Speak, $8.99, ISBN 978-0-14-241436-1
Fantasy Romance, 2011
Wake Unto Me marks Lisa Cach’s foray into the young adult romantic paranormal genre, and just like it was with Ms Cach’s books for a more adult audience, this one is a refreshing change from the usual vampire, angel, dystopian melodrama, and other fads flooding the market at the moment. In fact, this one, with its dream and time-travel woo-woo, seems almost dated in comparison to those books. Almost, that is. This one may lack the heaving bosoms of virginal ingenues awaiting the bite of a vampire boyfriend in a dystopian America in the 31st century, but it’s a deftly written and engaging read.
Of course, we have a Special Heroine, the chosen one by prophecy. But our American nobody Caitlyn Monahan does know that she is different from the others since she was young. Haunted by terrifying dreams and unable to confide in anyone, she grasps at a chance to get out of her small town by applying for a scholarship offered by an all-girls college in France. She arrives at the Fortune School – conveniently established in a crumbling and Gothic castle – worried about being unable to fit in with the other students, who are mostly daughters of members of European royalty with an African princess or two thrown in. Little does Cait know that her nightmares will cross the ocean with her, and more interestingly, she will soon be dreaming of a handsome man named Raphael. He may or may not be one of the many ghosts said to haunt the school or he may be real… which could mean that, perhaps, Cait is the ghost in this story. What is going on here? We also have lost treasures, witches, and other fun stuff to ensure that Cait will have the time of her life.
There are some major questions that are left unanswered in this book, but perhaps the author is saving the answers for subsequent books. In the meantime, this is a good example of a story that also doubles as a travelogue. The descriptions of the scenery is fantastic, transporting me into the story without overpowering the story line. Every dark nook and cranny comes alive in this story, making this a suitably eerie read. The plot build-up is also well done. I can’t put this book down until I reach the last page because that’s how much the author has had me by the neck where this story is concerned. The story is also pretty interesting in the sense that the author deftly avoids turning her story into a melting pot of clichés. There is a mean girl or two among Cait’s schoolmates, but on the whole, these young ladies come off as normal people rather than caricatures and Cait eventually finds some good friends among them. Cait is not some self-depreciative “Me pretty? No, no, no!” emo heroine – she has her issues thanks to her psychic abilities, but she has guts and the determination to go out and do something instead of wallowing in self pity and waiting for a boy to save her from her life.
The only weakness here, and that is only if you are reading this book for the romance first and foremost, is that the relationship between Raphael and Cait is pretty underwritten. Cait is obviously infatuated with Raphael – he is a cute boy, after all – and, thanks to some early developments in this story, she is convinced that they are meant to be. But that’s all there is to her feelings for Raphael – they do not develop beyond superficial attraction. There is no point of view from Raphael to help turn this romance into something more meaningful than a summertime fling. I find Cait’s personality and the plot good enough to compensate for the weak romance, but I can understand why readers who pick this book up expecting something like I Am Twilight Number Four may end up feeling disappointed.
Wake Unto Me is an enjoyable low-key paranormal tale, and while I’m not blind to its faults, it manages to entertain me much better than most other young adult stories I’ve read recently. I like it, and if you happen to buy this one, I hope you do too!