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When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

When She Woke (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Hillary Jordan

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,1281347,270 (3.73)126
Title:When She Woke
Authors:Hillary Jordan
Info:Turtleback Books (2012), Library Binding, 354 pages
Collections:Your library

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 133 (next | show all)
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 |
  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 |
A slightly futuristic dystopic twist on [b:The Scarlet Letter|12296|The Scarlet Letter|Nathaniel Hawthorne|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1327879100s/12296.jpg|4925227]. The ending felt a little unsatisfying, but this is overall a gripping tale. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
12/22/13 ( )
  magerber | Feb 22, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 133 (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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“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
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)

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