I really liked the way the story was told. At first I thought it was simply in first person present, but eventually it comes out that Tegan is actually doing a live webcast about everything that's happened to her. I liked when she'd break from strictly story-telling to give insight on the situation that she's since learned. I'm curious to see how this will go in book 2, though considering her cast ended at the end of When We Wake.
Tegan's kind of an angry character, understandably. This doesn't make it hard to relate to her, though. While I was reading the first few chapters I kept thinking “no, I don't want to know about her past life, because I already know she loses everybody and everything,” but it's kind of important to get a feel for her life before in order to sympathize. I liked that instead of despairing she used her anger and hurt to stand up for herself and fight, despite the many people wanting to use her.
Bethari is a fantastic character. She stands by Tegan and backs her up no matter what. She's sensible, fun, and an awesome computer hacker. I love the first scene in which her and Tegan are introduced. It's all awkward and weird for the first few minutes, but then they discover mutual interests and become more comfortable which each other. I don't know about you, but that describes pretty much all of my friend experiences.
I really liked that because Tegan wasn't up-to-date on the times I got to learn about all the future stuff right along with her; it felt more natural. I don't hate being dropped into a story and figuring things out for myself, but it can hinder my enjoyment some. Healey doesn't go overboard on the future slang either. I do think it's important for a book set in the future to have some of it's own words because language is a thing that evolves, but too much of it can weigh a book down. I think Healey added in just enough for it to feel real, but not pull me out of the story. Plus, kooshy is a really funny word.
The Nutshell: When We Wake is a well-rounded story with a little bit of action, mystery, and a main focus on Tegan's integration into future society. The characters are all pretty fleshed out and it's easy to sympathize with Tegan and her situation. If you want a book with good characters, an engaging story, and well-developed futuristic world then When We Wake is your book.