AwakenAwaken by Katie Kacvinsky

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Seventeen year-old Maddie is popular; she has thousands of friends. The problem is, when she goes to book club, or to a movie, or shopping, she’s actually alone in her room, looking at digitally projected images on the wall screens. When it’s time for school, she attends DS, or digital school, a brainchild of a dictatorial former high-school principal tired of dealing with school shootings and violent epsiodes and who also happens to be Maddie’s father.

The premise of this book feels all too real, and the explanation about climbing violence and escalating fear in the world was all too accurate. I can easily see how a society could be lured into feeling “safe” when they never have to leave their homes. I already prefer shopping online, especially at Christmastime – who needs to fight crowds when you can compare prices in tabs of your browser and only spend as much on shipping as you would on gas getting to the mall anyway? People all over the globe go to college online, and increasing numbers of high school students are taking classes online as well. We are headed in the direction of a digital world. But when we’re all so plugged in, are we really disconnecting from one another?

There was a lady behind me at No Frills last night as we checked out our groceries, and she spent her entire time in the line chatting on her cell phone. When it came time for her to pay – we were still bagging her cgroceries – she didn’t have enough for her bottle of Tums, her only purchase. I would have paid for them for her, I later told my husband, if I had felt any kind of human connection to her, but because she was talking on her cell the entire time, all I felt was irritation. A loss for us both, maybe. And the way the author and I both see the world as a whole drifting.

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