MG With A Kick: Wake Up Missing, Kate Messner

Wake Up Missing

Wake Up Missing

Kate Messner

Meet Quentin, a middle school football star from Chicago… 
Sarah, an Upstate New York girls’ hockey team stand-out… 
Ben, a horse lover from the Pacific Northwest…
And Cat, an artistic bird watcher from California. 

The four have nothing in common except for the head injuries that land them in an elite brain-science center in the Florida Everglades. It’s known as the best in the world, but as days pass, the kids begin to suspect that they are subjects in an experiment that goes far beyond treating concussions….and threatens their very identities. They’ll have to overcome their injuries – and their differences – to escape, or risk losing themselves forever.

For a middle-grade novel, Wake Up Missing packs quite a punch, with brains, genetics, a secret lab, and a sinister plot in this heavy science-fiction mystery novel. The younger narrators aren’t a hindrance to such an ambitious book in any way, as some might be worried about, but to me, the concept of the book was a little improbable, and that took away some of the impact I would’ve liked to have felt.

Summary: All Cat wants is to recover from her severe concussion and return to her normal life. But her brain is stubborn, and so when word comes around of one of the world’s top brain centers, she and her mom have their hopes renewed. Maybe, just maybe, going for treatment at I-CAN will save her and bring back the girl she once was. But soon she realizes that I-CAN isn’t the brain haven she once thought it was, and together with the other patients, she discovers an evil plan that has the power to change them into someone they’re not… and destroy the world.

I went into this not knowing that it was actually part middle-grade, part young adult, so that may have contributed a little to the fact that I found it lacking the depth I usually see in YA novels. Still, there’s no denying that Messner had a very cool, very original — albeit a bit unrealistic — idea coming along here. The brain has always been a fascinating subject for me (though I don’t know much about it other than what my bio book tells me!), and it was quite disappointing when it wasn’t explored as much as I would’ve liked. Don’t get me wrong: there were still enough science fiction elements to satisfy me, like genes and DNA and some brain-treatment technologies I never knew existed, but on the whole, I wanted more.

There were also several plot holes that I wanted answered, like, if I-CAN already had other patients prior to Cat, Quentin, Sarah, and Ben, and if they’d mysteriously disappeared, why did no one try to find them? Call the cops? Do something? Also, why are children the only test subjects? Why not adults? Wouldn’t adults, especially those who live by themselves and don’t have anyone worrying about them, be a whole lot more convenient? I also wanted the mystery surrounding one of the doctors to have been more clearly explained, but it wasn’t.

Character-wise, though, the author did a pretty good job. I’ve noticed that MG books seem to lack characterization — the characters sound the same and act the same, but for Wake Up Missing, the characters were all very well defined. I didn’t get them mixed up once, and never doubted how real they were. However, Cat’s stiff and slightly emotionless narration prevented me from actually getting attached to them, which was a shame, because I would’ve liked to understand how they were truly feeling.

But overall, Wake Up Missing was a fairly decent book that I enjoyed, and while the characters weren’t really memorable, the idea behind the plot definitely was (holes aside). Wake Up Missing would be fun to curl up with on a rainy day, and if you’re looking for a quick read!

Who is this book for?

Readers looking for a “deeper” middle-grade novel and with some crazy sci-fi elements.

3 stars

272 pages, e-galley from NetGalley (thank you!)
Published September 10, 2013 by Walker Childrens
Purchase: The Book Depository + Amazon

Po flickered. “Thank you?” it repeated. “What is that?”

Liesl thought. “It means, You were wonderful,” she said. “It means, I couldn’t have done it without you.”
– Liesel and Po, Lauren Oliver


10 thoughts on “MG With A Kick: Wake Up Missing, Kate Messner

  1. This book seems interesting but aww, I hate plot holes! I think the plot holes would drive me mad and prevent me from enjoying this one! The genetics/brain/DNA elements seem really interesting but I’m not sure how long I would survive reading a book with a lack of character depth. Great review! 🙂

  2. Plot holes are never fun, but I find them to be quite common in MG stories. Like it’s okay to cut corners for younger readers. That aside, this sounds like an intriguing book, and one that features sci-fi in a different way than normal.

  3. Plot holes drive me nuts. And your point about adults being less conspicuous if they went missing highlights a problem I’ve had with quite a few books lately: unbelievable setups or plot devices for the sake of convenience (or to shoehorn the book into a certain age category).

    Though it sounds interesting, I hadn’t actually heard of this one… but then I haven’t been on NetGalley in ages as they haven’t approved the last few requests I’ve made (I guess the number of negative reviews on my site scared them or something)!

  4. I am a fan of Middle Grade novels, Percy Jackson made sure of that so sometimes when I know I’m reading MG, plot holes don’t bother me.

    Lovely review, Meg! <33

  5. I never would have guessed by the cover that this is a MG book. It doesn’t look MG to me at all. I don’t think this is the book for me, but it’s good to hear that the characters are all well-developed. Poorly developed characters can ruin a book.

  6. *looks at end of post* Oh my gosh, is that quote from Liesl & Po? I love that book!

    I love MG novels, though I don’t read them as much as I do YA. There is just something so adventurous and fun about them. Also, it’s just really awesome to see kids around my age kick butt 😛 And, uh… “Brains, genetics, a secret lab, and a sinister plot…” <— Heck yes!

    I'm not a fan of plot-holes, but the story sounds entertaining enough for me to forgive them a little. I mean, a Destroy the World plot that involves brains? Sign me up! I am a little worried about the stiff and slightly emotionless narration, though. I can't enjoy a story without connecting to the characters easily.

    However, I am happy about the characters themselves being well-developed! I don't usually encounter MG novels with cookie-cutter characters that act the same, but I always enjoy good characters 🙂 And really, I just need to get back into the MG genre. (Is Harry Potter MG? I think it is. If so, I guess I already am getting back into the MG genre!)

    Great review, Meg! By the way, I need to say this: Are you also a little amused by the name I-CAN? Because I am.

  7. Uh I would never in million years assume that this is a half middle grade book. I mean the characters fit that idea but the whole concept of the story sounds too complicated. Anyhow I love how unique that sound. I don’t mind how unrealistic it sounds still I like the idea. The plot-holes are always a turn off even though the characters sound great still I’d mind missing emotions in storytelling. Great review 🙂

  8. Part middle-grade, part-YA? Interesting! I’ve read some of those before, but I never thought to describe them as part-MG. Huh; clever thinking. 🙂

    Yay for awesome characters! Good characters are a definite MUST, but it’s sad that you couldn’t connect to them. 😦

    And I have a major problem with plot holes. I pick out plot holes in TV shows too and it annoys the heck out of me.

    Great review!

  9. Oh yay! I’ve seen this on NG months ago but I didn’t consider requesting it. I wasn’t attracted to the synopsis. If i had known that this is part MG, part YA then I would’ve requested it. I think I am the only blogger –who is already nearing 30 and still single– who loves reading MG novels.

    Wow. I am really happy to know that the characters of this book are fleshed out. You are so correct about a lot of MG characters not fully developed. I think it’s more of a rule than an exception. Most of the time, when I read and review MG books, I am not so particular with character development because they really suck. And once I started hating cookie cutter characters, my reading experience would already be ruined and trust me to write a negative review. Hahaha. But because it’s MG,I try to be lenient with characters. As long as the book is funny then it will have a chance of getting my 5 star rating. But this one, it’s just wow.

    What a shame about the plot holes. x_x I love how you broke it down, Meg. If this is not a sci-fi book, those points can easily be overlooked. But heck, this is sci-fi. It’s about understanding how things came to be on a scientific level. If I’m going to put this on my TBR list, I may have to weigh things up. Will characterization compensate for the plot holes? Is there enough humor in this book to make me overlook thos pesky ph? Is originality enough to make me sit down and read this book? Hahaha.

    Oh well, I am still happy that you enjoyed this one despite the holes. As for me, I will still have to think whether I’m going to give this book a try.

    Thanks for a very thorough review! 😀

  10. Pingback: Warp Drive Sunday: Oct 13 – Oct 19 | Adrift on Vulcan

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