Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sleepless by Thomas Fahy

Published August 11, 2009.

Author website.

SOMEONE ELSE WILL DIE SOON she tells herself. 


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.  (

There's a reason that NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, despite all of it's cheesiness, is, at its very core, frightening: because Freddie attacks people in their dreams, in their sleep, when they're at their most vulnerable.  SLEEPLESS also tapped into that inherent attack method and it's why I think, even despite my ultimate disconnect with the story, it's still scary.  Sleeping is something a person just can't not do.  You have to sleep but that's also where you're being attacked and there's nothing you can do to prevent it.  Anyone that doesn't think that's scary to at least some degree is lying.  Liars!

Don't get me wrong; I liked SLEEPLESS.  But there was something there keeping me from really connecting with the story, most likely the way it was told.  It was third person limited and flipped between Emma and Jake throughout the book but it wasn't necessarily the POV that did it.  I think it had more to do with the mechanical, almost dry execution of the story that kept me at bay.  It kept me interested but I've been interested in newspaper articles too.  It was more of a recounting of events with little effort at trying to make me scared.  For a horror novel that's a pretty big deal.  I WANT to be scared when I read horror.  That's why I read it.  Yeah, it's masochistic but quite frankly I liked being scared.  If horror doesn't scare me then it's failed it's most integral part.  I couldn't even feign frightened.  Yes, the things happening to the kids was scary but I didn't feel it.  I just read the story and carried on.

The New Orleans event laced throughout the book dragged on a bit too long without coming to its useful point.  I get the technique but I don't think it worked to the story's advantage here.  Of course it kept me reading but I was more annoyed with it toying with me than anything else.  I wanted to know HOW it was relevant and it kept teasing me for chapters.  I was irked.  It ultimately wove itself in but it didn't end up being what I thought it could be.  It slid down a more more cliched route that ended up being a bit contrived.  No vengeance or cover-ups or anything like that.  The ending was really ho-hum and a bit of a disappointment.

I liked Emma and Jake as characters.  They were both probably the best parts of the book.  They were just really well-fleshed out characters that I felt came alive on the page.  I believed their actions, their words and how they made everything unfold around them.  It worked.  I think SLEEPLESS could have been an amazing horror story if the rest of the elements around Jake and Emma were as finely tuned as they were, not to mention the story would have been better if it ended up being something BIGGER than what it was.  Again, disappointment, but Jake and Emma were good, with Emma taking the lead despite everything going against her.  She was the glue of the group, making things happen instead of waiting for them to happen.  If I knew I was about to kill someone in my sleep I'd like to think I'd take the same initiative and do something about it instead of just cowering in the corner.  No cowering for Emma.  Always a plus.

I think someone not as attuned to horror would find SLEEPLESS far scarier than I did but seeing how desensitized to it I am it fell kind of flat in the scare department.  I wish it were scarier for me because it would have been amazing!  I liked almost everything I was reading.  All that was missing was me being scared.  But it had just enough elements (like the execution of the voice) going against that amazingness to bring it down to something that was decent to read but didn't instill the horror like it should have.  It will make you think twice about sleeping, and watching slides, I'm sure but the ending didn't lend itself to anything greater than another teen horror cliche.  I liked it but that's about it.

Ban Factor: High - Kids are dropping dead all over this novel, not to mention there's some boob grabbing of the unmarried variety as well.  The banners would squeal.
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