Audiobook Review: Wild Awake

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review: Wild AwakeWild Awake by Hilary T. Smith
Narrator: Shannon McManus
Length: 7 hrs, 50 mins
Published by Harper Audio on May 28, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher

Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:

1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate, Lukas, will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:

1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won't be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can't he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*Also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith's debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy.

The Wild Awake audiobook turned out to be a lot of fun, largely because of the movie I played out in my head, one I probably would have loved when I was a teen, but more on that later.

Why Did I Read This Book?
Wild Awake got so many rave reviews from trusted reviewers, but even so I was a bit hesitant to read the book. Reason one was that I’m not much interested in books on drug use. Reason two is that a couple of people mentioned the style was sort of stream of consciousness, which I tend not to enjoy. Thus, I decided the audiobook would be a good way to not be bothered by the latter but still check out the book. This was a good choice for me.

What’s the Story Here?
Kiri has been left alone for the summer while her parents go on a cruise. Her parents are seriously neglectful, because this Kiri spends the summer making terrible decisions: getting drunk, smoking pot, neglecting to practice for her piano recital, and mostly entering bad neighborhoods alone. Kiri has gone off the rails because she got a call from someone who said he had her dead sister’s stuff. Since she idolized her sister Sukey, and learning so many things her family kept from her (like the fact that her sister was murdered and didn’t die in a car crash) dredges up her emotions again and she’s not prepared to handle that.

How are the Characters?
While I cannot say that I particularly liked Kiri, she did feel very real and very much like a teen. There was just something so naively unaware about Kiri and the way she approached life, and she did everything with so much sincerity. She truly had no idea that taking a whole bunch of pills after smoking pot and drinking alcohol was liable to end with her death. She just felt so young and innocent, even if she doesn’t act that way most of the time. She and Skunk are the only ones who really get fleshed out, though, so I did feel like some of the characterization was lacking.

And the Romance?
Oh man, and I thought Piz was a horrible name for a love interest. We have a new winner! Skunk. Stinks, doesn’t it? (*insert groans here*) Anyway, I actually liked Skunk, nickname and smoking aside, and his real name is Philippe, so he does have one. The two of them are both bad news bears and need to get on the straight and narrow. I don’t think I want them to date forever, but they both needed someone to help them through some issues, so it was a good time for them. I didn’t even mind that they instaloved, because Kiri thinks so many things that aren’t true are true that it just felt like being young and stupid.

And the Family Dynamics?
This is where the story really lacked for me. There wasn’t really ever a big confrontation with her family. She has a bit of an emotional arc with her older brother when he comes home to find her nearly dead, but her parents come home and just order her to see some shrinks. Like, really? That’s it. Ugh. I just felt like there should have been MORE with all of that, since the central issue was Sukey, but the focus was more on Kiri’s romance with Skunk, which was a bit unfortunate.

How was the Narration?
The narration totally delighted me, because McManus’ voice sounds a lot like Christina Ricci, so I was picturing the whole book as a movie starring a young Christina Ricci, who totally would have been boss at this roll. Ricci was one of my favorite actresses back in the day because she shares my first name and was the only one to get to kiss a cute boy in Now and Then (even if she did grow up to be Rosie O’Donnell). Anyway, McManus does a good job capturing Kiri’s youthful idealism.

Sum It Up with a GIF:

13 responses to “Audiobook Review: Wild Awake”

  1. Appropriate GIF is appropriate.

    Also. I am just nodding my head over here in agreement.

    Skunk + Kiri = Crazy Train.
    Drugs = bad.

    The audio sounds like a good life choice though.

  2. I am so curious about this book, but after DNFing that Fiend book for the writing style I am a little scared of it. I like the sound of it being this ridiculous summer adventure that she goes on while her parents are gone. I just hope I can get into the writing.

  3. Amy says:

    I have seen a lot of different reviews on this one, but I liked this book too. Like you said, Kiri did seem real. She was totally freaking crazy, but it made sense to me somehow. I was actually expecting more of a Ten Things We Did vibe from this so it was a surprise that it was nothing like that, but I’m glad! Great review.

    • Christina says:

      It was fun to listen to, but I definitely didn’t love it, you know? Totally believed her portrayal of Kiri, even if I did want to shake that girl. She makes such awful choices. I’ve not read Ten Things We Did, so I don’t know about that.

    • Amy says:

      Haha!! I totally wanted to tell Kiri to stop being so stupid too, but I also loved how real she was at the same time! And OMG her brother was an ass!! I get he was mad, but he seriously needs help too.

    • Christina says:

      Yes, the brother was the worst! He didn’t actually try to stop her, just whined and tattled. Like, dude, she’s in DANGER.

  4. Harper sent me a copy of this, as well, though I haven’t read it yet. I’m a little unsure because I don’t know if I want to read about mental illness, but I love a stream of consciousness style of writing, so that’s definitely a plus for me. I’m sure I’ll get to it eventually. 😉

    • Christina says:

      For the most part, it’s not really mental illness, though there are some shades of that with Skunk. Kiri’s mostly just drugged up, but I don’t think she’s actually crazy.

  5. Molli Moran says:

    Lord, YES to that there definitely should have been MORE with her family. I hated all that so much, because it was so obvious to me that Kiri was playing her parents and I’m like “really dudes, you aren’t picking up on what’s going on?” I just…I was so MAD that her brother didn’t DO more, that her parents didn’t do more, because I could see what Kiri was going through even if she didn’t know. UGH sorry, rant over!

    Anyway, glad you found some things to like in this one, Christina. I gave it my equivalent of 3 stars because it was really realistic, even if I thought Kiri was dumber than a box of rocks – and I would probably read something else from this author. Looks like audio book was a good choice for you for this one!

    • Christina says:

      The fact that her parents left her alone without anyone to check on her when she’s so obviously unstable was upsetting to begin with. On top of that, they didn’t even do anything themselves when they found out what she’d been up to. Sure, send her to a psychiatrist, but you should also interact with her, not hire someone to do it for you. Maybe that’s why she takes drugs so they can have her emotions for her. The easy way out is what she learned from those assholes.

      Well, she’s going through some stuff, but that scene where she lets that older guy like roofie her. Um, no. That was awful.

  6. Judith says:

    “And I thought Piz was a horrible name for a love interest”. LOVE INTEREST?! NOPE. And I think the name suits him. Although I prefer calling him “Piss”. Anyway, I’m still not sure if I should read this book or not. It sounds different but I don’t know if it’s good-different or bad-different. I’m glad you liked it though! From the synopsis I WOULD think that it would be more about the family and less about the romance but yeah… *sighs* YA books.

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