Jaime Salvator, a top pre-med student at Yale, witnesses an unprecedented sleep experiment involving teenagers who suffer from insomnia—and how it goes dreadfully wrong.
At the beginning of the experiment, an earthquake occurs that disrupts the Tower, an electrical output system that is attached to the seven subjects, who have been induced into REM sleep. Each of the sleepers has been catapulted into a shared dreamlike state filled with monsters, slime, and like scenarios based upon some of their worst nightmares. Narrative perspective alternates among the teens as they rely on one another to evade the horrors of their collective nightmare. In the experiment lab, Jaime secretly engages a hacker friend to help find information in an attempt to learn more about the patients’ backgrounds. The frame story takes a wildly unrealistic turn when, after a horrific fatality occurs in the lab, the doctors conducting the experiment actually leave Jaime alone in the lab with the remaining six comatose patients. With plotting reminiscent of a teen B-movie, the author relies upon a cast of stereotypical characters that in one case borders on xenophobic, as one of the narrating subjects describes Remi, a refugee from a fictional, war-torn country in Africa, as a kid who “looks out of place in a way only a foreigner can.” Jaime is probably black, implied by references to affirmative action and her origins in “one of Detroit’s worst neighborhoods.” Falling in line with the trend of the multivolume series, the abrupt ending to this book is not an innovative cliffhanger but a shallow contrivance to sell the next book.
In this case, as each chapter is predictable, the sequel will be more of the same. (Science fiction. 14-18)