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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

WWW Trilogy Week: Wake by Robert J. Sawyer (Review)

Genre:Science Fiction
Publication.Date  March 30th 2010
Published By:  Penguin Canada
WebsiteWWW Website
Wake - Goodreads
My review copy:paperback provided by the publisher (*thank you*~)
Where to get: Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | Amazon

     Caitlin Decter is young, pretty, feisty, a genius at math-and blind. Still, she can surf the net with the best of them, following its complex paths clearly in her mind. 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...

"How do you find a Canadian in a crowded room? Start stepping on people’s feet and wait for someone to apologize to you"
"The sky above the island was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel—which is to say it was a bright, cheery blue."
"Not darkness, for that implies an understanding of light. Not silence, for that suggests a familiarity with sound. Not loneliness, for that requires knowledge of others. But still, faintly, so tenuous that if it were any less it wouldn’t exist at all: awareness. Nothing more than that. Just awareness—a vague, ethereal sense of being. Being . . . but not becoming. No marking of time, no past or future—only an endless, featureless now, and, just barely there in that boundless moment, inchoate and raw, the dawning of perception . . ."

     Fascinating, engrossing and thought-provoking, Wake is the first installment in the fantastic WWW Trilogy series by Robert J. Sawyer. This profound and thematically diverse novel explores some of the extremely important issues, like the origins and emergence of consciousness, information technology and artificial intelligence. It’s a brilliant, fast-paced and emotionally engaging story full of suspense, humor and Canadian trivia that will blow your mind! 

     The book follows at least three different story lines that, at least in the first volume, don’t seem to be related to each other in any particular way. 

     First, we have Caitlin Decter, a smart and likable 16-year-old girl with a healthy dose of sass. Caitlin was blind from birth. Her retinas encode what they are seeing in a way that doesn’t make sense to her brain, and so even though her eyes are perfectly healthy, the encoding errors prevent her from seeing. She never even once saw how the world really looks like, never had a chance to experience the vast variety of colors and shapes, never saw her parents and friends. Caitlin spent 16 years of her life in totally impenetrable darkness, so when a Japanese scientist, Masayuki Kuroda, offered her an experimental implant and possibly a chance to see for the first time, she gladly accepted it.
     Together with her mother Caitlin flies to Japan and undergoes a surgical procedure. A signal-processing device is placed directly behind her left retina. Its purpose is to correct the encoding errors. However, instead of normal vision, the implant allows her to “see” the Web with thousands of links and connections intertwined with each other in beautiful landscape of colors. As she explores the new found cyberspace world, she discovers an intelligent being, a consciousness on the web that not only thinks on its own, but is capable of learning and communicating. Caitlin, together with her new friend – Webmind – are about to change the world forever.

     The second storyline follows Shoshana Glick, a 27-year-old grad student working at the research facility in southern California, and an ape named Hobo, who is a mix of two breeds – a chimpanzee and hobo bonobo. He’s a very special ape and not only because of his genetics, he’s also smart and self aware, and can communicate with humans using sign language. Hobo stays at the Marcuse Institute, among people he considers to be his friends, but his future is still bleak. There’s a custody battle going on between two groups of scientists – one that wants to nurture and study him, and the other that wants to castrate him, to ensure he can’t further dilute the bloodline of the species. 

     Meanwhile, an outbreak of the bird flu occurs in China and the Chinese government takes some drastic yet questionable measures to contain the situation. A whole village gets wiped out by a bomb, and the communication with the outside world gets cut off completely to avoid the spread of the news.
This, as we learn later, is the incident that leads to the emergence of Webmind, the world’s first digital intelligence.   

     This book is marvelous. It caught my interest from the very beginning with the author’s unique and wonderfully refreshing take on understanding artificial intelligence and emergence of consciousness.  I fell in love with Sawyer’s fantabulous writing style. This is a Science Fiction book, but it doesn’t read as one.  I’d say it’s a Science Fiction for people who don’t necessary like SF genre, but  for those who enjoy a solid plot full of big ideas and real people. The story flow is deliciously smooth. Despite covering a wide range of topics – from math, medicine, technology and intelligence to what it means to be aware, conscious and inspired – it doesn’t come across as overwhelming or too informative. Instead, what we get is a fantastic background for compelling stories of hope, fear, trust and acceptance. 

     There’s not a single thing I didn’t like about Wake. It was stimulating and emotionally engaging. The diversity in characters was phenomenal. We get a broad palette of protagonists. There’s not only the difference in age and nationality, but also profound and clear differences in culture, health, intelligence, sexuality and world view. The complexity of this novel is deeply impressive. 

     The first installment in the WWW Trilogy ends with a mind-boggling cliff hanger and I’m sure you won’t even blink before picking up volume two, Watch.This is officially my numero uno SF book EVER!

This review is posted as a part of WWW Trilogy Week @Bookish

Come back tomorrow to read my review of Watch
And don't forget to come back on 16th to enter the huge giveaway of the whole WWW Trilogy!!!

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤
About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing


A Backwards Story said...

Oh, I read the first book in this trilogy way back when it was in hardcover, but then I forgot to look for books two and three (you can tell how often I hit up my sci-fi section). Thanks for reminding me!

So glad you enjoyed it ^_^

Jennie said...

Wow, this book sounds so different and interesting. I love sci-fi so I'm definitely checking this series out. :D

Natalie said...

I keep meaning to check out this series..and your review has made me even more curious!! Robert J. Sawyer is going to be at Fan Expo in Toronto so I should prob read it before then so that I can get him to hopefully sign my copy! :)

landofbooks said...

This just sounds amazing to read. I need to put this in my wanting to get list. :D

Sarah said...

If I didn't want it before (which I did), I definitely want it now. Great review!

Bonnie said...

I don't usually read a lot of science fiction but this actually sounds like a series that I could get into!(and the Canadian trivia is just an added bonus!)

Cassia said...

This looks so awesome. I must read it. I am going to add it to my to-be-read pile. :)

Julie said...

What a great review! So much going on in this book: It sounds like a really, really good one. Thanks so much for recommending this book:)
jwitt33 at live dot com

Anna said...

Sounds intriguing WOW would love to read this book.

SweetShenanigans said...

The quote about the Canadian is hilarious (and being one, it's so true!)

Mary said...

I don't read a lot of sci-fi,but this sounds really good! Thanks for the review!
Mary A Book A Day

Lissyta said...

I love this "How do you find a Canadian in a crowded room? Start stepping on people’s feet and wait for someone to apologize to you"

Simon Mac Donald said...

Wow, you are much more eloquent in your review of this book as opposed to my plodding commentary.

aurora M. said...

I think I need to check out this series. Odd I haven't heard about these much. Thanks for review.

Krystal said...

Caitlin sounds like a character I would really like. Thank you for the review!

candice said...

This sounds like an awesome book. I've had Robert Sawyer's Flashforward on my TBR list, loved the TV show. Can't believe they didn't renew it. :( Excited to read Sawyer's YA books.

FairyWhispers said...

the cover's really nice


Munnaza said...

I don't think I've ever read a book quite like this one, and your review has me intrigued. I'm not really a fan of science fiction, but it sounds like it's more than what I usually see in the SF genre, so I'm willing to give it a shot. Great review!

Enbrethiliel said...


I don't like typical Cyberpunk novels, but the way you describe this book reminds me of a futuristic, Cyberpunk-esque novel I did enjoy: Snow Crash by Neil Stephenson. I remember that it has a man with no arms and legs using technology to give himself virtual limbs . . . but that's nothing next to Robert J. Sawyer's giving Caitlin a virtual eye. It's just something so new, you know?

Jaime Lester said...

Ok, I gotta tell ya. The cover? Not very..... captivating, maybe? It just doesn't capture my interest. Honestly, it almost repels me. But I have been trying to learn not to let that influence me. Once I read the synopsis, the cover was no longer my concern. This book sounds awesome. Very intriguing. I think I will check this series out.

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