Saturday, January 5, 2013

ARC Review: Middle Ground by Katie Kacvinsky

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: November 20th, 2012

In this provocative cautionary tale for teens, the sequel to Awaken, seventeen-year-old Maddie’s rebellion against the digital-only life grows dangerous. Maddie is in Los Angeles, trying to stay out of trouble. But one night, a seemingly small act of defiance lands her in the place she fears the most: a detention center. Here, patients are reprogrammed to accept a digital existence. Maddie is now fighting for her mind, her soul, and her very life. Once again, Katie Kacvinsky paints a disturbing picture of our increasingly technology-based society.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

When I first began reading this book, I wasn't really sure how I was going to feel about it.  I absolutely LOVED its predecessor, Katie Kacvinsky's debut, Awaken (read my full review HERE), and I had high hopes for this one.  I couldn't wait to see what direction Maddie's life would take, and whether her relationship with and feelings for Justin were real.  Well, Middle Ground started out a bit shaky for me.  Not to get spoilery, but during the first few chapters I felt like Maddie was being needlessly reckless, given the situation she was in, and I didn't see anything working out at all like I was hoping it was going to.  I started to feel a sense of dread and pending disappointment, and I was not liking it one bit.  THEN... The story made this crazy turn in a direction that I never imagined it would go in, and I was beyond impressed.  I don't want to give anything away, because I want you to feel those same feelings I felt when I was reading this.  I stopped trying to predict what was going to happen next, and just went with it, and it was brilliant.

I loved the characters and dialogue in Awaken, and I thought those elements were even better in Middle Ground.  I also loved how inside Maddie's head we were in Middle Ground.  I felt like she was really detached in Awaken, and in Middle Ground her soul is laid bare through the horrors she endured for her cause.  It was captivating.  I found the story original, well-paced, action-packed, and intellectually stimulating; Not an easy combo to come by.  As with its predecessor, the social commentary was amazingly subtle, yet absolutely compelling.  Finally, I really enjoyed how the romantic element worked out.  I had some misgivings about the relationship between Maddie and Justin after book one, and while things didn't play out the way that I expected them to in this book, I was happy nonetheless.  My only disappointment with this book was that I had hoped to see more of Maddie's mother, as I had grown to really like her in Awaken.  Perhaps there will be a book #3...

If you haven't read Awaken yet, do yourself a favor and pick it up.  It is a plausible, well-drawn dystopia, that really keeps you thinking long after it is over.  That, and you need to read it before you can begin reading its even more brilliant sequel...

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ 

Grade Level Recommendation:  I stand by my recommendation for Awaken; 5th grade and up (ages 10+).  There is some romance, but nothing graphic.

1 comment:

  1. The characterization in this book had me heart crying and smiling. Justin Solvi is at the tippy top of respectable, amazing, glorious book boys. His vulnerability in this book was incredible. I also really enjoyed Gabe's character! And I missed Maddie's mom, too!


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