Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith
Publishing Company: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: Young Adult—Contemporary, ROmance
Pages: 400
Release Date: May 28, 2013

Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:

1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:

1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy.
A copy was provided for review purposes

*Note that all quotes were taken from the advanced copy and could differ in the finished copy*

Never in my life have I been this infuriated with a character, a story, a plot. Never in my life have I been this confused with everything that was going on. Never in my life have I wanted this much not to see a turtle ever again in my entire life.

The first and foremost thing I noticed was the lack of a plot. This is actually a big deal for me. The plot is the thing that can make or break a story for me, and sometimes when a book breaks it but I'm not sure  what broke it, I'll blame it on the plot, because, for me, everything circles back to the plot. But in this case, I'm not just lumping a bunch of complaints into one category. There was so much that Hilary tried to make happen, but it was all insignificant and trivial. We have a romance, the grieving of a death, and a music career; even with all of that, nothing happened. Like, at all. Kiri spent all of the first chapter grieving and the rest was just a bunch of practicing, Kiri going insane, and some other filler material. We could have had a promising plot, if it had been executed properly, because there was so much promise. Otherwise, everything Kiri did just seemed like a huge joke to me.

Kiri herself was a whole other topic that deserves pages and pages and pages of detailed description on how much I found wrong with her, but the main issue was her inconsistent character. She smoked so many joints of weed, and she repeatedly said, "B*tch" to random people for no real reason at all. But, on the other hand, she played Bach and Chopin and Beethoven for fun. Even if Kiri was supposed to be a multi-faceted character, after she cursed three different times—shit, crap, and damnit—in one single page when she got hurt, I stopped believing her to be a compelling character. I could see her being this deep character, but every time she tried to be a tough rebel, it came off as so forced and cheesy. It was absolutely painful to watch Kiri go through life like this.

Furthermore, Kiri behaved like a complete nine-year-old who wanted to show off to everyone how utterly cool she was.

For example, when she saw her crush and long-time best friend Lukas talking to another girl, this is exactly what she thought:
Bitch, don't exchange a look with my future boyfriend!
Are you kidding me? She sounds like possessive, obsessed, nine-year-old fan of One Direction who's so certain that she's going to marry one of them when she grows up. I interpreted it as a desperate attempt to make Kiri sound like a tough person, with the cursing, but it made her sound whiny and immature. She flipped people off for no reason at all, cursed for no reason because it must've made her "cool," and she had little-girl thoughts, too. She literally was like, "OMG, my private lady parts are tingling because we had one kiss, and he put his hand ON MY LEG, and I touched his earlobe." And then she called it, and I quote, and "erotic trifecta." She went on to say that she still thought about it all the time. Not that I've ever been kissed or know the first thing about kissing, but I've never seen a sixteen-year-old rant this much about a kiss in that cheesy way. It wouldn't have bothered me as much if Kiri didn't later run outside NAKED in the rain with another guy. She never brought it up ever again. And when her relationship with said guy got really serious, she didn't fantasize about the things that they did together, or refer to them as an "erotic trifecta." Overall, Kiri was so inconsistent.

The last thing that grated on my nerves was the writing style. It's overly ornate, which is where I must've gotten the impression that nothing happened in the plot. I started noticing an odd amount of similes using the word "like" as the comparison word around halfway through, and started highlighting every single simile that I saw using the word "like." There were seventy five, possibly more, in the last thirty-five percent of Wild Awake. I couldn't understand why there were so many and somebody didn't catch it. Maybe it's not that big of a deal, but it got so repetitive after a while, and using "like" as your comparison word every single time doesn't work very well if you look closely. Seventy-five is a lot of similes, that could amass to almost five chapters or so, depending on the length of all the similes. That's five chapters, used up with "like an alligator" or "like a newborn horse trying to stand up again" similes. (The above similes were fabricated by me and not in the actual book, but they follow the basic gist of what similes were used.) It got so repetitive, and it unnecessarily elaborate, which just slowed down the plot.

Please don't make me talk about that ending. It was all over the place and so confusing that even if you reread it over five times, I don't quite know if you could understand it. Maybe that's just me, but so much of Wild Awake confused me. It dealt with a lot of tough subjects, but with all of the things wrong, as soon as you learned about the insanity hidden deep in the story, you couldn't take it seriously. With Kiri as a main character, as someone who underwent so many tough things, you can't sympathize with her because you spent so much of the story before wanting to slap her.

A huge disappointment, Wild Awake left me understanding what Hilary T. Smith was endeavoring to accomplish with her story, but overall I felt that it fell flat and it didn't work at all. I couldn't find anything about Wild Awake to redeem itself.


  1. Aw, I'm sorry you were not able to enjoy anything about this book. I completely understand the simile issue, I don't mind writing similes (I love reading them) but using the same technique can be tiring.

    Wonderful critical review Eileen!

  2. It sucks that you didn't like this. I am still reading it...dude, I've been reading it for days. (In my defense I had a baby shower and engagement party that I went to, and then didn't feel well. That was three days of lost reading really) I'm not sure what I think about it yet. I am kind of just taking it as I go and not over thinking anything. It's not bad for me, but Kiri is bat shit crazy. Fabulous, honest review chick!

  3. Dang, this is what I'm reading next. I think that everything that drove you nuts about this book would make me feel the same way, but I guess I'll just have to see? Great review!

  4. I don’t think I’ve seen a good review on this yet, not even a so-so 3 star review. Luckily I don’t think this was on my TBR pile. You should start reading some YA indies, sounds like big pubs books have been letting you down lately…

  5. Aw, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this book, Eileen. I'm happy to see that you were honest about your feelings. I haven't read it, but the things you mentioned would probably irk me too.

  6. Dang! There have been SO many mixed reviews for this book, I'm honestly just curious to pick it up. I don't agree with you that plot makes/breaks a book, but it does seem like the plot literally went nowhere. I hate it when authors have a bunch of ideas floating around but don't STRING them together to connect! Kiri doesn't really seem like a character I would like.. Cussing is a turn off for me! LOL the similes.. -__- I might still check it out out of curiosity, but thanks for the honest review, Eileen!

  7. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your review! I agree with everything you said. I literally just don't get this book. I finished and I was like "That's it? That's the story?" I just didn't get it. Where was the plot? What was the overall conflict? No idea!!

    I just have no idea what happened with this book. I thought the whole book was going to be the mystery around her sister's death and going all Nancy Drew or something.... but it wasn't AT ALL.

  8. So I guess this is a love or hate it book. The synopsis sounds okay, but it's a shame the main character was over obsessive. *sigh*

    Such a shame you were one of the people who didn't like it, great review though! <33

  9. Yikes. With the yo-yo reviews I'm curious, but after yours and Ashley's reviews, I'm not sure I want to touch this book with a 10 foot pole. If, IF I ever read it, it shall be in the very far future. IF.
    ....Erotic trifecta, lmao!!! Wow. And the likes would really tick me off...Monument 14 was like that and after a couple chapters I was so distracted by counting all the likes that I couldn't even pay attention to the story anymore. And like you, I need a plot. If nothing happens and I can't even tell someone what the book is about if they ask....yeah. That's pointless. Great review, Leeny!!

  10. Oh man, I'm afraid you didn't like the book. I did read several other - rather positive - reviews on it, but all of them stated it probably wasn't for everyone. I get what you didn't like about the book and, honestly, I'm pretty sure I won't like it, either, but somehow it sounds so interesting, I guess I'll read it anyway. I agree with Jen that too many ideas without a real structure can make a book feel like a big mess without anything stable - and like Jen, I'm still totally curious to see what the book is about :)


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