Review: Wake Up, O Sleeper!

Jack Wilson’s life is marked by disappearances. First, his entire world disappeared in a moment when the bombs fell and Americans were taken to plastic-wrapped, regulated cities where they’ll be safe from radiation, poisonous air, and freedom. Ten years later, just before his nineteenth birthday, his best (and only) friend, Lori, disappeared when she was reassigned to another city and some unknown job in it.

Six months after that, Jack’s family staged a disappearance of their own, as he and his parents exited the city by stealth and never looked back. As Jack’s father had known for months, everything about the world is a lie, and escape leads to a better life.

But Jack is in love with Lori, and his obsessive need to find her eventually sends him and his father back to the city. When tragedy puts his plan into a tailspin, Jack finds himself alone, wearing a dead man’s uniform and identity card, and searching desperately for Lori before his time—four days—runs out.

With him is a long letter from his father that will reveal, with transformative power, the secrets of one’s man past, his heart, and his quest for love.

Wake Up, O Sleeper! by Jed Wright is set in the familiar dystopian landscape of Fahrenheit 451 and The Giver, though its focus on the sinfulness of the individual human heart makes it distinctly Christian. Jack struggles with faith; his father is a believer, while Jack responds to the sentiment that “Jesus loves you” with a wry, “Probably not.” Though I found it slow to get started, by the end it had become a page-turner. Its central love story is surprisingly powerful.

I was a little put off by the book’s marketing (its cover and endorsements), which push the book’s “message” more than they do its story. In this, the marketing is far more heavy-handed than the book itself. Yes, readers may take away some strong messages from this book, but it is a story first, and quite a good one. I hope we’ll see more from Jed in the future.

Recommended for adult readers.







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