Only David Levithan could so masterfully and creatively weave together a plot that's both parts political action and reaction, as well as a touching and insightfully-drawn teen love story.
Once again, David Levithan (Boy Meets Boy) has painted a picture of a world where love--between anyone--matters above all things, and where the smallest gesture can mean so much, for good or for bad. In the near future, the first Jewish and openly gay President has just been elected, that is, until the governor of one of the swing states demands a recount, putting the election result in jeopardy. Reluctant to believe that everything they stand for is about to be denied, Duncan, his boyfriend Jimmy, and their motley crew of friends set out on a road trip to rally around their candidate and demand justice for all. One thing's for sure: no one's coming home the same person they were when they left.
When the author is capable, as Levithan is, of speeding up action and focusing on the big, biggest, picture one minute, and freezing time to focus on the minutest detail the next, you know the novel's going to be good--and it is. Fans of Boy Meets Boy might skim impatiently through the abundant and slightly repetitive political speeches that mark the characters' physical and spiritual journey, eager to get to the touching love story, but Levithan should be commended for not simply attempting to reproduce the magic of his previous novel. There's an interesting play here between macro and micro, one word or action that can change the world for billions or shatter someone's heart. With strange and sometimes delightful characters (Gus, especially, is hilarious), and a well-detailed future world with many imaginative and amusing aspects, Levithan shows that he's an expert in human nature, which remains the same no matter how times change. All that being said, I couldn't help but feel that something was slightly amiss here. Maybe the imagined future of how badly our world went wrong in the years between now and the time of the novel seemed a little overexaggerated to me, like the satire was being carried too far or applied a little heavy-handedly. But then, Wide Awake is as much cautionary tale as fairy tale--the difference being, that despite its warnings, Levithan writes so thoughtfully and beautifully that his novel can't help but leave readers with hope, hope "that good is possible".