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July 2010. Los Angeles. Midnight. Gridlock traffic. An explosion. Then darkness. Amidst this chaos, an armed man named Park calmly weaves his way through the darkened streets. Bombs exploding in city centers no longer frighten Park or most people. More terrifying: lying down in bed at night, wondering if you’ll ever be able to sleep again.
Welcome to the harrowing, apocalyptic world of Sleepless, Charlie Huston’s surrealistic thriller brought to life by Ray Porter and Mark Bramhall, the gravely-voiced narrators who deliver a tour-de-force performance of Huston’s engrossing novel. In a world eerily similar to ours, a mysterious illness leaves people permanently awake and desperately seeking DR33M3R, the highly-prized drug nicknamed “Dreamer” which brings relief to the growing hoard of insomniacs.
Park, an undercover cop, sets out to track down a rumor about an illicit network trafficking Dreamer. Another intelligent, tough, urbane character named Jasper hunts the same prize, but for different reasons. Both soon realize there’s more to this rumor. And you’re wise to be paranoid. Crazy conspiracy theories abound, some of which just might be true. Welcome home, fans of Philip K. Dick and The X Files.
Sounding like a mixture of a world-weary Humphrey Bogart detective and a steel-eyed Clint Eastwood character hell-bent on justice, Porter and Bramhall expertly deliver Huston’s blunt, precise dialogue like boxers methodically dismantling an overwhelmed opponent one sharp punch at a time. Huston packs a lot of information into each sentence: Los Angeles geography and military jargon, as well as asides about video games, opera, typewriters, French wine, Craigslist, and nightclub etiquette. And yet no matter what the topic, Porter and Bramhall effortlessly toss off each sentence in a James Bond, martini-dry style.
Careful listeners know better. Beneath the stinging sarcasm and gun-blazing bravado, Park and Jasper care deeply about the disintegrating world around them. That’s why both men attack their assignments with a dogged determination. So be warned. Once you start listening to Sleepless, you might suffer from the same sickness as you race to hear the thrilling ending of this frightening yet captivating vision of the not-so-distant future.
The world is in the grip of an epidemic of sleeplessness, and one man will risk everything to find out what caused it. In his signature style of fast-paced action, outrageous violence, and graphically described scenes, we are tossed into a dramatic turbulence unlike anything you've ever read or heard. Every day, more and more people have been found to have contracted the illness - they simply cannot sleep. The illness arrives slowly, usually revealing itself in a stiff neck. Then it blooms, keeping one from sleeping altogether, eating away at one's mind, birthing panic and confusion until, finally, one enters into the last few months before death, known as the suffering. Similarly, the disease took hold of the globe slowly and now has infected one in every ten people. In Los Angeles, a straight arrow cop named Parker T. Haas is posing as a drug dealer, working undercover to prevent the black market trade of a drug known as Dreamer, a drug known to be the only thing that offers relief to people who are sleepless. He only knows so much about the drug itself: It is manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Afronzo-New Day; it is in small supply; it is in impossibly high demand. But in his darker moments, he admits to himself that his interest in the drug goes beyond the professional. His wife, Rose, has been sleepless for months, and they haven't yet found the courage to find out if their infant daughter is also sick. With Rose unwell and behaving erratically, Park's long hours are weighing on him, but he feels like he's on the cusp of learning something crucial. He feels like he's a few steps away from making the world a better place. So he presses on.
The world is in the grip of an epidemic of sleeplessness, and one man will risk everything to find out what caused it. In his signature style of fast-paced action, outrageous violence, and graphically described scenes, we are tossed into a dramatic turbulence unlike anything you've ever read or heard.
Every day, more and more people have been found to have contracted the illness - they simply cannot sleep. The illness arrives slowly, usually revealing itself in a stiff neck. Then it blooms, keeping one from sleeping altogether, eating away at one's mind, birthing panic and confusion until, finally, one enters into the last few months before death, known as the suffering. Similarly, the disease took hold of the globe slowly and now has infected one in every ten people.
In Los Angeles, a straight arrow cop named Parker T. Haas is posing as a drug dealer, working undercover to prevent the black market trade of a drug known as Dreamer, a drug known to be the only thing that offers relief to people who are sleepless. He only knows so much about the drug itself: It is manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Afronzo-New Day; it is in small supply; it is in impossibly high demand. But in his darker moments, he admits to himself that his interest in the drug goes beyond the professional. His wife, Rose, has been sleepless for months, and they haven't yet found the courage to find out if their infant daughter is also sick. With Rose unwell and behaving erratically, Park's long hours are weighing on him, but he feels like he's on the cusp of learning something crucial. He feels like he's a few steps away from making the world a better place. So he presses on.
I first chose a Huston novel because of the fascinating title of his "The Mystic Art of Erasing All Signs of Death", which in turn provoked me to want to read more of his writing. I went on to the Joe Pitt series which were great. This one sounded unusual and it was. He did not fail to deliver.
The down sides for me were 1) it took me a couple of chapters to get the the hang of the narrator changes since they weren't exactly tied to the characters, but after that it went smoothly. And 2) the gritty noir-ishness of Huston's writing wasn't highlighted as much by these narrators as were the previous novels I "read", but I got past that easily enough; however those two points did keep me from giving it 4 stars. That and the fact that Huston's books just aren't "great" literature, but they are inventive and very well done.
I know Huston's style isn't going to appeal to everyone, but it does to me. and I am looking forward to more of his work and wish more of them were on Audible (preferably with Scott Brick).
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
I think people who were bored by this book may have been expecting another fast moving vampire/detective novel. Instead what you get is a stunning story akin to On The Beach. I have now listened to or read all of Charlie Huston’s works and feel that this is far and away his best. I can’t recommend the story highly enough and would encourage others to evaluate it on its own merits rather than what they expected it to be. With regards to the two narrators, I don’t understand why they chose to present the story in this manor; however, I did not find it distracting enough to take away a star. In short, this book is f…. awesome.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
It was a little twisted and odd, so it was a nice change. However, I counldn't stand the 2 readers changing constantly. There were basically 2 main characters, so it would have made sense if each reader did 1 main character. Nope. All of a sudden, the tone and accent would change but it was the same character thinking and doing. weird way to listen to a novel, IMO.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
Honestly I don't know how I made it through this book. I was so bored, I came very close to just giving up and moving on to something else. Very disappointing because 1) the premise of the novel sounded very interesting to me and 2) I've read previous Huston books which maybe weren't the greatest things ever but were at least entertaining.
If your idea of interesting fiction includes long, rambling exposition and character introspection then this book is for you. You'll get about 13 hours of repetitive, monotonous reflection and about 3 hours of actual plot and action. Its really too bad because those three hours of action are actual pretty good. I guarantee this will be one of those books where you find yourself zoning out and missing entire passages.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
This could have been a great book... interesting plot, characters, etc, however it fell short. Too much time was spent describing the environment and not enough time spent on full character development. It was like looking into a beautiful aquarium full of interesting fish, etc, but can't make out/enjoy the details, because the glass is so dirty you can't quite see in.
I only made it through chapter 17... It was just too dull/bland. It needed more substance and a lot more action/intrigue... as I said, it could have been a great book.
I could tell this writer has a way with words. I have not read any others of his work... maybe this was just an off case.
I didn't have any problems with the narration. It was a dull book and the authors read it as such.
Solid 3 stars.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sleepless is, in a word, brilliant. Having lived through the sleep-deprivation of a colicky infant, I can attest to the scary accuracy of Mr. Huston's vision of the rest-challenged. The alternate timeline is believable, the characters have spectacular depth, and the whole thing, plot and characters, were engaging enough that I found myself listening way, way past my bedtime. Heck, I even cried, and more than once. There was plenty of action without it turning into just-another-wannabe-Hollywood-blockbuster like so many other detective stories these days. And I have to agree with another reviewer who commented that the book was so chock-full of ideas that it could have been a whole series!
I'm a huge fan of Ray Porter, having listened to his readings of numerous titles across several genres. I've never been let down. This was my first Mark Bramhall experience and I'll definitely be returning. His performance of Mr. Huston's quick, vivid dialog is probably the best I've heard in any audio book ever. Now, I do have an itsy-bitsy tiny gripe regarding Mr. Bramhall's reading, and that is the accent used for the Lady of the Thousand Storks. It wasn't a great fit for me, but one can't deduct 1/10th of a star, so it still gets five for performance.
Overall, I was blown away by Sleepless. Now, I know it takes all kinds to make a world, but I don't see how anyone could be bored by this gem. Keep them coming, Mr. Huston. Keep them coming.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful
This dystopian novel of a virus run amok in near-future Los Angeles holds a mirror up to our society and makes us look at ourselves in new ways. Do people who play video games solve problems in new and amazing ways, or are they just addicts? If I thought the world was ending, would I try to sell all my stuff on Craig's List? Is there a difference between being "wealthy" and being "rich"? There are enough ideas in this novel for ten books. And more than enough laugh out loud moments to make you forget the torture scenes. My entire scifi book club loved this book and you will too. I listened to this as an audio book and the narrators (Ray Porter & Mark Bramhall) were wonderful.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
...but I'm now all out as this was his last on my "unread list." After having stumbled across the first of the Joe Pitt series, I became a fan of his dark style, "noir-ish" as a previous reviewer aptly labeled it. Huston is very skilled and has a keen way with words, particularly when it comes to details which may, at first glance, seem to be trivial but lend flavor and spice to the overall scenario he is developing. Unlike a few other reviewers, I appreciated the two-narrator design of this audiobook, as I think it went a long way toward demarcating the two points of view presented. Not even the skillful Scott Brick could have pulled that off as well.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
What would have made Sleepless better?
With such a fascinating premise, I'd hoped this would be a plot-driven novel. Instead, the author seemed too focused on his protagonist, Parker Haas, in particular--and I thought there was far too much dialogue, which perhaps was in the service of further fleshing out the inner conflicts of that main character. I get it, that Haas felt conflicted, but the disease, the political situation, and the societal impact, in my opinion, was so much more fascinating.
What do you think your next listen will be?
Probably "The Accident", by Chris Pavone.
How did the narrator detract from the book?
There wasn't enough difference between their voices, in my opinion. But I didn't really have a problem with the narration or the production, it's just that the book was not to my taste.
What character would you cut from Sleepless?
Not sure any one character needed to be cut so much as there was too much dialogue and not enough plot progress--for my taste, though maybe this novel is more literary than what I personally wanted, in that I guess the author's goal was too explore character more than plot.
Any additional comments?
I actually hope this book will be made into a movie because I would love to see this premise explored in a plot-driven manner. I apologize to the author for writing a negative review--I know how hard it is to write novels, and I can tell from the prose that he worked hard on this and that he's a great writer, it just wasn't my type of read.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I love Charlie Huston's Hank Thompson trilogy (Caught Stealing, etc)- he does full-energy noir better than any modern author since James Crumley. This is a very different book and also wonderful. The narrators did an excellent job of portraying the different first-person voices and the story itself is compelling and terrifying. The first chapter or so is a bit tough to key in to, since you are dropped right in the middle of the story with characters that are not yet introduced, let alone developed. Give it a chance, it's a great listen.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful