Wednesday, June 12, 2013

ARC Review: Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

Title: Wild Awake
Author: Hilary T. Smith
Pages: 375 pages
Format acquired: Paperback (ARC)
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication date: May 28th 2013
Source: Received from publisher (Thanks, Christine!)
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble

Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:

1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:

1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy.
(Image and summary taken from Goodreads.)


Crazy. This book is crazy. I'm not even sure if it's good or bad kind. But for Miss Smith to write that down and put it on paper for every one else to see, it's simply brilliant. She was able to pinpoint every emotion, every thought and characterize every person. It was hazy between Kiri and the rest of the world but somehow, it wasn't. It was getting fuzzy, but at the same time clearer for her. I don't know how else to explain it but I'll do my very best because this book is sure worth a lot.

The book starts off with our dear Kiri-bird in the midst of artistic stimulation (that's high on drugs for us simpletons) she's with her friend Lukas, who, you guessed it! She has a crush on. They are also bandmates and they kissed. Once. And he also said that he wanted to focus on their music and getting into a relationship would mess everything up. So from the get-go of the story, anyone with half a brain would conclude that either Lukas A.) Just found out he was gay and didn't want to tell Kiri or B.) Is not interested thankyouverymuch. Apparently, Kiri doesn't get the hint and still lives waiting her sexual fantasy with her and Lukas to come alive. (It's B, by the way. Lukas is just a coward.) But then she gets a phone call from a strange man who says that if she wants Sukey's things, she must come and get it or it will be thrown away. Sukey is her sister and she is also very dead. The thing is, she is actually torn between getting her sister's things or not. Sukey was the "black sheep" of the family but Kiri was short of worshipping her. And when Sukey died and everyone started getting mean, Kiri was there to replace her. To be the daughter their parents wanted. And she has this voice in her head which I'm not sure if it's her conscience of not but it argues with her constantly and after giving in to the little voice, She bikes to Sukey's old apartment and everything changes from there on.

The change wasn't rapid or anything. It was actually progressive. At first, It was the thoughts then they got so loud she started to act them out. But then she got really crazy. As in, batshit crazy. The second half of the book is like stepping into a drug-induced world. I think the fact the she smoked a lot of marijuana and drank alcohol a lot and didn't sleep could be the reason. She starts zooming through places and things and conversations and she just keeps on going. I imagined her to be a young madwoman. With the crazy hair and everything. I really didn't catch what her tipping point was, but I think it may be finding out that her sister was murdered intentionally and not killed in a car crash (which explains the biking). She starts acting like Sukey (worshipped her) and eventually, she starts to become like Sukey. At first, you're "wow, she's gone mad. Sukey was a bad egg!" But then Sukey's real story comes out and it's not the one her parents were feeding her all these years. And I guess it's because she misses Sukey a lot and this is her way of bringing her back. She tries and tries but in the end, she becomes successful at it.

Through the book, you get to meet Skunk who is this mammoth of a guy and actually has problems of his own *SPOILER* (but they get together). I don't know what to make of him because they're both actually weird and their problems aren't like acne or excessively sweaty hands but mental ones. So... a druggie+mental guy is not exactly the best combo you'd look out for. But they make it work anyway. Go figure.

The only thing I didn't like about the book was how much vices were in it. And the fact that she got through most of her life issues using it. She gets super wasted and stoned and passes out for around 2 days and (that's where she started getting crazy.) she frequently smokes marijuana and hangs around shady people. I mean, I know that a lot of teenagers do that today and stuff but I don't think you should be fine with it. The drugs and alcohol were a bit abused if you ask me. And I don't think that it should have been that a huge part of the story, but then again I'm not the author and it's her artistic choice anyway. :)

All in all, this book was a fresh, slightly comedic but really good contender for me this year. I don't think I'd forget this book for a long, long time. Awesome job, Miss Smith! :D

P.S. I really liked a quote from p.217 try to guess what it is! :)

Note: The copy I have is an advance reading copy so the pages and format of the book may still change.



  1. Happy for you, since you enjoyed the story! I've been hearing mixed reviews about this, but now I want to read it because of your review! :)

    Kyle @ The Selkie Reads Stories

    1. Oooh! Thank you!! I hope you'll like it too! :D

  2. I have been hearing mixed review but really want to check it out. I think I might have the same issue with the vices as you though.

    Ashley @ The Quiet Concert

    1. Tell me what you think after you've read it! :) The vices were used quite a lot and somewhat casually. But the story was great, though! :)