Book Review: Wake by Robert Sawyer

Wake by Robert J. Sawyer 4 out of 10 stars (4/10)

I’ll read most anything Sawyer writes because his ideas are fascinating and original, but I’m beginning to lose my enthusiasm after reading this.

Sawyer has brilliant, intriguing ideas, and he conveys them well – it’s the main reason I’ll read most anything he publishes. Unfortunately, each new book appears to be pandering to the masses: simple reading level, shallow characters with some gimmick to keep one’s interest, cultural references that are like ad placements… this story felt like filler to a bigger story, maybe detailed in its sequels. I devoured it quickly, but it’ll be forgotten quickly too.

Here’s a summary of the novel from Quill & Quire, which includes an accurate review I think:

Having recently moved with her family from Texas to Waterloo, Ontario, Caitlin is gradually settling into her new life when she is contacted by a Japanese professor with an irresistible offer: he has been working on a computer-based system that might restore her sight. The implant doesn’t allow Caitlin to see the physical world, but plunges her into a surreal universe that she quickly realizes is a visualization of the Internet. She is not, however, alone in this universe: something is coming to life within the Web, building not only awareness and intelligence, but sentience.

I know Sawyer can write brilliantly – many of his short stories (from Iterations and Identity Theft: And Other Stories) are as engaging as his novels, but they’re succinct and tight; and his website has wonderful essays. Maybe the novel-form gives him too much leeway for throwing in unnecessary cliches and cultural references as filler. One has to wonder if he’s paid for the endorsement-like tidbits he includes.

I have little interest in reading the sequels to Wake: WWW: Watch and Wonder (WWW, Book 3). Maybe I’ll pick them up if I see them in the Bargain Bin.

Note: This review has also been posted on amazon.ca.

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