the reading that took something already great and made it all the more enjoyable. Bravo to the whole cast!
Wake marks my first encounter with Robert J. Sawyer, ad I've come away from the novel thoroughly impressed. I'm legally blind myself, though I do have some residual vision, so I immediately identified with protagonist Caitlin Decter, and I felt that she was a pretty believable blind character. The concept of visualizing the web was also intriguing, as was the premise that the web has some sort of underlying consciousness.
My only complaint about the book is that, even for the first novel in a trilogy it feels incomplete. One of the plotlines is simply dropped midway through the book. I understand that these plotlines will be picked up in the sequel, but an adept author should be able to bring about at least smaller resolutions within the overarching story at the end of each book, and I don't feel like Sawyer accomplished this.
To end on a positive note, the Audible Frontiers production is fantastic, with strong voice acting from all the narrators.
I've been an Audie Awards judge since 2008. I have enjoyed audiobooks since the days when they were called "Books on Tape".
Sawyer's novels remind me of Ray Bradbury's writing for some reason. His novels work around a fantastic premise and then he builds in very human characters with their own flaws and shortcomings into the scene. His facts are incredibly well researched, rivaling or even outstripping Michael Chrichton in factual detail. He certainly beats Chricton in character development. I find myself learning a little something about the universe every time I read Sawyer.
In this book, Sawyer, is also (perhaps unwittingly) updating and reliving the premise of an old Bradbury short story called "Dial Double Zero", where an intelligence is spawned within the phone system.
In Sawyer's version, a "bicameral" intelligence spawns within the internet, a product of a Chinese telecom blackout -- and like Bradbury's "Dial Double Zero", this intelligence contacts a solitary human being. The irony in this story is that the 'web mind' can see, but can't hear, while Katlyn can hear, but is blind except for a new, web connected electronic eye implant and finds out that this growing web mind shares her one eye - perhaps in future novels we're lining up a modern day threesome of Greae Sisters from Greek Mythology? We shall see. There's still one loose plot thread for the next novel.
Unlike others, I thought the narration was excellent. This is a multi-narrator reading, which is not to be confused with a full cast reading or an audiodrama. The woman reading the voice of a 16 year old girl is also reading the voice of a Japanese coding expert, a middle aged Texas born mother and a quiet, yet kind father with his own issues. I found her voice both warm and endearing to the main character's personality, while quite capable of modulating the other character's voices quite clearly. The other narrators were also similarly skilled. The voice of the web mind could win an award for his performance.
I see so far that the reviews have been a bit "hate it or love it" I will not comment on the underlying premise of sentient web mind. It's the basic assumption of the book, I didn't question it, I just sat back and thought "Okay, that's the assumption" and then sat back and listened.
And enjoy I did. A mix of different story lines, a good presentation, and it ended all too quickly with me wanting more of the story. Realising that the next book in the series is not available was is just a big tease! I will be downloading it as soon as it's available!
Overall I give it high marks.
This book got such great reviews, I was shocked at how little I liked it. So, I thought I should post a review just to provide a counterpoint.
The story (the most important part, to me) was just not very interesting. It was very slow paced with a lot of useless side-plots, not much in the way of conflict (a key to good story), and just not a lot happening. It is of course book 1 of a trilogy, so despite my powering through it just so I could finish it, it didn't provide any satisfaction. Overall, I thought the story was just quite boring.
The actual writing style was, I suppose, your typical overly-literal sci-fi nerd voice. I'm not a big fan of that style. What I really disliked, though, was the constant use of puns which everyone seemed to find hilarious (including a teenage girl... apparently teen girls love cheesy puns, who knew). Generally speaking the attempts at humor were cringeworthy. If you're not funny in real life, you shouldn't try to write characters who are funny.
The audio production was good -- the voice acting was good, and I liked the way they approached the production.
In his author's note, the author comes across as an affable guy and so I actually feel guilty writing this very negative review. But I felt compelled to weigh in to warn potential readers that I found this to be a very tedious and un-entertaining book.
Yes, it's young adult fiction, so you need to understand and accept some things from that perspective. One review faulted the book for the slang, innuendo and the product placement....but story is told from the perspective of a nearly 16 year old girl. Spend some time with a group of 16 year olds and you will hear all of that and more! I found the narration to be pleasant and the story to be interesting and well told. I liked how Sawyer brought in other authors, books as well scientific and mathematical ideas into the story to substantiate the premise. It gives you something more to research if you are interested in the theories he presents.
This book engaged me in ways I have never been engaged in any science fiction type book. Part of this is that I, as a blind person, related on a deep level to Caitlin, the main character. That said, beyond the plot, which managed to be interessting, humorous and awe-inspiring, I found that the narrators did a superb job. I have never enjoyed multiple narrator audiobooks that I can recall, but this book and the lovely narrators were wonderful! I highly recommend the book and can't wait to see the next book!A
I really do find it interesting that I am a dissenting voice here, compared to most of the other reviews. The voice acting was good. It often can detract for me from a story to hear multiple real voices in and out of the book, but this one worked well. Unfortunately, it didn't help the very long dragged out parts in the story that really just seemed to go on forever without any cohesion in sight (seriously no pun intended, as opposed to the ones in the book).
I started to think/hope that would end up being like "cloud atlas" and there would be a whole "oooooooohhhhhh, clever" at the end... there wasn't. Another thing that really bothered me was the constant Interactive brands mentioned. I work in Interactive and already those things are crazy outdated for the most part (well, not Google of course ;)) so that lost a lot for me.
Don't get me wrong, I liked how the author put in technical information about how the web works, but at times it was too much and it didnt further the story even though it made me want to write it down to hand to people who ask me those questions day to day ;)
The story - it had promise, but I just cant bring myself to slog through 3 more hours of the online being's self awareness transformation or all the subplots that are so fleshed out and then just dropped unresolved. Maybe they will be in the next books, but I really cant bring myself to find out.
Can somebody just tell me how it all ends?
I wouldn't recommend this unless they really have a lot of patience.
The gorilla painting... what does that say?
It has a follow-up book, but I just cant see myself reading it. It needs one for sure as there were lots and lots of loose ends. Personally, I will just create my own ending in my head. That way I can save the 10 hours.
54 years old, blue collar worker, I like imported beer, when it is not hay fever season. Favorite authors; Card, King, Hobb, Koontz, Clarke, Iggulden, Silverberg, Michener, Krakauer
At first I thought this was going to be a YA book, then I thought it was a YA book for Girl Math Geeks. I honestly don't know who this book was meant for. I am married to a Math Geek, but I can not recommend it to her, as there really isn't that much math in it. There is a mischmatch of sciences in the book, yet not done well enough to catch the attention of the average reader. Sawyer is obviously a genius and he loves computers, unlike Orson Scott Card or Ray Bradbury who well tell you a sentient being has become aware on the Net or in the Telephone Lines, Sawyer takes you through the process of how. A long drawn out process that you lose interest in after several chapters. Perhaps if it was not so important to have the old Sci-Fi Trilogy, he could have put all this in one book and made it a lot more interesting and not drawn everything out so much.
I still say Sawyer has not written a bad novel, although this is the worst of the seven novels of his I have read. I loved Flash Forward and Calculating God and liked all the others. I am looking forward to Illegal Alien and Factoring Humanity, which I have in my library, but I will stay away from this trilogy, until there are no other Sawyer books to be read.
The production and narrators are excellent, the whole audio is well done.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
Overall I found this novel quite weak. While the narration was excellent, the characterization of the main protagonist seemed simplistic and bland. I found the story itself slow moving and mostly uninteresting. There have been many very good stories involving emergent computer based intelligence and there is little that is both new and worth reading in Wake. The novel had virtually no action at all, and almost no fresh concepts are presented.
Although I have no problem with the possibility of web based artificial intelligence, I found the science in Wake annoyingly weak. There was a little mathematics that was not complete hogwash, but the rest of the story was pretty silly. I won’t be reading the rest of the series.
This might be more appropriate for a young teen reader, but I wouldn’t have recommended Wake to any young reader with any interest in science. The best thing I can say for the novel, other than the narration, is having a blind female being mathematically inclined would be good for some young female readers.
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