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When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
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When She Woke (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Hillary Jordan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1611356,993 (3.74)126
Member:jcmontgomery
Title:When She Woke
Authors:Hillary Jordan
Info:Algonquin Books (2011), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:Young Adult Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

Work details

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (2011)

  1. 160
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (Anonymous user, BeckyJG, bookworm12, sparemethecensor)
    sparemethecensor: The Handmaid's Tale is the classic forerunner to dystopic fiction of sexist futures. When She Woke picks up the mantel with a more modern version of a misogynistic theocracy taking over government. Both show terrifying futures for the state of women in society.… (more)
  2. 100
    The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: WHEN SHE WOKE is a modern retelling of the classic.
  3. 30
    Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler (ellbeecee)
    ellbeecee: Near-future dystopian fiction that makes you consider what's going on and the various paths that could be taken.
  4. 20
    Bumped by Megan McCafferty (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: It's YA, but the fertility issues are similar in both novels.
  5. 10
    Archetype by M. D. Waters (4leschats)
    4leschats: Similar themes of gender/reproduction in the future.
  6. 00
    The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons (4leschats)
    4leschats: Similar themes of marked criminals/lower elements and female fertility
  7. 00
    Into the Forest by Jean Hegland (sturlington)
  8. 11
    Christian Nation: A Novel by Frederic C. Rich (4leschats)
    4leschats: Similar theme of a post-evangelical government takeover and its ramifications on civil liberties
  9. 00
    The Misconceiver : A Novel by Lucy Ferriss (bhowell)
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» See also 126 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 135 (next | show all)
I saw Jordan speak at a very, very small reading at my local library (literally 12 people including me and the two librarians) and I was impressed. Not only by the novel's premise, but by Jordan herself. Although I didn't get the nerve to talk to her (I hadn't read the novel yet, it had only been out for a few days at this point) and I've been kicking myself ever since.

The horrifying - and all too plausible - future in this novel was intriguing, and Jordan backed up a great idea with perfect prose and a completely readable style. Of course, I totally predicted the ending a few times, but I was happily wrong. I would gladly revisit Hannah and her life in another novel, but I have a feeling Jordan has moved on to bigger and more brilliant things. ( )
  imahorcrux | Jun 22, 2016 |
This was the inaugural selection for my book club, and all in all it was a great read. I'm a relative novice when it comes to book clubs, and this is the first one that I've ever started. We threw a bunch of books into a hat, and this was the randomly selected choice.

Just reading the book blurb had me intrigued by the story. "When She Woke" is an obvious dystopian bastardization of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter." While I'm familiar with the books premise, I have not read it. It is on my "Bucket List"of books to read.

I bought the book the very next day, and I eagerly began reading it as soon as I got home. I found my excitement quickly turning to dismay, and then anger as I read. So many political hot button issues within so few pages. After a while I honestly wasn't sure what I was feeling anymore.

I probably read the first quarter of it within a few hours, but while I was interested in the story, I found that it was getting a little slow. Slow enough that I found myself putting it down more and more, and each break became longer and longer. Eventually, I did not pick it up again. Next thing you know, the next club meeting was around the corner. I forced myself to pick it up again, and was ready to use the "how to get through a difficult read formula" to get it finished in time for the discussion. I gamely plugged on for another chapter or two, and like someone cast a spell, I was suddenly hooked again. The plot and pace of the book picked up, and began speeding towards it unpredictable ending.

At times I found myself just kind of stunned by a certain turn in the story, and I was saddened when I reached the last page. Like many stories, I truly want to know what comes next. I would have given the book a good rating if no other reason than my reaction to it. I have to admire anything that causes the gamut of emotions that this book did within me. Based on this alone, I would be predisposed to reading another title from Hillary Jordan. In fact I find myself eager to do so.

I find myself eager for the upcoming discussion about this book. I'm also looking forward to whatever our book club chooses for its next selection. If it's even half as good as this was I'll be satisfied. ( )
  BethMcV69 | Jun 17, 2016 |
I reread this for book club, and three years later, I've given it a higher rating. I guess I can't help comparing it to Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, which for me was brilliant, as is everything she writes, But rereading this story, I appreciated the how well the storyline held together, and how believable was the notion of using skin color to brand "criminals" to avoid the expense of incarceration. I think our heroine, Hannah Payne, is a surprisingly strong person, given who she was at the beginning of the story, a gently educated, very sheltered seamstress from an evangelical religious background. The first surprising thing is how such a meek woman can have the strength to keep the name of her famous lover a secret, even though it makes her a pariah. After she is Chromed bright red, she slowly finds strength, first by escaping a sadistic "half-way" home for wayward women who've had abortions, then by joining with freedom-fighters and escaping her situation to find freedom elsewhere. It's a solid story, not quite "un-put-downable" for me, but very good. ( )
  fromthecomfychair | May 3, 2016 |
Angelica
  RickK | Apr 23, 2016 |
This modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter was a real page turner. The concept was good: in a near future, the US government has for more control over the individual in very believable and creepy ways, echoing the Puritan town where Hester Prynne lived. Values of the sort the Puritans adhered to and currently espoused by the Christian right predominate up to the highest levels of government. There is even a sort of Secretary for Religion at the cabinet level. Oh, and instead of a long sentence in prison, criminals are injected with a virus that dyes their skin a color depending on their crime. Red dye is for murder. Criminals must get a booster injection every few months until their sentence is up, or they will suffer complete mental breakdown known a fragging. This keeps most from running away to Canada, which seems to be a far more liberal place.

Hannah has a secret, passionate love affair with her charismatic pastor and gets pregnant by him. She feels her only choice is to abort the child. Abortion is almost universally illegal in the United States including in Texas, where she lives, but she finds a doctor and manages to get one. She is caught almost immediately, and sentenced to be injected with red dye and remain red for 16 years, her "scarlet letter," so to speak.

How she deals with this and tries to escape her fate is very suspenseful, but I gave the book only three stars. I felt the ending tied things up in a way that was a bit too pat, and also diverged from Hawthorne's book on a critical point. Still, it will keep your attention for a few hours on a grey afternoon. Recommended, with reservations. ( )
  seschanfield | Mar 7, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 135 (next | show all)
These early scenes, in which Hannah wakes up in the Chrome ward where she’s been sentenced to remain for 30 days, are promisingly inventive. ... Lacking the satiric sting of “1984″ and “A Clockwork Orange,” the pathos of “Super Sad True Love Story” and “The Book of Dave,” or the kind of newfangled vocabulary each of these works used to describe their worlds, Jordan’s dystopia turns out to depict a much smaller future than its bold opening chapters, with their clever homage to Hawthorne, had so valiantly attempted to guarantee.
added by lquilter | editSalon.com, Donna Rifkind (Oct 10, 2011)
 

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Hillary Jordanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Corrigan, HeatherNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
“Truly, friend, and methinks it must gladden your heart, after your troubles and sojourn in the wilderness,” said the townsman, “to find yourself, at length, in a land where iniquity is searched out, and punished in the sight of rulers and people.”  —NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE, The Scarlet Letter
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This book is for my father
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When she woke, she was red.
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Book description
Hannah Payne awakens to a nightmare. She is lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, with cameras broadcasting her every move to millions at home. She is now a convicted criminal, and her skin color has been genetically altered. Her crime, according to the State of Texas: the murder of her unborn child, whose father she refuses to name. Her color: red. The color of newly shed blood.

In Hannah's America, sometime in the future, faith, love, and sexuality have fallen prey to politics. Convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated, but "chromed", forced to appear in a new and sinister form of reality TV, and released back into the population. Stigmatized in a hostile world, they must survive the best they can.

Until her arrest, Hannah had devoted her life to church and family. In seeking a path to safety, she is forced to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes the personal.

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In the future, abortion has become a crime as a series of events threatens the existence of the United States. One woman wakes up to discover that her skin color has been changed to red as punishment for having the procedure done. Now she must embark on a dangerous journey in order to find refuge from a hostile and threatening society.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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