Length: 303 pages
Author: Karen Thompson Walker
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: January 15th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads
In an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a freshman girl stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics who carry her away, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. Then a second girl falls asleep, and then another, and panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. As the number of cases multiplies, classes are canceled, and stores begin to run out of supplies. A quarantine is established. The National Guard is summoned.
Mei, an outsider in the cliquish hierarchy of dorm life, finds herself thrust together with an eccentric, idealistic classmate. Two visiting professors try to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. A father succumbs to the illness, leaving his daughters to fend for themselves. And at the hospital, a new life grows within a college girl, unbeknownst to her—even as she sleeps. A psychiatrist, summoned from Los Angeles, attempts to make sense of the illness as it spreads through the town. Those infected are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, more than has ever been recorded. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?
I never thought I’d say this about a book, but my head hurt after reading this. I’ve sat on this review for a bit because I was gathering my thoughts.
This book actually spooked me out a bit (note: easily spooked). I started thinking about what would it be like if this actually happened and started spiraling. Seriously, how scary?! Especially when they kept going back to the family with the baby. My intense Momma Bear voice was raging in my head trying to protect them.
I also felt sad reading this. A feeling I generally don’t like to find when reading (unless purposely chosen or previously known beforehand). A lot of this was making my heart hurt. Watching one character drop after another. Having to deal with being quarantined. Some never waking, really hard-hitting stuff.
Everything was too philosophical. One of the characters even offered up those philosophical puzzles that make you run around in circles. It was a battle of who to save, who was worth it, and I didn’t want to make those decisions! This isn’t as light as it may seem, even when it’s only 300 pages.
I was bummed with the resolution. It wasn’t anything spectacular. Things were all of sudden solved. I think that was supposed to be the mystery of the entire illness itself, but it left me wanting more. I personally like endings where I feel all loose ends are tied up and I’m not asking too many questions.
Overall audience notes:
- Language: a little
- Romance: a kiss, a vaguely implied night together
- Trigger warning: suicide