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Old 12-21-2012, 05:47 AM   #1
Procrastinista
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For Those Who Read WHEN SHE WOKE [by Hillary Jordan]

After a brilliant beginning, the story launches into a lot of backstory, which is necessary to explain why Hannah is being punished as a red. But the backstory also includes quite a bit on Cole, Becca's husband. Maybe as much as twenty pages. Obviously, this was to set up Hannah running to Becca's place once Hannah left the Straight Path Center.

Hillary Jordan could've provided this backstory while Hannah was en route to Becca's, but instead she included the backstory much earlier on. Why do you think she did this? My guess is that if Jordan had provided the backstory while Hannah was en route, the story would've felt less real. That the Jordan was making up something to create tension on the fly.

But Jordan paid a price. I got really bored hearing about Cole so early on in the story and for so many pages. I almost stopped reading.

So, why did you think Jordan made the choice she did, and do you think it was a wise one?
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Old 12-21-2012, 05:58 AM   #2
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I'm lost. Is this a book you're reading and you want to start a discussion? If so, I think you might be in the wrong forum. Down younger at the front page is a book discussion forum.
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Old 12-26-2012, 01:26 PM   #3
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I think that what you point out is the least of this book's problems. Since the info on Cole comes early on, the reader won't mind so much since the society that is revealed is fascinating - plus the early chapters are really well written. Also, Jordan needed to set up Cole as a bad guy early on to make us understand, subconsciously at least, that there will be little help received from Becca and the family.

There were so many things with the plot that went the wrong way in this book... I caught myself thinking 'no no no, where is her editor?' on several occasions. Hopefully her next novel will be more like 'Mudbound', which was one of my favorite reads this year.
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Old 12-28-2012, 06:47 PM   #4
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I think that what you point out is the least of this book's problems. Since the info on Cole comes early on, the reader won't mind so much since the society that is revealed is fascinating - plus the early chapters are really well written. Also, Jordan needed to set up Cole as a bad guy early on to make us understand, subconsciously at least, that there will be little help received from Becca and the family.

There were so many things with the plot that went the wrong way in this book... I caught myself thinking 'no no no, where is her editor?' on several occasions. Hopefully her next novel will be more like 'Mudbound', which was one of my favorite reads this year.
That makes sense. I'm curious, what were the things with the plot that you think went the wrong way?
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Old 12-28-2012, 09:16 PM   #5
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That makes sense. I'm curious, what were the things with the plot that you think went the wrong way?
The book was basically fabulous until about half-way through. (I don't have the copy here, so can't check more specifically)
But from what I remember, I was not too happy about:

- the lesbian twist, which seemed forced and weird. Hannah had all the wrong views on homosexuality, but then she had to be attracted to and have sex with another woman (while being on the run and in grave danger) to realize this? It seemed rather out of character.
- early on she came across as a character who was opposed to much of her society's views on things, while later she lost her nerve and became subservient. I realize it was probably easier to be critical while she was inside that society, but her change was strange.
- when they were betrayed, everything about the betrayer screamed 'run' from the very start, and Hannah clearly picked up on it and yet did nothing. The other Hannah would have.
- romantic sub-plot between two other characters - Hannah's friend and one of the helpers. Flat and construed. And then he went off to rescue her after she was kidnapped (and, I thought, probably killed off quickly in accordance with the kidnappers' brutality) and we hear that he succeeded...Unnecessary subplot!
- too much action towards the end. Last 100 or so pages? A rush of all sorts of things happening at a pace so fast it seemed unreal.
- Hannah is unresolved about her 'crime'.

All that being said, there were many things I really liked here. The whole melachroming idea, the way religion ruled society and how women were subjugated.
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:46 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellaroni View Post
The book was basically fabulous until about half-way through. (I don't have the copy here, so can't check more specifically)
But from what I remember, I was not too happy about:

- the lesbian twist, which seemed forced and weird. Hannah had all the wrong views on homosexuality, but then she had to be attracted to and have sex with another woman (while being on the run and in grave danger) to realize this? It seemed rather out of character.
- early on she came across as a character who was opposed to much of her society's views on things, while later she lost her nerve and became subservient. I realize it was probably easier to be critical while she was inside that society, but her change was strange.
- when they were betrayed, everything about the betrayer screamed 'run' from the very start, and Hannah clearly picked up on it and yet did nothing. The other Hannah would have.
- romantic sub-plot between two other characters - Hannah's friend and one of the helpers. Flat and construed. And then he went off to rescue her after she was kidnapped (and, I thought, probably killed off quickly in accordance with the kidnappers' brutality) and we hear that he succeeded...Unnecessary subplot!
- too much action towards the end. Last 100 or so pages? A rush of all sorts of things happening at a pace so fast it seemed unreal.
- Hannah is unresolved about her 'crime'.

All that being said, there were many things I really liked here. The whole melachroming idea, the way religion ruled society and how women were subjugated.
A lot of great points here, some of which hadn't occurred to me, but once you mention them, they do stand out as flaws.

One of things that bugged me was how passive she was, only finally doing something of her own accord right near the end. Also, the author threw in a bunch of statements near the end about much Hannah had changed, but I don't think she changed much at all.

Despite these flaws I still the writing overall was quite good. I was pretty much in line with Hannah's feelings throughout.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:12 AM   #7
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The first three or so chapters were beautifully written. They were tight and clean and pacey, and I loved them.

Then the book changed tone completely. It became little more than an accounting of almost random events, the characters were suddenly flat and dull, and they did things which were completely unbelievable.

When I read the book it seemed to me as though two different people had written it, the differences were so marked.

I have to wonder how much editing it got, and by whom; and if the author workshopped the beginning of it, but ran out of time to tighten up the remainder.

It started off as a great book; it ended as a really poor one. I was hugely disappointed by it.
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Old 03-16-2013, 04:45 AM   #8
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I really would like to read this book. Given the anti-abortion movement in America gaining momentum, and the laws passed in North Dakota and Arkansas, I feel like this country is headed to a sort of dystopia. Maybe not, but is scary to see what is happening. I hope to read When She Woke to see Hillary Jordan's take on anti-abortion, but if it is that poorly written, maybe I shouldn't read it - which is disappointing.
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Old 03-16-2013, 11:38 PM   #9
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I really would like to read this book. Given the anti-abortion movement in America gaining momentum, and the laws passed in North Dakota and Arkansas, I feel like this country is headed to a sort of dystopia. Maybe not, but is scary to see what is happening. I hope to read When She Woke to see Hillary Jordan's take on anti-abortion, but if it is that poorly written, maybe I shouldn't read it - which is disappointing.
The anti-abortion society portrayed in this book is frightening, and in itself a good reason to read it. This book has many flaws, but this particular aspect of it is all too believable, I'm afraid.
So yes, you should read it.
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Old 03-24-2013, 02:36 AM   #10
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In that case, I'll give it a shot and see if I could finish it or not.
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Old 07-04-2013, 01:28 AM   #11
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So I finished this book. I am going to echo many readers of this book sentiments about how it started off very well, but became flat and bland towards the end.

I agree the lesbian part made no sense, and did seem very forced. The minute Hannah and Kayla were given nice, dressy outfits at Stanton's home was an immediate red light, and I'm confused as to why both girls didn't even ask one question about that. They eventually did, but that was much later. And why was Kayla so overly optimistic at that point? Yeah, she always was, but it seemed fake at that point.

I did like Hannah and Aidan's closure. Sad as it was, and a bit unrealistic, it was nice for them have closure. But I think what happened to Aidan afterward was unnecessary to the plot.

This book is worth reading, though. As I mentioned earlier here, what's going in this country with the anti-abortion movement is frightening. Look at what happened in Texas and Ohio. It's like radical irrationality had gripped the country. Reading this book is like showing solidarity with the pro-choice side. Too bad this book wasn't written that well or else it would've been a book that truly reflected the times. It does, but because it is not that good, it misses that chance.
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