Insomnia – J R Johansson
First – the cover, this cover is terrifying!
I was drawn to it because of the title, I get really bad insomnia which is why I wanted to read it, but the cover really freaks me out, I’m so glad I had a digital copy because catching sight of the bloodshot eye would have certainly kept me up at night.
So, the book, I gave this four stars on goodreads, which was perhaps a little generous, but before you jump on it, let me explain you a thing, those four stars were for the actual story, but if I were to judge the way that the story was told, it would have been more around the 2.5 – 3 mark in terms of a star rating. This had an amazing premise – here’s the blurb:
Instead of sleeping, Parker Chipp enters the dream of the last person he’s had eye contact with. He spends his nights crushed by other people’s fear and pain, by their disturbing secrets—and Parker can never have dreams of his own. The severe exhaustion is crippling him. If nothing changes, Parker could soon be facing psychosis and even death.
Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that is utterly addictive. Parker starts going to bizarre lengths to catch Mia’s eye every day. Everyone at school thinks he’s gone over the edge, even his best friend. And when Mia is threatened by a true stalker, everyone thinks it’s Parker.
Suffering blackouts, Parker begins to wonder if he is turning into someone dangerous. What if the monster stalking Mia is him after all?
My four star review was all for the originality of the story line. It’s an incredible idea and not one I’ve come across before, possibly the most original YA I’ve read in a while. I loved the story but the way it was told left me a bit like this:
If it were to iron out a few of the plot holes, it would really blow my mind. In fact, if you don’t mind the slightly sloppy, repetitive narrative and simplistic sentence structure then definitely give this a go for the story alone – it was so good and I’m annoyed it wasn’t edited better.
For those of you as pernickity as me, here are a few plot points that will hamper your enjoyment of this book:
FOUR YEARS?! Four years and no sleep? Why isn’t he already either dead or insane? And why are both these things bothering Parker now? I spent two years with practically no sleep and I was ready to call it quits after the first few weeks. How on earth did he manage four years? Fairly early on in the book, Parker visits a doctor who tells him that no sleep = death and even though he managed to live fairly normally for the past four years, finally he’s worried about dying. That didn’t make sense to me, surely he should have thought of that a long time ago. Actually, thinking about it, Parker was kind of irritating full stop, he’s very self involved and alienates himself from everyone who is trying to help him. Finn was by far my favourite character and I’d like more from him in the rest of the series. Did I mention it was a series? Well, it is, and I hope that in the continuation we see more with Parker’s hallucinations and the Darkness because that was super intense and so much more could have been done with it.
My only major flaw in terms of the story line was that I found it to be a little sexist. Many a mention is made of how bad the girls football team is and how much they need help from the boys. Parker constantly judges all the girls for being “silly” based on a handful dreams. He often says that he hasn’t got “time” for girls and the only one in the book shown with any hint of respect is Addie – this bugged me so much when reading it! Don’t be perpetuating inequality guys!
In short though, this was a brilliant idea that has a hell of a lot of potential. The narration could do with some editing which maybe sorted for the actual release, but other than that this was an awesome story which I hope flourishes through the rest of the series.