Rated Reads

When She Woke

by Hillary Jordan

Rated: High

Hannah did a bad thing. A thing so bad that she is now consigned to life as a Chrome: a person who has committed a crime and the color of her skin is changed to alert the public to her crime.

Hannah is red.

If you have read Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, the gist of this novel will feel familiar to you, although, of course, many liberties are taken. Hannah’s society feeds off of a religious fervor that has little mercy and no tolerance for those who do not live up to the moral standards the government has imposed. With virtually no one to turn to and only the memory of the man she loved to hold on to, Hannah has to grow up quickly in a harsh world that her insulating and God-fearing parents did not prepare her for.

I liked this and I sort of didn’t. Because I am a huge fan of The Scarlet Letter, some of the plot annoyed me, only because I wanted something else to happen. Somehow I got the impression that this was a young adult novel, but I would say that it is not. Hannah’s affair and her coming to terms with herself as a sexual person are definitely part of her late coming of age, and, truthfully, I got annoyed with the book when it turned in that direction, right near the end.

I was intrigued by the fanaticism and Hannah’s internal struggle to sort through what kind of God she believed in. It’s certainly a credible-enough possible future with a plot that that did keep my interest, for the most part.

Rated: High for five-plus uses of strong language, 15-plus uses of moderate language and lots of mild language. There are graphic descriptions of abortion and several sexual scenes, one involving two women.

— Reviewed by Corinne Edwards

Corinne Edwards is always happiest when a book is in her hand. If her current read needs to be closed for a short time, either in her backpack while she leads her three rambunctious children on adventures, or on her nightstand while she sleeps, that's okay too. Her book thoughts and reviews land at her bookish blog, The Book Nest.

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  • When She Woke
  • by Hillary Jordan
  • Rated: High
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: