Monday, December 5, 2011

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

Due to the failure of our penal system, this near-future novel presents a day where non-violent criminals are re-released into society with genetically altered, rainbow-tinted skin to match their crime: Blues rarely live long upon release (child molesters), but Yellows (misdemeanors, like petty theft) can sometimes find work in minimum-wage, after-hours jobs until their sentence runs out. 

With a million winks, nods and nudges toward Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter," our main character Hannah Payne is a convicted Red. Her crime: the murder of her unborn child (she's caught after having an illegal abortion). How sweet, innocent and ultra-religious Hannah became a Red is the compelling tale. 

We find lots of clues about how society got to this strange point -  a plague, political upheaval, technological changes - but that info is doled out on a need-to-know basis. I hadn't expected all the religion in this book, but it's done well. Through her ordeals, Hannah lost her faith and searching for answers is part of her quest. 

The book gave me lots to think about - and yet, it was very entertaining and an easy read. It's one of those stories that stays with you. And with all the hot-button topics it presents, it's the kind of story you'll revisit and reassess long after you've put down the book.

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