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But Caitlin's brain long ago co-opted her primary visual cortex to help her navigate online. So when she receives an implant to restore her sight, 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 more and more intelligent with each passing day.
BONUS AUDIO: Includes an exclusive introduction written and read by author Robert J. Sawyer.
What the critics say
"The thematic diversity - and profundity - makes this one of Sawyer's strongest works to date." (Publishers Weekly)
"Unforgettable. Impossible to put down." (Jack McDevitt)
"Thoughtful and engaging, and a great beginning to a fascinating trilogy." (Robert Charles Wilson)
What members say
By Seth H. Wilson on 2009-04-14
A Great, if Incomplete, Concept
Wake marks my first encounter with Robert J. Sawyer, ad I've come away from the novel thoroughly impressed. I'm legally blind myself, though I do have some residual vision, so I immediately identified with protagonist Caitlin Decter, and I felt that she was a pretty believable blind character. The concept of visualizing the web was also intriguing, as was the premise that the web has some sort of underlying consciousness.
My only complaint about the book is that, even for the first novel in a trilogy it feels incomplete. One of the plotlines is simply dropped midway through the book. I understand that these plotlines will be picked up in the sequel, but an adept author should be able to bring about at least smaller resolutions within the overarching story at the end of each book, and I don't feel like Sawyer accomplished this.
To end on a positive note, the Audible Frontiers production is fantastic, with strong voice acting from all the narrators.
81 people found this helpful
By 'Nathan on 2010-03-03
Robert J. Sawyer is my favorite science fiction author, hands down. He delivers a kind of science fiction I've always enjoyed - one that breaks past the science in to psychology, sociology or morality, but is still grounded in excellent characters with whom the reader can easily connect.
In WAKE, we meet Caitlin, a young woman with a congenital blindness and a gift for mathematics. Her voice rings true, and when she is given a chance at sight via a new technology, she finds herself capable of "seeing" the internet. At the same time, other events conspire to bring a glimmer of consciousness to the net itself, and the two stories - Caitlin's sight, and the nascent entity's growth - parallel in a marvelously paced story that kept me going.
As the first book in a trilogy, there's ground work being built, and I was definitely left satisfied with the individual novel, but looking forward to where the story will head in the next installment, WATCH.
If you do enjoy listening to books, this one just bumped "Memoirs of a Geisha" from my #1 Listening Experience position. The multiple reading voices really added a performance depth to the reading that took something already great and made it all the more enjoyable. Bravo to the whole cast!
48 people found this helpful
By Peter on 2009-05-03
A thoroughly enjoyable listen!
I see so far that the reviews have been a bit "hate it or love it" I will not comment on the underlying premise of sentient web mind. It's the basic assumption of the book, I didn't question it, I just sat back and thought "Okay, that's the assumption" and then sat back and listened.
And enjoy I did. A mix of different story lines, a good presentation, and it ended all too quickly with me wanting more of the story. Realising that the next book in the series is not available was is just a big tease! I will be downloading it as soon as it's available!
Overall I give it high marks.
26 people found this helpful
By Paul on 2010-01-19
Canada's Ray Bradbury
Sawyer's novels remind me of Ray Bradbury's writing for some reason. His novels work around a fantastic premise and then he builds in very human characters with their own flaws and shortcomings into the scene. His facts are incredibly well researched, rivaling or even outstripping Michael Chrichton in factual detail. He certainly beats Chricton in character development. I find myself learning a little something about the universe every time I read Sawyer.
In this book, Sawyer, is also (perhaps unwittingly) updating and reliving the premise of an old Bradbury short story called "Dial Double Zero", where an intelligence is spawned within the phone system.
In Sawyer's version, a "bicameral" intelligence spawns within the internet, a product of a Chinese telecom blackout -- and like Bradbury's "Dial Double Zero", this intelligence contacts a solitary human being. The irony in this story is that the 'web mind' can see, but can't hear, while Katlyn can hear, but is blind except for a new, web connected electronic eye implant and finds out that this growing web mind shares her one eye - perhaps in future novels we're lining up a modern day threesome of Greae Sisters from Greek Mythology? We shall see. There's still one loose plot thread for the next novel.
Unlike others, I thought the narration was excellent. This is a multi-narrator reading, which is not to be confused with a full cast reading or an audiodrama. The woman reading the voice of a 16 year old girl is also reading the voice of a Japanese coding expert, a middle aged Texas born mother and a quiet, yet kind father with his own issues. I found her voice both warm and endearing to the main character's personality, while quite capable of modulating the other character's voices quite clearly. The other narrators were also similarly skilled. The voice of the web mind could win an award for his performance.
20 people found this helpful
By Michael on 2012-10-01
Weak characterization and weaker science
Overall I found this novel quite weak. While the narration was excellent, the characterization of the main protagonist seemed simplistic and bland. I found the story itself slow moving and mostly uninteresting. There have been many very good stories involving emergent computer based intelligence and there is little that is both new and worth reading in Wake. The novel had virtually no action at all, and almost no fresh concepts are presented.
Although I have no problem with the possibility of web based artificial intelligence, I found the science in Wake annoyingly weak. There was a little mathematics that was not complete hogwash, but the rest of the story was pretty silly. I won’t be reading the rest of the series.
This might be more appropriate for a young teen reader, but I wouldn’t have recommended Wake to any young reader with any interest in science. The best thing I can say for the novel, other than the narration, is having a blind female being mathematically inclined would be good for some young female readers.
17 people found this helpful
By maxpower on 2012-05-10
Boring and infested with puns
Any additional comments?
This book got such great reviews, I was shocked at how little I liked it. So, I thought I should post a review just to provide a counterpoint.
The story (the most important part, to me) was just not very interesting. It was very slow paced with a lot of useless side-plots, not much in the way of conflict (a key to good story), and just not a lot happening. It is of course book 1 of a trilogy, so despite my powering through it just so I could finish it, it didn't provide any satisfaction. Overall, I thought the story was just quite boring.
The actual writing style was, I suppose, your typical overly-literal sci-fi nerd voice. I'm not a big fan of that style. What I really disliked, though, was the constant use of puns which everyone seemed to find hilarious (including a teenage girl... apparently teen girls love cheesy puns, who knew). Generally speaking the attempts at humor were cringeworthy. If you're not funny in real life, you shouldn't try to write characters who are funny.
The audio production was good -- the voice acting was good, and I liked the way they approached the production.
In his author's note, the author comes across as an affable guy and so I actually feel guilty writing this very negative review. But I felt compelled to weigh in to warn potential readers that I found this to be a very tedious and un-entertaining book.
12 people found this helpful
By Nicole Coby on 2009-08-07
A Tightly Woven Plot
This book engaged me in ways I have never been engaged in any science fiction type book. Part of this is that I, as a blind person, related on a deep level to Caitlin, the main character. That said, beyond the plot, which managed to be interessting, humorous and awe-inspiring, I found that the narrators did a superb job. I have never enjoyed multiple narrator audiobooks that I can recall, but this book and the lovely narrators were wonderful! I highly recommend the book and can't wait to see the next book!A
12 people found this helpful
By Jim "The Impatient" on 2013-03-26
At first I thought this was going to be a YA book, then I thought it was a YA book for Girl Math Geeks. I honestly don't know who this book was meant for. I am married to a Math Geek, but I can not recommend it to her, as there really isn't that much math in it. There is a mischmatch of sciences in the book, yet not done well enough to catch the attention of the average reader. Sawyer is obviously a genius and he loves computers, unlike Orson Scott Card or Ray Bradbury who well tell you a sentient being has become aware on the Net or in the Telephone Lines, Sawyer takes you through the process of how. A long drawn out process that you lose interest in after several chapters. Perhaps if it was not so important to have the old Sci-Fi Trilogy, he could have put all this in one book and made it a lot more interesting and not drawn everything out so much.
I still say Sawyer has not written a bad novel, although this is the worst of the seven novels of his I have read. I loved Flash Forward and Calculating God and liked all the others. I am looking forward to Illegal Alien and Factoring Humanity, which I have in my library, but I will stay away from this trilogy, until there are no other Sawyer books to be read.
The production and narrators are excellent, the whole audio is well done.
28 people found this helpful
By Michael G Kurilla on 2017-12-29
Emerging digital consciousness
Wake is Robert J Sawyer's first book in his WWW trilogy. The overall theme and plot concerns the emergence of a digital consciousness from the electronic detritus that accumulates over time within the internet as a consequence of transmission protocols. A teenage girl with a rare form of blindness is the subject of an experimental procedure that restores her sight, but also allows her to visualize the web as a result of her unique brain development. Her ability creates the opportunity for the emerging consciousness to evolve.
The sci-fi elements are mainly digital along with her blindness, that is a signal processing defect, rather than a pure organic defect. As a result, her treatment is an implant along with a computer that reconfigures her optical signals. At the same time, because she has lived her life entirely blind, her visual cortex has developed for an internet / web based navigation that forms the basis of her capacity to also visualize the web. The boot strapping of the emerging digital consciousness is also handled in a realistic manner. Side stories provide backstories for the origin of these unique occurrences.
The narration is handled by an ensemble cast which is appropriate for the multiple perspectives of the story. In particular the teenage girl's role is handled quite well. Even the limited involvement of the author is reasonable as he takes over when a purely pedantic interlude is required (although Sawyer may simply be channeling his inner Stan Lee in this regard).
2 people found this helpful
By Gary on 2015-07-20
Audible, sell these at a trilogy price, please!
The author is very good at mixing scientific concepts with a fairly decent story about a young girl who regains her sight with an aid of an 'Eyepad' and how this starts to affect the ghost within the internet and awakens him to consciousness.
I like that the author is always educating the reader with science, information theory or stories about Helen Keller and relating that to the story at hand. The story has enough science for me to be fully interested and at the same time gives enough of the drama so that my wife enjoys it. A good story to listen to with some one else.
Come on Audible, for a trilogy like this one, why don't you give all three books in the series for the price of one. I'll buy and listen to the other two stories as it is, but you guys really should reduce the price since the price for the paperback new are no longer premium prices. For me, I love stories about AI and can't resist this story and will pay full premium prices to listen to the rest of this story.
5 people found this helpful