Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review: If You Die Before I Wake

My Rating: 3.5/5

Sabrina Ryan wants to be an ordinary teenager - family, high school, maybe get a boyfriend. Instead she has Devon.
Devon is the blood thirsty monster that terrorizes her dreams - a demonic little boy responsible for killing their parents. When she woke from the coma, she tried to tell everyone what he'd done. Instead no one believed her and she got a ticket to a mental hospital.
Now seventeen, this intelligent, artistic, borderline-paranoid-schizophrenic is moving in with her grandfather and she's determined to be normal, even if she doesn't know what it means. But ordinary things, like ordering at a restaurant and trying to fit in, prove more difficult than she expected.
With no family - no friends - no sense of reality - and no cure for Devon, she decides she's better off with no one, until she meets Riley. A captivating young bibliophile working for her grandfather, he knows more about her past than she'd like. Overwhelmed when things heat up quickly, they cool down fast when Sabrina learns he has a secret that threatens to tear them apart.
Artistic achievements, horrifying clowns and lucid dreaming propel IF YOU DIE BEFORE I WAKE on a fantastic ride of Technicolor evil and do-or-die determination. If Sabrina can figure it all out, she just might get the normal life she's always wanted.

Description and photo are from

My Review

       This book has a very interesting plot. Sabrina has spent the majority of her life locked in a psych ward where she was constantly told she was crazy. Now she is out and living in the real world with her grandfather, Carl. It is very interesting to read about her having to adjust to the way things work. Things we don’t even think about are things that she does not understand; in fact her first obstacle is trying to order food at a restaurant. In lock up the kids are not given any choices in life and having a menu with multiple choice makes her have an anxiety attack. Even something as simple as being able to go outside and choosing where she can go causes her a lot of anxiety.
   Sabrina has horrific dreams in which her older brother Devon is always demon-like and killing people. The most prominent of these dreams is the one in which she sees the plane crash which killed her whole family and it is caused by Devon killing the pilots. These dreams are why she has been locked up the majority of her life. After Sabrina goes to live with her grandfather she still has these dreams but instead of being the same few dreams she begins to dream of strangers and new acquaintances being killed. Throughout the story Devon is always so scary for Sabrina despite everyone saying he isn’t real. The problem is that the dreams Sabrina is having start coming true which makes it seem that Devon must be real.
   Then Riley comes in to her life and helps her to cope with her new world. Riley is a friend and employee of Sabrina’s grandfather and the two of them are drawn to each other immediately. He helps her to readjust to the world but he also has secrets of his own that tie him to Sabrina. Their relationship is very sweet and he is just the person Sabrina needs to help her heal.
   I really enjoyed much of the book. Sabrina is a great character and you can’t help but be drawn in to her story emotionally. She has so much to overcome once she is out in the real world and the things that cause her the most anxiety are things that most of us wouldn’t think twice about. The relationship between Sabrina and her grandfather, Carl, is very sweet. Here is this older man who has been single most of his life and he agrees to take in the granddaughter he has never met and who is ‘crazy’. He provides her with both a home and a family. It is very endearing to see him become a real grandfather to Sabrina. The thing I enjoyed the most about the book was Devon. Even at the end of the book you are left wondering if he is real or just a figment of Sabrina’s imagination. It leaves you wanting a sequel so that you can find out the real story of Devon.
   While I enjoyed this book and its unique story there were definitely some issues that I had with the book. The first and most prominent is the fact that the book could really use more editing. There were several instances where it seemed that the author was trying to rewrite a sentence but did not remove all of the words that needed to go. Even a simple reading of the new sentence should have been enough to spot the problems. The other issue I had with the book has to do with content. I am very conservative and believe that teen books should not have adult themes. This book contains a lot of extreme language and the relationship between Riley and Sabrina is very sexual. I understand that this does not bother most people but to me it takes away from the story. I believe if the author took some time to at least do another edit the book could be much better.
   *I was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

Parent guide: There is frequent course language throughout the book. Sabrina and Riley share a very intimate relationship. The sexuality is not explicit but is very prominent. Sabrina's dreams can be very disturbing and intense. These dreams are all about gruesome deaths at the hands of her demonic-like dead brother. They are definitely not for younger readers!

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