Saturday, May 25, 2013

Review: Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (Imprint of HarperCollins)
  • Publication date: 5/28/2013
  • Source: eARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss for review
Purchase: Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository

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.

My Thoughts

I love contemporary books. Especially ones where things all seem to go wrong. I think my mistake going into this one was thinking it was going to be similar to Ten Things We Did (That We Probably Shouldn't Have) because it was nothing like that. I have been thinking about how to write this review actually because I honestly didn't know how I felt about it at all upon finishing. I still really don't, but after thinking about it, I didn't hate it. I just left me not feeling anything. Not much happened and the characters were all out of their minds in my opinion. Not just the ones that are supposed to have mental illness. My brain was starting to hurt after a while and I was questioning my own sanity at points. I don't think that I really liked a single character in this whole book, but somehow, I still liked it... I think.

Kiri is the main character of the story and I honestly couldn't decide what to think about her. She is absolutely, out of her tree crazysauce! At first she just seems a little rebellious and perhaps made a stupid decision or two, but then she keeps making them. For instance, why would you go to some random stranger's house at night in the most horrible neighborhood ever? Yup, she does that... a lot.Okay, so after the first few times she actually kind of knows him, but still. Then, she's supposedly this amazing piano player, but she starts spending all her time running around, doing drugs, and just generally acting positively insane. Then she gets upset when her piano instructor calls her out on her lack of focus! And OMG she gets all excited that her and Lukas kissed and she touched his earlobe (which is mentioned more than once in the book) and it's like the most sensual thing in the world to her, but then she makes out with another boy for hours and runs around naked with him and never talks about that being sensual, or erotic, or whatever. Then, she's horrible to her parents, which really, they kind of fail in the parents of the year department, but still. Anyways, it seems like before her parents went away on vacation she was a pretty good kid, and now all of the sudden she just flips and is out of her mind? I don't know. She was a difficult character's head to be in. I felt like I needed some meds after reading this.

Onto the romance. So she's like totally pining for her bandmate Lukas, but he doesn't like her. He's a total freaking tool anyways, so I don't even get what she sees in him. The real romance is some random guy who she meets in the shit part of town that she had gone to to get her sisters things. Umm kind of weird right. And then, she's in love with him after two days too. *cue eye roll* He was nice and all, but it was obvious there was something not right with him too. They sit around, drink tea, frolic around naked, and read some spiritual book together. They know almost nothing about each other, but yet, they are in love. They even have sweet nicknames for each other. Crazy Girl and Bicycle Boy. How sweet right?! *gag*

There are other characters of course. Her neighbor and band mate, Lukas. He wasn't very likable at all. It's like he could care less that Kiri was around unless it's convenient for him. And her parents. From what we kind of learn, they are more worried about what they want then what Kiri wants. They kind of seem to blow off her feelings or what she might want. Though, I'm not sure if they are really that way, or if we just see it that way through her crazy head. The worst was her brother. He was not only a jerk, but he was violent and I couldn't stand him. I don't care how infuriating Kiri was, he smashes her things and practically throws her off of her piano bench. I wanted to punch him.

So there's not much of a story here except Kiri unraveling and going crazy years after her sister died. She is competing in Battle of the Bands, she meets the love of her life, and she finds out his deep dark secret. The thing is, even with nothing happening, and me feeling like I was slowly losing my mind along with Kiri, I think I did enjoy this. I think it's really saying something when I just can't wrap my head around my thoughts. I only wish that the mental illness had been addressed a little better, but it was an intriguing book that I couldn't stop reading, even when I couldn't stand the characters. Overall I did like it.

*An advanced copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation.


  1. OMG YES! The earlobe thing drove me crazy! She was like ranting about her erotic experience, and then she's like running around naked in the rain with this other guy and she's like, "Well so THAT happened."

    I'm glad you enjoyed this one a little better than I did, but I totally agree with everything you said, especially the romance and Lukas! Fantastic review, Amy!

    1. I could have let the whole earlobe thing slide, except she brings it up again after she has run around naked with another guy! It's like, really, that's more interesting and sexual than being naked? And OMG why did she even like Lukas in the first place? He was such a jerk!! Also, what was with the whole thing when she ended up under the piano passed out? You know what I'm talking about! Total crazy!!

  2. I'm not sure this is one I'll like. Her stupid decisions would likely have me DNF'ing it cause that just drives me nuts! I'm glad you at least didn't hate the book, that some things did work for you.

    1. The thing is, her stupid decisions were frustrating, but she's so insane that it's interesting at the same time. You're like "Why?!! You are stupid!", but I couldn't make myself stop reading.

  3. This is so far from what I thought this book was about. It kind of sounds ridiculous and I'm so glad I WON'T be reading it, thanks for the honest review, and saving me from wasting my time!

    1. I did still like it, but it was nothing like I was thinking it would be.

  4. I have heard such wildly varying things about this book...I now have no idea how I'll feel about it, but I am at least interested enough to try it!

    1. Definitely try it. I know my review sounds negative, but I really did like it. I just can't really put into words the craziness going on in my head while reading it. I don't know. I have never felt so undecided about a book before. Lol!!

  5. Aw man, the publisher sent me a copy of WA this week and I was excited. I don't mind books about teens that make bad choices, I was a stupid teen myself. But when everything feels so random and they don't seem to learn, that makes me crazy!
    If I do read this, I'll drink. Great review !

    1. It's not a bad book. Things are very random, but it makes sense to her crazy brain if you know what I mean. It totally made my brain go numb trying to be in her head.

  6. I definitely want to try this. I love books that are completely different and I like the fact that that you're inside her head. Then again, if it's total stream-of-consciousness I might not love it. I tried to read Dubliners by James Joyce about ten times, and just couldn't do it.

    You can find me here: Jen @ YA Romantics

  7. It does kinda have that 10 things vive from the description. Too bad it wasn't much story there. Think I'll pass on it.

  8. I think the cover is really cool. The MC does sound very interesting and unique and I can see why you had a hard time figuring her out.

    Thanks for sharing! Great review!

  9. Yup, felt that same way. Crazy but interesting at the same time. Nice review :)

  10. oh boy this sounds a but disappointing!! and what's up with the romance? I'm gonna read this one soon, but I am just not as excited as I was. thanks for your honest review!
    - Farah @MajiBookshelf

  11. This sounds a little like Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have) by Sarah Mlynowski. I think I rated that 3. LOL Thanks for the review!


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