SOMEONE ELSE WILL
she tells herself.
SOMEONE ELSE WILL DIE
AND I WILL BE RESPONSIBLE.
A few days after the first time you
walk in your sleep, you kill someone.
That's how the end begins.
Emma Montgomery has been having gruesome nightmares. Even worse, when she wakes up, she isn't where she was when she fell asleep. And she's not the only one. One by one the students of Saint Opportuna High start having nightmares, and sleepwalking. And the next morning one of their classmates turns up dead.
Something is making them kill in their sleep. Emma and her friends need to band together, to keep themselves awake until they can figure out what's behind the murders--before anyone else dies.
Thomas Fahy, author of The Unspoken, which Pubishers Weekly called, "a page-turner that just might keep readers up at night," again brings readers a nail-bitingly horrifying novel.
Sleepless reads like a horror movie converted into a fast-paced novel. Dark, mysterious, and quite grisly in many places, this novel manages to simultaneously entertain and horrify. Events unfold fairly quickly: for some reason, a group of students are murdering others while asleep. And of course, since murder is a very bad thing, they've got to do everything they can to stop their bodies from engaging in homicide while they're unconscious. This includes unearthing the reason behind their behavior as well as massive amounts of sleep deprivation--hence the title.
Sleepless is written in third-person present tense, which may prove jarring to many readers at first. When I first started the novel, the prose came off as disjointed and self-aware, probably due to the present tense. Don't get me wrong--I LOVE present tense in a book*. In Sleepless though, it took some time to get used to--I'd say the first sixty pages or so, I felt like something was a bit off. But once I'd settled into the book, I couldn't stop reading.
I think it's partly because I was in shock. I almost never watch horror movies, and the extent of my "scary" reading only reaches to a tattered copy of Poe's short stories*. So I've never read anything quite like Sleepless: graphic, bloody, horrifying, and chilling. Many of the characters wake up to find that their vivid dreams of killing somebody--which Fahy does not shy away from describing in full detail--have come true.
Fahy certainly gets points for coming up with such a chilling premise--after all, what's freakier than killing a classmate or friend while you're asleep? It's the very concept of innocent murder and loss of control that proves to be so disturbing. The premise of this book was definitely the best part--but on the flip side, it didn't allow for much depth in terms of character development or themes. I didn't really connect with any of the characters, or feel that much sympathy for their plight. The bottom line is that Sleepless is pretty much action, action, action, all the way through. Oh, and lots of dead bodies. If you're looking for a gripping read, Sleepless certainly fulfills these requirements.
Despite this, I have a big beef with the ending. For some reason, Sleepless didn't hold my interest as much towards the last fifty pages or so, once the book dived headfirst into a voodoo-Katrina/New Orleans-revelation. The climax was in the same vein as the rest of this book: unashamedly violent and brutal. It's the resolution that is lacking since it literally felt as if the printers had made a mistake and not included the last ten pages of denouement.
After reading Sleepless, I was left unsatisfied, if not a bit shell-shocked. I think the cover is absolutely amazing--so eery and shiversome. I'll be honest, it's what made me pick up this book.
I'd be perfect if I could close with: Sleepless left me sleepless, afraid that I'd scuttle around town mass murdering innocents if I so much as closed my eyes. But unfortunately, it wouldn't be truthful--I actually dreamt of chocolate bunnies and rainbows after I'd finished.
I give it a 7.25 ***
*especially first person present: Hunger Games and Cracked Up to Be are some extraordinarily well-written examples offthe top of my head. The best third-person present I've read is Wake.
**he writes pretty disturbing stuff, but it isn't exactly scary. If you want proof that drugs totally mess up your mind, read some of Poe's stories.
*** I knowknowknow, it's bad that I've resorted to .25s now. I';m not sure this quite deserves a 7.5 though.