WWW: Wake – Robert J. Sawyer

Wake - Robert J. SawyerBut can they make a TV show?

Stars: Three and three quarters out of five.

Review format: Brief review plus links.  Summary: Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math — and blind. Still, she can surf the net with the best of them, following its complex paths clearly in her mind.When a Japanese researcher develops a new signal-processing implant that might give her sight, she jumps at the chance, flying to Tokyo for the operation.But Caitlin’s brain long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her navigate online. Once the implant is activated, instead of seeing reality, the landscape of the World Wide Web explodes into her consciousness, spreading out all around her in a riot of colors and shapes. While exploring this amazing realm, she discovers something — some other — lurking in the background. And it’s getting smarter …(quoted from the author’s website) Provenance: Borrowed from the local library in e-book form.

Fun, fast read. I was reminded of Brin’s Earth, and of the birth of the Countermeasure at the beginning of Vinge’s A Fire upon the Deep.

I think my kids will really enjoy this.  Over the years, I have read so many ‘rise of an AI’ books that it was immediately clear what was going on.  So, in reading it, I had to look for the divergences from what I exactly expected.

The only microscopic hold-back from four stars is the occasional nagging feeling that … if only the writing were more lyrical, the result could be awesome.  Don’t get me wrong – I blitzed through this with a lot of enjoyment. I am just not sure that there’s meat on the plot-skeleton to make a second meal of it.

 Linkage Stuff and a few Quibbles below

Links and other reviews   (added by me, not generated)

  • The author’s page for the novel.
  • SFsignal – 4 of 5 stars. “After a long-delayed explanation, the book lives up to its potential and delivers.”
  • Enthusiastic YA review. Rhapsody likes this sequence: “Bashira said, ‘He’s hot.’  ‘He’s an asshole,’ Caitlin replied.  ‘Yeah,’ agreed Bashira, ‘but he’s a hunky asshole.’  Caitlin shook her head. How seeing more could make people see less was beyond her.”
  • Little Red Reviewer “I’ll give Sawyer one thing, he knows how to grab you with some good opening chapters. He excels at moving the plot along and keeping readers interested. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have zipped through the first 200 pages ofhttp://www.Wake in one day!…. Caitlin is a great character, and I enjoyed what she went through, but I was always looking for a little more depth, a little more drama, a little more intensity. Once I realized the intended audience is young adult, I was able to forgive Sawyer for simplifying things down.”
  • The rest of the series: Yeah, and then I quickly read Sawyer’s Watch, and Wonder – finishing out the trilogy.  I liked the middle book the best. I found the ending of the trilogy a little overindulgent; but, my twelve-year-old thought that ending was incredibly effective.


  • Phantom and the japanese doctor seem too good and simple to be true.
  • Really- would YOU let someone set up a software device as direct input to your brain? Hold down the power button for five seconds to reboot? Don’t worry, we can upload hot-fixes?  Shudder.  If you’ve seen software being made, you wouldn’t want it in your head.
  • Tangentially – with this years ‘furor’ over Booth Babes at CES – is it really fair to our feisty young heroine that the second adjective Sawyer uses to describe her in his synopsis is (go check, I will wait…) pretty?  Perhaps it’s intended to be ironic that the two most important items are last – genius, and blind, but sheesh.  Anyhow, he forgot to mention that she’s a Yankee (Texan not really a Yankee I know) in Canada.

Things I liked (including some spoilers)

  • The world is fun.
  • Caitlin’s voice is youthful without #facepalm naiveté.
  • The pacing is excellent.


Shall I link to your review? Let me know in a comment or contact, and I can add the link here.

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  1. #1 by Susan Bennett on January 17, 2012 - 11:16 pm

    Absolutely love the cover.

    • #2 by Sandy M. on January 20, 2012 - 9:43 am

      It’s a gorgeous cover, I agree.

  2. #3 by Leslie on January 22, 2012 - 2:02 am

    I read this a few years ago but remember liking most of it. I wasn’t thrilled with it the way I was with some of Sawyer’s other books but couldn’t put a finger on exactly what it was that bothered me. Maybe a bit more lyrical writing would have helped. I thought the second book in the series, WWW:Watch, was even better. And now I see the third book is out.

  3. #4 by Redhead on May 14, 2012 - 6:02 pm

    wow, I’d totally forgotten I’d reviewed that! I’ve read a small handful of Sawyer, and while I nearly always enjoy myself, like Leslie, there’s often something bothersome that I can’t put my finger on. and I think I may have finally figured it out – he gets too heavy handed for my taste.

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