Courtesy of Smash Attack ReadsINTEREST IN BOOK: If you’ve been paying attention, you know that Awaken was a book that spoke loudly to me. I was very wrapped up in the possibility of the scenario. I was also very affected by experiencing Maddie’s awakening, when Justin assists her in “unplugging.” It was beautiful to watch her reconnecting with her senses and experiencing emotions she never knew existed. Being that I’m a social worker, I understand how very important socialization and social support is for human beings, and this series really drives this point home.WORLD-BUILDING: The world expands in Middle Ground as Maddie endures a life-altering trip to a detention center for her rebellious behavior. In Maddie’s world, detention centers take care of those who are unwilling to remain plugged in and participate in a mostly-digital life. Digital School brought safety and security to society, at the cost of togetherness and intimacy. Maddie’s father is the creator of DS, so her involvement in the rebellion to bring intimacy back to society is quite the scandal. Maddie’s experience in the detention center is horrific and we learn a lot about what is being done to keep society in check. I think my only real issue with this scenario was how easy it was to sneak around inside the detention center. I get that security was low because they control the students psychologically, but it just seemed too easy…CHARACTERS: Maddie grew a lot in this installment. She was always brave and stubborn, but she really puts herself in serious danger to save many. I found myself rooting for her, then yelling at her, many times. She surprised me with her mature, selfless decisions, though I should not have been surprised. Maddie has always been willing to go the extra mile or 50 to do what is right. And then we have Justin. Geez. I might have to add Justin Solvi to the tippy top of respectable, amazing, glorious book boyfriends. I didn’t think I could adore him more, but I certainly do. What grabbed me most were his vulnerable moments. As Maddie pointed out numerous times, he certainly has issues letting people in and being intimate, and in Middle Ground, we learn why. Justin has been carrying around a lot of guilt and Maddie does her best to encourage him to remove the blanket of guilt and shame from his heart and soul. Those moments between them were so damn beautiful.Gabe is worth mentioning, as I find myself thinking a lot about him during this review. Gabe works in the detention center and was integral in the dangerous planning by Maddie, Justin, and gang. I think he was a huge part in keeping Maddie sane throughout the story. Of course, all the characters that have befriended Maddie throughout this series, and continue to fight the good fight with her, are great in their own ways. Love them.LASTING IMPRESSIONS: It appears that we are going to have a third book in this series, as Maddie leaves us hanging with yet another heavy decision that she must make. In the end, I know she will do what she feels is right for humanity, but she will not be bullied. She has become quite the strong heroine, and she and Justin will stand up and fight until the war is over. Together.