Monday, 24 June 2013

Insomnia by J.R. Johansson Review

Author: J.R. Johansson
Published June 8th 2013 by Flux


Her eyes saved his life.
Her dreams released his darkness.

After four years of sleeplessness, high school junior Parker Chipp can't take much more. Every night, instead of sleeping, he enters the dreams of the last person he's made eye contact with. If he doesn't sleep soon, Parker will die.

Parker Chipp hasn't slept for four years, deep insomnia a `curse' of a `watcher' never sleeps and is projected into the dreams of the last person they make eye contact with that day/night. The description fascinated me from the go, and the opening dream sequence was definitely murderous. What interested me though, was the `layers' of the dreams, that made a dream seem like a hallucination on acid to plain old reality. Parker can distinguish the layers and can tell what part of the dream is something that is real, a part of a memory, to the fantasy of the dreamer.

This one's a new one for me, and it was definitely interesting and detailed, that you could feel the exhaustion in those first chapters. Usually I'm not fond of reading a book from the male perspective because for me I don't usually connect as easily with the character, but I already had something in common with Parker Chipp. Though I'm not a `watcher', and I don't trip into other peoples' dreams (though how fun would that be?) I do however, have insomnia regularly, and it's a horrible, horrible thing and I guess that's what drew me to the story.

Parker knows he's going to die, and soon, being a `watcher' doesn't allow him to sleep, his body rests but his brain is constantly awake and there's only so much it can take before it's lights out, for good. Imagine waking up every morning with a hangover, and you have Parker Chipp. Every inch of him is tired and he's basically a walking zombie, and throughout the day the tremors kick in. It's this that on the way home after dropping best friend Finn, and Finns sister Addie (Who Parker's secretly crushing on) home, that Parker spaces out and narrowly avoided a collision with the car in front of him.

Enter Megan/Mia and her purple pickup truck. Though Mia's no pushover through Parkers curse he has a way of reading people and although not totally proud of it, it gives him a way of manipulating people, and it gets him out of the scuffle unscathed.

Apart from eye contact.

It doesn't make much difference to Parker since no matter how hard he tried to avoid eye contact throughout the day, and if he does, he just had a repeat with the same person he made eye contact with the night before. Parker doesn't know it yet, but Megan/Mia is about to change his life, for the better and for the worse. Mia's dreams are different; serene with sadness underneath, they are only one layer which gives Parker the blissful sleep he needs.

Already sealed with his fate this brings him hope; just a sliver, but enough to try again. He sleeps in the next dream and he doesn't know why Mia's dreams are different, just that they are. Then the one day he doesn't make eye contact and Parkers back to square one, but a deeper coming down, twice as bad. Parker has to sleep, he has to, after accepting his fate, the hopes too much and he doesn't have any option now he has one. He doesn't have to die, and for that Parker has to sleep, an for Parker to sleep he needs Mia. Mia and her simple, uncomplicated dreams.

So starts the obsession.

Slow at first, just trying to catch her eyes at the end of the day. Nothing major, she just thinks he's interested in her, and she isn't. Then Parker starts showing up where she is, just to get the eye contact. Mia starts avoiding him and the desperation in Parker needs him to follow her, watch her, talk to her like a junkie trying to get his next fix. Extreme measure kicks in and Parker drives to the mall where Mia works and waits in the parking lot like the stalker he's becoming, and see's the guy on the bike, the one who he's noticed following Mia around whenever he is. He notices the two blind skull patch on the rider jacket, the same mark that his estranged father had on his wallet.

Anyway, approaching Mia in the dark parking lot Parker scares the crap out of her and almost gets pepper sprayed. The next night he rethinks his plan and goes to the shop she works just before closing thinking it would be easier to buy something, therefore getting her to look at him, and leave. Only it didn't go quite smoothly as planned and he ends up almost giving her a concussion.

By this time Mia's pretty freaked, which she should be, and I'd be questioning her sanity if she wasn't, and Parkers questioning his own sanity. He's out of control and knows he needs help. He finally tells Finn, who at this point, thinks Parker's gone off the deep end anyway, doesn't believe him, until Parker tells him his own dreams resulting in Parker having an ally.

Finn, ever funny, tries to help Parker with Mia but pretty much ends up making it worse, especially since Mia's now getting threat emails, who she thinks are coming from Parker, and as much as it pains him, Parker's losing Mia and Addie fast. Addie, who he won't admit his feelings for, thinks he's just the much of a creep that Mia does. The people he cares about think he's gone psycho and the person he needs thinks he's trying to hurt her. Resigned, Parkers ready to give up, to keep going the way he was until his body gives out.

Enter another one of Finn's terribly fantastic ideas about cluing Addie in on the ever-expanding Scooby Gang. Eventually, using the same trick Parker used on Finn, Addie believes him. So starts the first Scooby Mission.

Operation find out who is stalking Mia (other than Parker himself) and sending those emails.

Suspect list.
1) Thor- Who acts every part of his name.
2) Jeff- Mia's now foster brother and co-captain of the soccer team.
3) Chad- The co-worker
4) Dr Freeburg- The pervert therapist.
5) Mr. Sparks -The foster father.
6) Matt- A member on the team.
And eventually; (After realising he's been doing a little tree stalking and `sleep' walking out his window, he attempts to bind his arms with floss and rope to see if he was going out every night, and when he was going out. Darkness started cutting the rope without even him knowing. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes he was too out in the Darkness for his own good)
7) Parker.

I won't give away the ending, though it was predictable and lacked the excitement for me. For all the build-up the ending just kind of fizzed out. Overall, it was a good, definitely unique read and I didn't even know whose side I was on for half of it. I loved getting to know Parker and the characters, especially Finn, (my future husband. Shhhh!) Oh and I loved the fact that Parker's obsession with Mia was only because of her dream and his lust for staying alive, after all his heart belonged to Addie and I was grateful for not including the dreaded love triangle- and I hope it stays that way in the sequel.

I will read the next one, can't wait to see what just exactly the Night Watchers are and just why they are what they are, and can do what they do.

Rating; 4.5/5 

Thanks for the creepy.