When She Woke
by Hillary Jordan
It has been quite awhile since I’ve posted, my dear dear book minions. I ensure you it is not because I have abandoned reading to watch Jersey Shore, Honey Boo Boo (whatever the hell that is), or the 240th season of The Bachelor. No no indeed I have not joined an occult that makes one dye their hair an unnatural “blonde” (a.k.a. white) color and worship a never-before-seen space alien with super-duper intelligence named Vot. I’ve just been busy. But now I have a few books to review to catch up! And I know how you all have been continually and frantically clicking the “refresh” button hoping that a new post would pop up and curve your ungodly cravings for my writing. I am here to release your pain. But I digress…
When She Woke by Hillary Jordan was an interesting read. I am quite fond of the dystopia genre but I also believe it is somewhat hard to pull off and create an original story. Even The Hunger Games was based on a previous idea; a story of the Greek Gods. But I must extol Hillary Jordan for her novel. Her story was quite unique and very well written.
The world is a different place than it once was. Punishment for crime has shifted and become more harsh without criminals having to endure the setting of jail. Instead, they are quite free to live among the rest of society; a society that still rejects them because they can no longer hide what they have done. The government has deemed what they call chroming a perfectly good way to chastise offenders. When someone commits a crime, be it drugs, robbery, murder, etc., they spend about 30 days in a jail cell on their own after being dyed the appropriate color. Drug dealers are yellow, murderers are red, sex offenders are blue, and so on. After 30 days they are released back into the world but with a visible stigmata. The non-chromes are unrelenting with their looks of disgust and harassment and many chromes are forced to live in ghettos. Think back 60 years to the Jews and their stars.
Hannah lives in Texas, one of the states to reverse Roe v. Wade. Abortion is illegal again and considered murder. Her family is ultra Christian, living life according to the bible (another version) where they dress almost like the Mormons and Amish. Hannah tries her hardest to follow what she is taught but she, like most people brought up super religious, has questions that her parents won’t answer. Her passion is sewing; she works as a seamstress. In her free time she secretly makes dresses for herself that she knows the world will never see because they show pieces of her back or her legs. Her family is part of a popular church with thousands of followers…sheep following one man, Reverend Aidan Dale. Reverend Dale is young (mid-thirties), handsome, and humble. He and his wife have no children and dedicate their lives to the church and Africa.
Hannah, our main character is introduced in the very beginning where she wakes up in a small room with only a bed and small bathroom. She is alone. She is the color red. She has 30 days in this room. A room with a mirror so she is reminded every day of her crime. A room with cameras so the world can watch her on television. A room where most people before her went crazy.
Hannah had an abortion. Her mother has turned her back on her. Her sister isn’t allowed to ever speak with her again because her all-knowing husband announces her to be a whore. Her father loves her but cannot bring her home after her release. The father of her baby is with his wife. Hannah refused to name her abortionist and the father. Doing so added time onto her sentence. She will be a chrome for 16 years. Every few months she must go and get the virus put back in her. If she doesn’t show up she will slowly go crazy. The government can track her. She’s not allowed to leave the state. She must find a place to live and somewhere to work.
After Hannah’s release her father picks her up and takes her to a rehab center for chromes. They only accept yellows (drugies) and reds (as long as it was just abortion). They are the most religious people ever and it’s worse than being in jail. Hannah makes a friend, Kayla, but she doesn’t stay long. They both end up leaving and have to fend for themselves.
Along with the government being able to track them, regular citizens can also track them online. There are groups that target chromes and groups that help chromes. Hannah is targeted by both.
I enjoyed reading this book. It was frightening to think that this could easily happen in our world. We are becoming less and less tolerable, we push our own beliefs on people, and the government has its sticky little paws in too many dishes. Hillary Jordan does a great job of course. She writes very well. I only gave it 4 Bookmarks because toward the end I started to lose interest just a bit. But overall I really enjoyed it. It was kind of dark (which I love) but not outrageous.