Strange things happened When She Woke

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan is futuristic take on the classic Nathaniel Hawthorne book, The Scarlet Letter.

And it was really really cool and strange.  But only for the first 50% of the book.  Then it got a little too twisty-turny for my taste.

Hannah is a religious girl in a futuristic time when there is a virus that makes the majority of women infertile.  Because of this, many religious laws are created in order to protect the sanctity of life.

Remind anyone else of The Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood?

Hannah becomes romantically involved with her (married) pastor, who also just happens to be one of the most successful men in America at the time.  When she realizes she is pregnant, she breaks the law in order to have an abortion (they repealed Roe v. Wade).

Hannah is found out, convicted, and sentenced to be a Red, with her skin dyed in order to single her out as someone who committed murder.

Like I said, the first 50% of the book was amazing and kept me on the edge of my seat.  It was a fabulous cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and The Scarlet Letter!

But then the book fell apart for me.  The twists and turns were too much, and at some point I stopped believing them.

That’s just me, though!  The book is rated a 3.7ish on Goodreads, and it’s worth taking a chance on if this concept sounds as intriguing to you as it did to me.

What are your thoughts on post-apocalyptic fertility stories?

Just kidding!

Have you read any of these books (Handmaid’s Tale, Scarlet Letter, When She Woke)?


Interested in getting your own copy? Check it out on Amazon & IndieBound. I get a small percentage if you purchase from those links, and it doesn’t cost you any extra.


36 thoughts on “Strange things happened When She Woke

  1. I’ve read The Handmaid’s Tale, The Scarlet Letter and When She Woke and loved them all. I was thinking that when I read WSW it was going to be a series or have a sequel. I read it about a year ago so I forget. Did you feel like it was set up to be a possible series?


    • That actually wasn’t a thought that crossed my mind, but it’s so complicated that I could see it becoming a series. Because the entire dystopia was not fixed, which could happen. Hmm. . . good thinking question.


  2. I think this book may mean more in many ways. A married pastor having an affair is just one of them. An indictment on what is happening these days, at least in my country. Also a big indictment on Christianity and the way it is interpreted. Great review, Rebecca


    • You are so right. It’s deep and immoral and deals with a lot of those issues. Which is why I just loved it, until the twists and turns started coming every few pages. It just got to be too much for me and too far away from the original story of The Scarlet Letter (like what you mentioned above) that I was enjoying.


  3. Oooo that actually sounds really interesting! I never read The Scarlet Letter because it seemed a bit too… infuriating? I don’t know. But I do love The Handmaid’s Tale and I think the fact that this book kind of brings up the issue of abortion is really cool.


    • Yes, it deals with a lot of interesting topics. And yeah, The Scarlet Letter can be infuriating (women treated unequally to men for one, total double standard) but that stuff actually makes the book great for discussion. So maybe if you decide to read Scarlet, you can tackle it with a friend so you have someone to discuss with.


  4. Ooooh! The Handmaid’s Tale is one of my all time favorites! The Scarlet Letter and I had our disagreements, but it wasn’t a story thing so much as a “my English teacher is asking me to dissect the symbolism of the flower bushes…” I might have to give this a shot!


  5. I am so glad that you reviewed this book. It was one of my favorite reads this year. I found it very intriguing with enough twists and turns to keep me interested. I admit to liking books with more action than description. I also like books that are just a little different. I haven’t read “The Handmaid’s Tale” but it is on my “to read” list.


  6. The subject choices must be at once fascinating and quite spooky. I’ve overlooked this one many times – I judged by the cover… – but I’m wanting to read Atwood’s book and this sounds a good one to continue with.


  7. I haven’t read this book but it sounds like an interesting premise. I do know that with anything futuristic or post-apocalyptic it is easy for things to go so strange they loose touch with the normal reader. Thanks for the review!


    • It sounds like many people loooooved all the twists and turns, even the ones that just became a little too much for me. But the concept of this book is just so unique and interesting, it kept me hooked.


  8. I’ve read both of the classics. I taught The Scarlet Letter and found through discussion with students that they just didn’t understand the culture Hester Prynne lived in…it was almost like make believe to them. I think a story that takes the futuristic opposite twist would outrage them properly…changing the culture they’re used to. It would make them think anyway.

    This premise reminds me of the YA books Unwind and Unwholly, where life is sacred so abortion is illegal. At teenage-hood a parent can choose to “unwind” their child, which means the organs are given to others and technically, the teenager lives on in others (that is a very rough, short summary). Some children are born just for this purpose…stem cells anyone? I like when stories tie in relevantly to the culture, or turn in on end as a what if?


  9. I’ve been wanting to read this books for a while now! Thanks for the reminder! The Handmaid’s Tale was my first Margaret Atwood and I was blown away by it. I’d never really read anything like it, apart from 1984.
    I’m definitely still going to give this book a go, even if the twists do get a bit much! Thanks for the review 🙂


    • I agree that it’s worth reading. It sounds like people are mixed about it: some LOVE all of the twists, while others feel like me that the twists became too much. Either way, it’s going to keep you interested until the end for sure!


  10. I’ve read and loved both The Handmaid’s Tale and The Scarlet Letter. This one sounds a bit too wacky for me 😉 But I really liked her other book, Mudbound. It was TOTALLY different from this!


    • Okay, I’ll check out Mudbound! The book is wacky, but not in a cheesy way, more like dystopian but with twists and turns. And about half of the people who comment that have read it enjoyed those twists and turns, and the other half thought it was too much, like me.


  11. I’m still to read The Scarlet letter and The Handmaid’s Tale, so I cannot make that comparison. I like the idea of dyeing people Red if they’ve committed murder, abortion to me is just that. Others might disagree…


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