When She Woke


How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Bibliobeth for a book club read.


Hannah Payne’s life has been devoted to church and family, but after her arrest, she awakens to a nightmare: she is lying on a table in a bare room, covered only by a paper gown, with cameras broadcasting her every move to millions at home, for whom observing new Chromes – criminals whose skin colour has been genetically altered to match the class of their crime – is a new and sinister form of entertainment. Hannah is a Red; her crime is murder. The victim, according to the State of Texas, was her unborn child, and Hannah is determined to protect the identity of the father, a public figure with whom she’s shared a fierce and forbidden love.

WHEN SHE WOKE is a fable about a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of a not-too-distant future – where the line between church and state has been eradicated and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated but chromed and released back into the population to survive as best they can. In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a path of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith.


I have quite a lot to say about this book, which is good considering that it’s a book club read. It’s certainly an interesting, thought-provoking read but unfortunately half way through it began to fall short.

The story revolves around Hannah Payne who lives in a dystopian version of America. Christians are in control and those that commit crimes have to serve their sentences in public in a very humiliating way, their skins are dyed a colour to identify what they have done. Hannah has had an abortion which is classified as murder so her skin has been dyed bright red. The story begins with Hannah spending time on the Chrome Ward as part of a reality TV programme. When she is released to serve her sentence in public, she has to adapt to life as an outcast, with it being clear exactly what crime she has committed. Her every move can be tracked and she becomes a target for the Fist, a group that hunts out and hurts Chromes like Hannah.

The first half of this book was intriguing to read, learning about where Hannah lives and the reaction to the abortion that her family has. My interest was still held when Hannah was released into society, but I wanted to know more about the other colour Chromes. The second half felt a bit disjointed for me. It was action packed which I’m sure a lot of people will really enjoy, but some of the decisions Hannah made just didn’t seem to sit right with the character that Hannah was. I didn’t believe that the character would have such a dramatic change.

Hillary Jordan is a talented writer, I was intrigued until half way through and interested enough to carry on reading until the end. I just wish Hannah’s character was more developed.

Would I recommend it?:

Reading next:
Mistress Of Rome- Kate Quinn