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Coming Soon:
~Review: The Killing Woods
~Review: The Waiting Sky
~Review: A Certain Slant of Light
~Review: Timepiece
~Review: Infinityglass

Monday, June 17, 2013

Review: Insomnia by J.R. Johansson

Insomnia by J.R. Johansson
June 8th, 2013
The Night Walkers, #1
Young Adult
For Review from Flux

Synopsis via Goodreads
It’s been four years since I slept, and I suspect it is killing me.

Instead of sleeping, Parker Chipp enters the dream of the last person he’s had eye contact with. He spends his nights crushed by other people’s fear and pain, by their disturbing secrets—and Parker can never have dreams of his own. The severe exhaustion is crippling him. If nothing changes, Parker could soon be facing psychosis and even death.

Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that is utterly addictive. Parker starts going to bizarre lengths to catch Mia’s eye every day. Everyone at school thinks he’s gone over the edge, even his best friend. And when Mia is threatened by a true stalker, everyone thinks it’s Parker.

Suffering blackouts, Parker begins to wonder if he is turning into someone dangerous. What if the monster stalking Mia is him after all?

So, where to begin? I had very high expectations for this book, what with its synopsis scoring big concept and originality points. Sadly, I couldn't help but feel let down that the book never seemed to achieve maximum potential. At least, from my perspective anyway. That said, it still proved to be a glue-you-to-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of read that stood out amongst all the other paranormal books out there.

My main problem with Insomnia was that I was never able to find myself even the least bit emotionally invested in the characters. There was a strong sense of disconnect between them and myself throughout the whole story. I think this started with our main character, Parker. There is such a thing as being realistically flawed. And then there is just annoyingly stupid. He had me face-palming so many times. Instead of trying to befriend Mia--maybe invite her to hang out with you and your friends so she doesn't get the wrong idea--Parker has to go all weird and creepy on her, acting like a stalker. He always said and did the dumbest things to worsen the situation. Also, it was pretty easy for him to prove his abilities to Finn so why the heck didn't he do it sooner? Hey bud, I can tell you exactly what your dreams were every night for the past week or more. Piece of cake. Not to mention his insistence on sticking to the "bro-code" instead of just asking Finn, "Hey, so, how weird would it be if I dated your sister?" All this, and more, just bugged me, but I will say that as the book progressed, these annoyances lessened substantially. His personality as a whole though just didn't mesh with me as a reader. Mind you, I didn't hate him. There were even some moments when I liked him a little. Plus he did at least have a dry wit about him. Moreover, his character and general personality did detract from my enjoyment of the story. Moving on, though. So Finn and Addie. Here is what I liked about them. When Parker went all bat-shit crazy, they did the reasonable thing in telling him he needed to get help, and they were a little scared of him. Also reasonable. If I didn't have the reader's-eye view, I'd have been scared of Parker too. I thought Finn and Addie were each pretty well developed and realistic supporting characters; I even liked them more than Parker. I'm glad that Johansson didn't push the romance element of the story too hard and avoided making a love triangle out of Parker, Addie, and Mia. Speaking of Mia. That poor soul. She was a relatively, though not completely, weak character, strength wise, but that was a refreshing change. I feel like authors sometimes feel pressure to make all of their female characters strong and/or sassy. Fact is, not all girls are that way. Some are fragile and broken with only a subtle inner strength to cling to, if that. To me, this was Mia. I'm just glad she had enough sense to be afraid of Parker.

From the start, Insomnia had originality in its favor. Generally speaking, we all love when we read something that we've never read anything else like it before. The only thing that I could think of that even remotely resembled this story was Wake by Lisa McMann. I confess, I liked this one a little better. This book was a variety of delicious flavors of dark and twisty. On the whole, I felt like there was something holding the plot back from really shining, but I can't exactly put my finger on what. There was almost a disjointed, ADD feel in the transitions between the focuses of the plot and within the character development, if that makes any sense. But anyway, I digress. The entire time span closely surrounding Parker's suspicions of his own guilt was probably the best, most insane part. The mystery surrounding who was threatening Mia, as well as who the guy with the blind skull jacket was, kept me turning the pages and losing sleep. Insomnia definitely had plenty of drive and suspense, something I look forward to hopefully having in the next book as well.

The writing was well polished and to the point. Nothing fancy or over the top, being fairly subtle. Honestly, I never once stopped and thought, "The writing is so *insert adjective*." This means that it didn't do anything grand to stand out, allowing the story to speak for itself. It also means there wasn't anything I found displeasing about it either. Which is always good.

Okay so when the book finally revealed the identity of Mia's stalker, I was less than thrilled. I guess I just kept thinking it would turn out to be something/someone even more twisted, which for a while, it seemed like it would be. However, as a whole I thought Johansson did a great job of tying up the first book while also setting up the plot for the second.

The Nitty Gritty

Characters: Could not connect to characters. MC annoyed me to no end.
Writing: Polished, straightforward.
Plot: Gripping and original.
Ending: Meh, not what I'd hoped for but well-crafted overall.
1st in Series: A solid start to the series.
Enjoyment/Likability: There were times I liked it more than others. Overall, I found it an enjoyable read.
Recommendable: Yes.

Overall: A little disappointing but still a worthwhile, brilliant-concept read. Honestly, Parker is who really held me back from enjoying this book even more than I did. Despite my issues with it, I definitely plan to continue the series and look forward to the sequel.

Cover: Creepy as shit. Fits book, but honestly, I'd walk right past it in a store and not give it a second glance.

Buy Insomnia
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Julie said...

I've been hearing less than stellar reviews on this book which is sad because I was so excited for it! I hate it when you're unable to connect with the main character but I love realistic side characters as well. It's nice to hear that you think the plot's good but I also hear the ending is too perfect.

I probably won't buy this one but if I spot it in the library I'll borrow it.

Lovely and thorough review! Great job :)

Kate @Midnight Book Girl said...

Lol, the cover is totally what made me read the review! I have heard some less than positive buzz, but I still love the concept. Might have to try to find the time for this one.

Kristin A. said...

I definitely think you liked this more than I did (here's my review if curious). Parker for me was an awful character and just really brought the whole book down in my eyes.

Dana said...

I definitely want to give this book a try sucks that the main character was horrible!

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Georgia, United States
Hello all! My name is Briana, I'm 20, and I live in the beautiful state of Georgia. I love reading and photography.

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