Tuesday, September 14, 2010

REVIEW: Sleepless

SleeplessBalog, C.  (2010).  Sleepless.  New York:  Delacorte Press.

215 pages.

Appetizer:  Julia doesn't dream very often.  Still, the sandman assigned to her, Eron DeMarchelle, a seventeen-year-old who died almost a century ago, must "seduce" her to allow her to fall asleep each night.  He has been a sleep bringer for almost a century.  And now he has a chance at becoming human again.

But first Eron has to train his replacement, Griffin, Julia's prankster boyfriend who died unexpectedly.  As Julia struggles to move on with her life, still sensing that Griffin is somehow near,  she must face unwanted advances from Brett, Griffin's best friend.  While Julia doesn't sense any danger from her only remaining friend, both Eron and Griffin do and they must find a way to work together to protect Julia, or battle one another for her heart, without risking their own futures.

To share the story, the chapters switch back and forth between Eron and Julia's perspectives.  I was impressed by how distinct their voices were, how well written the book was and how well-planned the plotting was.  So much of the book deals with the quiet tensions and desires that drive the characters slowly toward conflict.

Also, the initial scene really drew me in.  Julia wakes to a phone call from a journalist asking for an obituary quote about Griffin.  Julia assumes this is one of Griffin's many pranks, so her comments are far from complimentary.  It's only after a second journalist calls that Julia suspects this isn't a joke.  It was hard to stop reading, even though it was well after midnight.

There were a lot of great details throughout the book.  Since Julia is about to turn sixteen, she has to practice driving with her mom, who "

This reminded me a lot of my own driving practice.  My dad would stomp his foot whenever he thought I should use the break.  My mom, in a tragedy of opposites, would sit in the back seat reading, pretending I was her chauffeur.  Whenever I tried to rouse her from her book with a question like "Mommy!  Help what do I do?  I'm so scared I'm going to kill us both right now?!" she'd grudgingly look up and say, "I don't know," or "Can you stop at the Starbucks so I can get a toffee nut latte?"

No, I would not stop at Starbucks for a toffee nut latte.

If I have to drive, she have to suffer through being caffeine-deprived.

And now I wonder why I still occasionally get feelings of anxiety about driving.


And back to our regularly scheduled book review....

I can see why this book is getting positive reviews all around the blog-town.  But as I continued to read, the narration started to raise a lot of red flags that it was sending unhealthy messages.

For example:

"I swallow, trying to remember if I ever told him where I work.  No, I'm pretty sure I didn't. There are four hundred stores in this mall, and yet he manages to get a job at my place of employment?  This is all too creepy.  But my heart begins to flutter.  Those dark eyes.  That stubble-dotted movie-star jawline...This guy could be a serial killer, yet my ticker is still screaming, "Bring it on!" (pp. 133-134).

Tell me, Few But Dear Readers, how do you feel about that little excerpt?

Ever since the Twilight series became popular, it seems that having a stalker has been the cool thing to do in paranormal YA romances.  This makes me more than a little uncomfortable since, some of the time, the stalker is the good romantic lead.  Icky.  Now, I can understand the appeal of a romantic character who wants nothing more than to protect and save the girl.  I can also understand the metaphor of how taking a chance and loving someone can feel like a great risk, like you're putting yourself in danger.  And I know that most of these books are viewed to be fun escapes from reality for the readers.  But I'm still more than a little worried about the messages stalker literature sends to the tweens who devour these books and then wonder where their Stalker-Edward is.  Remember when I showed you this?

Fun times.

So, to help navigate the stalker trend, Monica and I have come up with this...


You'll notice that Sleepless is in the middle of the scale.  That's right kids, this is a well-done and only "pretty creepy" approach to stalker-ism.  Sure, Eron crouches outside Julia's window and watches her sleep, but when he does it, it's not because he's already obsessed with her, it's his job and he knows that it's wrong and he even feels a little bad about it.

...I can't believe I just typed that.

Griffin on the other hand, has a creep element.  Somebody is a little too excited to get into the ladies' bedrooms without their knowledge.

Admittedly, the more I read of the book, the creepier all three potential love interests became.  And Julia's reactions to them didn't help matters.  Here's kind of the boiled down version of the way the guys perceived Julia and her reactions to them:

Eron:  Julia, you are virtuous and fragile.  I must protect you!
Julia:  Eron, you are stalkery and strange.  Kiss my hand again!  *she randomly falls down and starts bleeding*

Griffin:  Julia, you are mine!  I must protect you!!!!!!!!
Julia:  Griffin, you are dead.  I am yours!

Brett:  Julia, you are sexy!  Hold still while I kiss you passionately!
Julia:  Brett, you are scaring me.  But you are Griffin's best friend and are pathetic.  I will hold still while you rape-kiss me multiple times.


Few But Dear Readers, it's such a difficult decision!  Which guy to choose?!  And it only kinda-sorta sends tragically awful messages about female agency.


Dinner Conversation:

"Griffin Colburn knew something was wrong the moment he slid into the driver's seat.
It was a twinge.  Nothing more.  He shook his head, blinked.  Pushed it off" (p. 1).

"You can ring my be-e-ell, ring my bell!"
My eyes flicker open.  All I see is a pink satin pillow, which I've clamped over my face to block out the rest of the world.  When I remove it, I recoil in the morning sunlight like the undead and crane my neck to check the clock at my bedside.
9:20 a.m.  Oh, hell no" (p. 4).

"My first and only boyfriend is so dead" (p. 7).

"If Mama, God rest her soul, could see me now, crouching outside the window of a girl's house, in this tree, she would surely rise from her grave and swat the life clean out of me.  And I agree with her; this is no place for a man.  But that is one thing I am not.
At least not yet.
Watching the bedtime ritual of a woman from a clandestine post is perfectly acceptable behavior for us Sleepbringers, known as Sandmen to humans.  In fact, I watch more than one woman every night.  I'm sure Mama would get out the belt if she knew that.  It's not proper human behavior, so it was a struggle even for me to grasp.  After all, I still appear human, and one's human sensibilities are difficult simply to disregard.  Even now I'm not entirely comfortable with stalking women in the dark, though I've been carrying out this seduction for nearly a hundred years.  I'm about as used to it as I'll ever be" (p. 8).

Tasty Rating:  !!

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