Monday, July 29, 2013

Insomnia by JR Johansson: a review

Her eyes saved his life.
Her dreams released his darkness.

After four years of sleeplessness, high school junior Parker Chipp can't take much more. Every night, instead of sleeping, he enters the dreams of the last person he's made eye contact with. If he doesn't sleep soon, Parker will die.

Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that is utterly addictive. But what starts out as a chance meeting turns into an obsession; Parker's furious desire for what he needs pushes him to extremes he never thought he'd go. And when someone begins to terrorizing Mia with twisted death threats, Parker's memory blackouts leave him doubting his own innocence.

My Review:

This is another instance of How the Hell Did This Book Sit on the TBR Pile for a month??? I kept getting distracted by other, more hyped books with shiny covers that ultimately failed to live up to their promise (3 DNF’s in as many weeks. Eeesh.) And this book was right there. All along. 

Seriously, guys, I don’t squee very often, but Insomnia is a gem.

It's a tightly plotted, fast-paced read.  From page one you’re dropped into the world in Parker’s head, and it’s not a very happy place to be. Parker just realized he’s slowly dying from sleep deprivation as he struggles to keep up with school, social life and soccer practice. Then he almost hits a girl with his car, and after making eye contact with her, he can sleep for the first time in four years.

The next day he realizes the girl is new in school, and from there on he’ll stop at nothing to make eye contact with her every day. Pretty soon he’s hooked and goes to increasingly desperate lengths… until even he doesn’t know what he’s capable of anymore.

First of all, Parker.

As I was reading the first chapters of Insomnia, a feeble hope started to blossom in my weary soul. Could it be? Really? And then I get to Chapter 9…
Ladies and gentlemen, an ANTIHERO!!!!

It’s not just that he’s the first YA antihero I’ve read in AGES (I’m talking about paranormal, not contemporary YA here)-- he’s so well written. He’s conflicted and a self-loathing mess. He’s struggling with addiction (to sleeping in Mia’s dreams…yeah. Creepy. In a good way.) And he has a dark side. A real dark side, as in, he actually does bad things. He alienates his family and friends and the girl he likes, his life is slowly slipping away... but in spite of everything, you can’t help but root for him.

The supporting cast is well-developed: Finn, Parker’s longtime crush Addie, and Mia—I especially liked Mia and wished she got more screen time. I won’t spoiler but her backstory is so tragic that I just wanted to give the poor girl a hug. And that's before the events of the book happened… yikes.

My one problem was the ending (if you don’t want minor spoilers stop reading here!). It was a good ending, and looking back I realize it was well built up to. It’s just that… I don’t know. Up until then, Insomnia had a dark paranormal, borderline horror feel to it—and the ending was more contemporary thriller. I expected it to be more… paranormal in nature, I guess? The novel is centered around Parker and his frightening gift/curse, so I expected it to play a major role in the big reveal. And it sort of… didn’t.

(Otherwise, it would have been one of those rare five star books. And I rated The 5th Wave four!!)

Still, there’s much sequel material in the end, and I’m guessing the plotline of Parker’s ability will get more development.

Also… is it just me or do I sense an Addie/Parker/Mia love triangle in the future? Or maybe I just want it to happen really badly. I’m so tired of all the two-hot-guys-fight-over-the-heroine love triangles.

Overall: this was an excellent, gripping read. Solid 4,5 stars. 

Nicole River is confused about writing her bio in third person. She's an aspiring author of edgy YA horror and an appreciator of all things dark and spooky. Her own blog is here. Or you can always follow her on Twitter

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