Verdict: Fablesque and moving.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Genre: Speculative, Literary Fiction
Published by Simon & Schuster UK/ Scribner, February 7th, 2019
The eagerly awaited new novel from the author of The Age of Miracles.
Imagine a world where sleep could trap you, for days, for weeks, months… A world where you could even die of sleep rather than in your sleep.
Karen Thompson Walker’s second novel is the stunning story of a Californian town’s epidemic of perpetual sleep.
I love literary fiction with a speculative twist (I don’t think anybody is surprised to hear that) and I heard absolutely amazing things about this book before starting it. The book does a wonderful way of depicting a potential world-ending plague without the bells and whistles of post-apocalyptic fiction. Set in a fictional college town in California where one after the other people start falling asleep and not waking up again, this book has a fairy-talesque mood that I just adored.
For me the book worked best in the overarching moments, when the narrative flits between different people and never comes close enough to add humanity to them. I found the prose in those sections stunning and the distance created worked really well for me. Here it read more like a parable than a classical science fiction book and I just loved this a whole lot. I adored how the authors opened up the closed narrative to give glimpses of the outside world and her depiction of the greater world’s reaction to the unknown illness was believable.
Karen Thompson Walker emphasizes the relationship between parents and their children, which I obviously enjoyed, but my favourite relationship was that between two sisters who were left alone after their doomsday-prepper father succumbs to the illness. Sibling relationships are a particular weakness of mine and those two sisters felt very real. I do think that the book was not always successful when changing gear from the birds-eye perspective to a more closely observed narrative style, but I enjoyed the reading experience immensely nonetheless.
I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Simon & Schuster UK (Scribner) in exchange for an honest review.