Title | Sleeper
Author | MacKenzie Cadenhead
Pages | 336
Series | None
Publisher | Sourcebooks FIRE
Release Date | August 2017
Find it on Goodreads and Amazon
Sarah’s dreams are everyone else’s nightmares in this thriller that perfectly combines Inception and Heathers
As a sufferer of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, Sarah acts out her dreams. Usually she’s only a danger to herself, but when she almost breaks her best friend’s neck at a sleepover, Sarah becomes a social pariah. Luckily (and stangely), Wes, a guy she’s only seen in her dreams, turns up at school and the two become inseparable.
An experimental drug offers a cure, but she and Wes soon realize that not only are they sharing the same dreams, they can now alter other people’s dreams. It’s clear that this new drug is offering a lot more than just sleep. Will Wes and Sarah choose responsibility…or revenge?
Admittedly, I have not been in the reading state-of-mind since before Christmas now. That’s a whole four months of inactivity and wishful thinking when looking at all the fabulous YA literature that has been released recently. So Sleeper had a lot to live up to in order to bring me out of the reading rut I’ve been in for so long. I must admit, this book was definitely out of my comfort zone. However, the fact I have finished the book – something I have not done for a while – is an achievement on its own. Perhaps I could describe Sleeper as interesting. Yes, let’s start with interesting.
In other words, don’t be an idiot like me.
What I adored about Sleeper was the sheer thrill of the whole story. The wonderful concept of a drug which enhances Sarah’s REM Sleep Behaviour Order was absolutely brilliant – and truly original. Pitched as a combination of Inception and Heathers (both things I haven’t got a bloody clue on), the book was a pleasant retreat away from the modern YA literature based around romantic adolescent adventures. Sleeper is gripping. The first chapter is a hook, and like a fish on a line, you are sold into what is going on. If you’ve read my previous reviews, you’ll understand this is something I adore in literature.
I would also like to shine a line on the tone of the novel. It was an incredibly easy read, and had it not been I probably would have struggled to read it all the way to the end. Despite having no communication with books over the past four months, I kept to my usual time of six to seven hours. There was no difficulty in reading it, making it a perfect read to give to a younger, more mature reader. Sleeper is also incredibly fast-paced. I like that. MacKenzie Cadenhead did not drag out any part of the book, and all chapters were relevant and interesting to read. This is a rare trait to find within a story, as there is so much emphasis on the building up on specific events.
”I mean it, Sarah. This is way better than a sex tape.”
Ah, that wonderful point in my review where I can mention characters. Sarah is ultimately a flawed character. I had a deep sympathy for her at the beginning of the story – partly because she has absolutely no control over her actions or the consequences. But as the story developed and she found power, the consumption turned her into a creature which did sicken me. Her actions were despicable, no matter how much they could be justified. The world would be a horrible place if we lived by the idea of ‘an eye for an eye’. I’m hoping that Ms Cadenhead was going for this affect. Of course, every character in the wrong seeks redemption, but I found it hard to award it considering her foolishness and behaviour.
Wes was a much harder pill to swallow – and yet, was a refreshing addition to the plot. There is a very British swear word I would love to use in describing Wes. But I’m above that, at least orally. The bad vibes were incredibly strong – intention, I know. And while I really, really, didn’t like Wes, it was nice to see the main guy not seen as some kind of hero. His flaws are laid out on the table, and are tackled quite maturely. Hats off Ms Cadenhead!
I want to know the instant he comes back to life. Because sooner or later, he will.
Summarising Sleeper, it was definitely an odd book. It has pulled me from my hangover (both book and physical) and has surprisingly given me a lot to consider. While I still feel quite unsure as to whether this was a book for me, I do still feel it deserves high praise. For its originality, plot and story-telling – as well as all-around fabulous-ness – the book earns a four out of five!
A massive thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with a copy of the book!
❤ MacKenzie Cadenhead ❤
MacKenzie Cadenhead was born and raised in New York City, where she mastered her driver’s ed lessons in Chinatown, but somehow never learned to ride a bike. After trying her hand at a number of odd jobs—holiday gift wrapper, tour guide, pizza delivery person—she spat in the face of employability by delivering the one-two punch of a BA in English.
These days she writes children’s books and reads them to her family, most notably her dog, Smudge.