Ember Leferrier has been a patient in a hospital for eight long months, after nearly dying in a car accident. As she packs her belongings into cardboard boxes to head for home, she feels either like a Frankenstein monster (patched together, with plenty of scars) or as unreal as a ghost. She is also oddly terrified --- not really ready to return to her interrupted life, although she reminds herself it's just her boring old home with her comfortable parents. Because of her brain injuries, Ember can't recall anything about the accident. In addition, she's lost about six weeks of memories right before the wreck. While her doctor assures her this is normal, and that she may or may not regain those memories, it's unnerving to rely on what others tell her about herself. It makes her feel even less real.
"LOUD AWAKE AND LOST is a fantastically gripping page-turner (seriously, if you don't have the time to read this pretty much straight through, don't start it...)"
Home in the familiar brownstone, so much feels as it has always been. Yet, when Ember enters her bedroom, she knows immediately that things are just not right. Something is strange, starting with the fancy art pens she doesn't recall seeing before. Then she does something she can't explain: she picks up a silver pen and writes a sideways "A" on her hand. Next, she finds a ticket stub for a German movie and a business card for a dance club called Areacode. These discoveries ring no bells and make no sense, including a big poster for a band called Weregirl. Ember starts hyperventilating, but luckily her best friend Rachel Smart (Smarty) arrives to distract her. Her comfort with her buddy doesn't last long, though, as Smarty begins to drop references to Ember's actions in the weeks leading up to her accident. Ember feels no connection to the Ember that Smarty is describing, adding to her feelings of unreality. Who is she? Who was she?
Meanwhile, Ember returns to school where she struggles to keep up with her classwork. Because of her injuries, her dancing days are over…yet another part of her identity that has vanished. She must go to the torture sessions known as "physical therapy," but when she dozes through the right stop one day, she instead impulsively heads out to check out the Areacode dance club. There, she meets a guy named Kai, who is magnetically attractive. Ember and Kai instantly form an intense connection, kissing and promising to meet again. But why doesn't Kai call her? What is it about him that is so mysterious and elusive?
LOUD AWAKE AND LOST is a fantastically gripping page-turner (seriously, if you don't have the time to read this pretty much straight through, don't start it. I could not put it down to attend to those incidental "real life" expectations and obligations). Ember is a fully-realized person readers are sure to empathize with and root for as she picks apart the puzzle of her existence. Although savvy readers may solve one of Ember's main mysteries before she does, this is part of the fun and doesn't distract one iota from the enjoyment of this well-plotted, many-layered thriller.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on November 21, 2013