Monday, October 12, 2015
One random night, the vast majority of the world ceases to sleep. That first night, no one really notices. Everyone has a bad night once in a while. After the second night, people just don't know what to do. The sleepless have a limited amount of time before they go insane and die. After 6 sleepless days, the sleepless go psychotic. After four weeks, they will die. The sleepers always have the same dream: comforting golden light. After a while, the waking world seems dull and lifeless compared to their dream world. As time goes on, society collapses and the wait is on for the sleepless to die.
I picked this up because the concept sounded pretty cool. Sleep or lack thereof is not something I've seen as the cause of the apocalypse. The first three quarters of the novel is amazing. The first day, nothing really happens. People have rough nights and a lot of people figured that was the case. The second day, it's clear there's a problem when 90% of the world again doesn't sleep. They still try to go about their day to day lives, but it's hollow and meaningless. Everyone is just going through the motions. As the days go on, jobs are abandoned, hygiene goes out the window, and psychosis sets in. At first, everything is tense and then food and other necessities are suddenly extravagantly expensive. The sleepless are attacking others in the street. This part is the most intriguing of the novel. The sleepless start to hallucinate and become paranoid. They want someone or something to blame and the ones who still sleep are as good a target as any. A large faction of the sleepless join together in a cult to worship our protagonist, John who is a sleeper. He was writing a book about Nod, which these cultists see as a prediction of what was to come. So they overlook his sleeping (for now) and treat him like a prophet. Some of the sleepers are a group of feral children who never speak and this cult has targeted them as vermin to be killed. Another sleepless faction convinces themselves that they are sleepers and agree to help John save those sleeper children. In just a few days, the world is unrecognizable. The variety of sleepless was impressive. They aren't zombies, so each different person is going to handle that differently instead of all just going on a kill crazy spree.
While I enjoyed all the crazy people running around killing each other, I didn't like John very much and I didn't like the last bit of the novel. John is an introvert and doesn't like people, which would normally be fine, but he could have done a lot to save others. He mostly just lets himself be pushed around by some maniac when he could be off saving the child he sort of adopted. I think it's just the type of person he is, but everything was agonized over and he was forced into action because of outside forces instead of his own volition. The last bit of the novel just isn't satisfying and pales in comparison to the rest of the novel. I enjoyed it overall and I would read more by Adrian Barnes.
My rating: 4/5