SLEEPLESS by Charlie Huston
Kirkus Star


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Thirty million Americans are sleepless, and it’s killing them.

What began modestly and unobtrusively is now a pandemic—ten percent of the world’s population can’t sleep. Ever. Zombie-like, the sleepless roam nocturnal streets, desperate to fill endless hours, while their bodies—and minds—disintegrate. This disease is a death sentence, usually within a year. While there’s no known cure, symptoms can be alleviated, but only by an increasingly hard-to-get drug named Dreamer. Parker Haas, a young police officer, seems immune to the disease, but his wife Rose is dying of it. Months ago, she passed the stage where she could care for their child in the loving way she used to. Instead, she spends her diminishing time obsessively immersed in Chasm Tide, a complex doomsday video game. On the street one day, Park learns of a possible source for Dreamer, which has become central to a flourishing black market. Then he discovers a conspiracy to artificially control the Dreamer supply in order to protect an exorbitant profit margin. The world may in fact be coming to an end as so many around him insist, but Park keeps it simple. He has never seen any path but the one straight ahead, and the imperative remains what it always was. If there’s a conspiracy, his job is to investigate it. If a perpetrator, no matter how powerful, can be identified, his job is to jail the guy. A good cop does what a good cop has to do. For Park, the rest is abstraction.

A writer as skilled as Huston (The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death, 2009, etc.) can make an apocalyptic story terrifyingly plausible. Readers prone to depression should approach with care.

Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-345-50113-4
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Ballantine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2010


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