Imagine if the recent Great Panic financial crisis of 2008 was accompanied by a realization that an illness had spread across the population. On top of the subprime meltdown, a devastating illness has left a huge portion of the population unable to sleep. It takes about a year of zombie-like existence for the sleepless to die. The world has fallen into chaos, isolation and martial law. Sleepless is set in this post-apocalyptic Los Angeles.
The two protagonists in Sleepless are Park, an undercover cop, and Japser, a “fixer.” Park is trying to uncover an illegal trade in DR33M3R, a drug that eases the suffering of those with the sleepless disorder. Park’s wife has contracted the disease and the health of their infant daughter is unknown.
Jasper is cold-blooded, methodical killer. His life is strictly ordered. The opposite of chaos. He moves tangentially in the book to Park, but you know they will somehow meet. And that the meeting will not be over milk and cookies.
I’m not a big fan of using multiple protagonists to tell a story. It’s hard for the author to portray the different viewpoints and even harder for the reader to figure out whose eye they are looking through. Sleepless suffers from a little of that at the beginning, but the differences between the protagonists become greater and more apparent as the book progresses.
The book is not light and fluffy. It’s dark. Not as spine-tingling dark as The Road. (That book gave me a physical reaction of dread when I read it.)
Huston tells a compelling, scary, intriguing and gut-wrenching story that will keep you up late into the night reading it.
So far in my goal of 52 books for the year, Sleepless is number 24 on the books I’ve read in 2010.