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When She Woke [Hardcover]

Hillary Jordan
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 10.09 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

12 April 2012

When she woke, she was red. Not flushed, not sunburned, but the solid, declarative red of a stop sign.

An enthralling and chilling novel from the author of MUDBOUND, for fans of THE HANDMAID’S TALE and THE SCARLET LETTER.

Hannah Payne’s life has been devoted to church and family, but after her arrest, she 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, for whom observing new Chromes – criminals whose skin colour has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime – is a new and sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red; her crime is murder. The victim, according to the State of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she’s shared a fierce and forbidden love.

WHEN SHE WOKE is a fable about a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of a not-too-distant future – where the line between church and state has been eradicated and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated but chromed and released back into the population to survive as best they can. In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a path of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith.


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (12 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007461747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007461745
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 728,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hillary Jordan grew up in Texas and Oklahoma and received her MFA in fiction from Columbia University. Mudbound is her first novel.

Product Description

Review

‘Hillary Jordan channels Nathaniel Hawthorne by way of Margaret Atwood in this fast-paced, dystopian thriller. Unputdownable’
Valerie Martin, author of The Confessions of Edward Day

‘Not only one of the best books of the year, but it's everything the dystopian genre was made for . . . An instant classic for the 21st century’
Publisher’s Weekly

‘A stunning futuristic thriller … the setup in the first part of the book is excellent, very Handmaid’s Tale, the second half is a straight chase and escape tale. The whole thing is stunning.’
The Bookseller

PRAISE FOR HILLARY JORDAN:
‘Hillary Jordan writes with the force of a Delta storm’
Barbara Kingsolver

‘Jordan's tautly structured debut . . . confronts disturbing truths about America's past with a directness and a freshness of approach that recalls Alice Walker's The Color Purple.’
The Times

‘The winner of Barbara Kingsolver's Bellwether Prize for a novel 'promoting social responsibility,' Hillary Jordan is happily a writer who puts her duty to entertain first’
The Independent

About the Author

Hillary Jordan spent fifteen years working as an advertising copywriter before starting to write fiction. Her first novel, MUDBOUND, was named one of the Top Ten Debut Novels of the Decade by Paste Magazine. It won the 2006 Bellwether Prize, founded by Barbara Kingsolver and awarded biennially to an unpublished debut novel that addresses issues of social justice. Hillary grew up in Dallas, Texas and Muskogee, Oklahoma. She lives in Brooklyn.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bit Disappointing 16 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback
An interesting premise and it all starts well but by about the half way point I was thinking "Ho-hum!", as it became a bit like that old 30s/40s movie serial "The Perils of Pauline", with massive plot developments happening off scene and being brushed off in one sentence in the next chapter ("And when you were unconscious, we rescued you").

The author's vision of future America is drip-fed to us over the course of the book and comes across as very believable, and all the more scary, given that the changes described aren't enormous on a day to day scale.

The thing that struck me most about this book was how badly the male characters were portrayed - they all seemed to be either weak willed and dominated by their wives/mothers or aggressive bruisers.

On the whole I would say I enjoyed this book and can recommend it, even if I found I was skimming it to some degree towards the end.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I have to admit that this book very pleasantly surprised me. The reason for that is that from the description I expected this to be a romance driven plot with some frilly dystopian icing on top as something of a gimmick to make it stand out. Fortunately I was wrong. Despite the clear romantic strand to the plot, the dystopian element is very well thought out, and in fact this futuristic world does contain that all important element of extreme developments in society that are actually just about plausible.

The plot also moves far quicker than I expected, and this really did make we want to keep turning the pages. At no point did I feel like the book stagnated, and the pace really did help to keep an element of tension throughout. This is helped not only by the development in the main character, but also in a solid supporting cast of characters, who are all believable and distinctive.

The one problem in my view is the last fifth or so of the book, which is when the plot just seems to lose its way a little. I also expected the ending to have much more bite considering the strength of what had come before, and whilst by no means terrible it wasn't as strong as I was expecting. So it can't be the full five stars, but it is still thoroughly recommended as a fine example of the genre.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A book of two parts 7 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback
The first three or so chapters were beautifully written. They were tight and clean and pacey, and I loved them.

Then the book changed tone completely. It became little more than an accounting of almost random events, the characters were suddenly flat and dull, and they did things which were completely unbelievable. For example, the main character suddenly had a lesbian affaire, which seemed both out of character for her and extraneous to the plot: instead of adding to the tension or pace of the book, such events made me wonder what on earth was going on with it.

The difference in quality between the first few chapters and the rest of the book were so marked that it seemed to me as though two different people had written it,

I have to wonder how much editing it got, and by whom; and if the author workshopped the beginning of it, but ran out of time to tighten up the remainder.

It started off as a great book; it ended as a really poor one. I was hugely disappointed by it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Curiously old-fashioned... 20 April 2012
By FictionFan TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Billed as futuristic and dystopian, this novel in fact has a curiously old-fashioned feel. Hannah lives in a near-future America where, as a result of a sexually transmitted plague, the population has been decimated. Religious fundamentalism has taken over, women are back to being used as breeding machines and abortion is not only illegal but abhorred by mainstream society. Having been found guilty of having an abortion, Hannah has been 'chromed' - she has been given a virus that has turned her skin scarlet, echoing Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter.

Hillary Jordan writes well and on a superficial level this is a very readable book. She elicits our empathy for Hannah and we want to see how she copes in a society that despises her. But there's really not much meat in this novel. The 'future' is not so very different from our recent past and the descriptions of the society could have been written pretty much of present-day bible belt America. Jordan discusses the rights and wrongs of abortion, the role of religion and the place of women in the society but I'm afraid has nothing new or original to say on these subjects. There is an acceptance throughout the book of God as a certainty that jarred with me - the question was not whether God exists but how he should be followed. Jordan unfortunately didn't flinch from raising hoary old feminist clichés such as 'Is God a woman?', while the male characters were at best moral weaklings and at worst evil and tyrannical.

Even these criticisms, though, make the book seem more than it is. Ultimately, this is a romance novel disguised as literary fiction. Having enjoyed Jordan's previous novel Mudbound I had hoped for more. I still believe she has the potential to write a great novel - however this is not it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars When She Woke by Hillary Jordan 24 Nov 2012
By Amber
Format:Paperback
I had seen some friends rave about this book, and so I was really excited to finally get to it last month. Unfortunately, I didn't like it.

The beginning of the novel was promising. I really liked the concept of there being a world in which abortion was banned, and the main character being punished for it. Not because I agree, but because it's interesting... or, at least, it could have been. Despite my hopes, the book was just dull.

There were some really good moments sprinkled throughout, but most of the book felt like I was on a boring car journey through the desert with nothing at all to look at, not even cacti. Add to that your dad pointing out rocks that all look the same and you don't get a very good adventure. I'm not sure where I was going with that, but there it is. Boring boring boring.

The world it was set in was my favourite part about the novel. Criminals, rather than being imprisoned, get their skin dyed different colours to reflect their crimes. This is considered by most to be worse than imprisonment, due to the rest of the citizens treatment of the criminals. They become victims. I do wonder, though, what would happen if someone committed two crimes. I'd assume that if one was something like murder and the other was a petty crime then they'd be marked for murder, but what if the two crimes were as bad as each other?

There is a random lesbian love scene which I would have ADORED it if it had been developed more, but instead it felt as though it had just been thrown in. There was no build up to it, no curiosity from the main character (who started out as quite homophobic), and then it wasn't even mentioned again after it happened. What.

I don't even know what happened to Hannah's character.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing, heart stopping book
A friend recommended this, I downloaded the sample and was hooked by the end of those few pages.
The book is written brilliantly and the story, well there's never a dull... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Xoochezoox
5.0 out of 5 stars Seamless - I have found a new favourite author
I love a good dystopian novel and this one really didn't disappoint. I felt it to be so well-written, never overtly criticising the "State society" that Hannah, the narrator, has... Read more
Published 7 months ago by V. G. Harwood
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall an entertaining read
I enjoyed reading this book, it was fast paced and I read it in a few days because I wanted to know what happened next. The storyline was interesting and different. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Polka
3.0 out of 5 stars Dystopian USA, interesting premise falls short on delivery
The story begins with Hannah Payne, a 'Red' waking up in prison. In Texas, instead of long, expensive and ineffectual prison sentences as the punishment for crimes, the offender's... Read more
Published 9 months ago by trendytracey
5.0 out of 5 stars A dystopian vision...
After her assured debut novel `Mudbound', Hillary Jordan returns with this incredibly dark and dystopian novel which displays a deftness of touch that few authors achieve after... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Raven
4.0 out of 5 stars When She Woke...
Interesting and thought provoking book, a modern day interpretation of The Scarlett Letter. The Main Character Hannah lives is a future version of our world, but crimes, and their... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars A Well Written, But Poorly Conceived, Near Future Dystopian Twist on...
"When She Woke" retains all the subtlety of the atomic bomb exploding above Hiroshima, Japan on the morning of August 6, 1945 in its depiction of a near future United States... Read more
Published 14 months ago by John Kwok
3.0 out of 5 stars When She Woke
"When she woke, she was red..." Thus begins this novel, which promises so much in an exciting and well written opening section. Read more
Published 14 months ago by S Riaz
5.0 out of 5 stars A Realistic, Scary and Ultimately Uplifting Dystopian Thriller
"When she woke she was red."

Hannah Payne has grown up in a future America where extreme right-wing and very religious beliefs determine the way people live their lives. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Marleen
3.0 out of 5 stars Rather thin in plot and characterisation
From the blurb and some other reviews I was expecting something really special and with a good plot and some philosophical weight (comparisons to Margaret Attwood appeared on the... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Nikki
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