Awake by Natasha Preston

By Ekta R. Garg

August 26, 2015

Genre: YA thriller

Rated: Bookmark it!

A teen begins to remember bits and pieces of the childhood she thought she’d lost after a traumatic event brings back those memories. Unfortunately, the memories scare her enough to make her question what she thought she knew. Soon enough she makes a decision to fix what’s wrong—except that that decision may kill her. Author Natasha Preston follows up her Wattpad success The Cellar with the compelling novel Awake.

Scarlett Garner is your average British teenager. She and her best friend, Imogen, love to talk about life and boys—especially the new guy in school, Noah. By the luck of the draw in their coinciding schedules, a teacher gives Scarlett the responsibility of helping Noah learn his way around school.

In one of their many conversations Noah asks what Scarlett considers to be the most interesting fact about herself, and she gives him the same answer she’s given so many others: she doesn’t remember anything before the age of four. Not a single thing. Noah, like so many others, expresses disbelief and then curiosity. Although the fact bothers her, Scarlett reassures him that she’s made her peace with this oddity.

Except that if she’s honest with herself she hasn’t really let the blank memory go, and Noah’s inquisitive nature makes her start to question the first four years of her life. When she and her family get into a car accident, Scarlett’s early memories start coming back…and what she remembers scares her. The memories make her second guess everything, including whether the family she knows is her own family.

With Noah’s support Scarlett confronts her family and gets answers, but she doesn’t like what she hears. The emotional upheaval makes her wonder whether she really belongs at home, so when Noah suggests a surprise weekend away Scarlett agrees. Her friendship with Noah has long since progressed to a romantic relationship, and she relishes the thought of time away with her first boyfriend. Ultimately their dreamy weekend away turns into Scarlett’s worst nightmare, and she finally gets answers to all of the questions she’s ever asked about herself.

Author Natasha Preston keeps her readers guessing until she begins revealing information about Scarlett from Noah’s point of view. Preston uses first person point of view for both Scarlett and Noah, and while some authors struggle with making separate first person voices distinct Preston handles the switch with ease. Readers will try to figure out Scarlett’s past, and Preston doesn’t disappoint because she doesn’t go with current trends in her choice of plot devices. The result: a fresh story that engages readers all the way to the end.

Noah’s voice occasionally loses some of the authenticity of the character profile Preston has set for him, and Scarlett’s best friend, Imogen, gets reduced to the stereotypical jealous female character. Also, readers might object to the neat ending Preston offers, which may or may not act as a setup for a sequel. Despite these issues, however, I recommend readers Bookmark Awake.