Review: Insomnia by J.R. Johansson
Summary From Goodreads:
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.
Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that is utterly addictive. But what starts out as a chance meeting turns into an obsession; Parker’s furious desire for what he needs pushes him to extremes he never thought he’d go. And when someone begins to terrorizing Mia with twisted death threats, Parker’s memory blackouts leave him doubting his own innocence.
Insomnia is the first book in what feels like ages that I have torn through without pausing. I completed it in an afternoon stopping only to tweet a couple things before diving back in. The story was as addicting to read as Mia’s dreams are to Parker in the book. I simply couldn’t stop.
Parker was an amazing main character. Johansson made sure that the reader really feels his suffering, his pain and how difficult it is to go through life without ever achieving that blissful sleep. She also refuses to fall into cliches, he isn’t some model of innocence or someone you always feel sympathy toward. Parker has an edge to him, a darkness and it doesn’t always play nice. He acts like a jerk, doesn’t always do the right thing even when he knows better, he’s human, but maybe the more primal version of one at times. When you are that sleep deprived your nerves would be shot, it’s not that the reactions he has at times are surprising, it’s just beautifully realistic that he has them.
The secondary characters are fabulous as well. Finn, the best friend, brings the humor that is so needed to lighten up some of the more serious scenes. He’s got great energy and being a bit of a dork works perfectly to contrast the rest of the cast. Addie has a sharp wit of her own despite being reserved a lot of the time. Her character is one that is slowly fleshed out rather than all at once which as she is the main romantic interest (more on that in a sec) is refreshing.
Which brings me to Mia. That point I just brought up? Ya, that’s right, the main character’s savior is NOT the main love interest! *cheers and applause rain down from readers everywhere* No cliches here folks! Mia is a tortured soul. She tries to hide it but her armor quickly falls and reveals her true character. You can’t help but feel bad for her. I can’t reveal too much about her without spoiling the book but I certainly hope she has a brighter future ahead of her after this book, she deserves it. We really don’t find out too much about her personality outside of a few glimpses, and I look forward to seeing her more fleshed out.
The plot is fascinating. This journey you take with Parker as he combats his inner darkness along with the physical and mental strain of never sleeping is amazing. His pursuit of Mia really was chilling. I was never sure of how his character would turn out and if he could survive the next day. We learn more about his powers over dreams and what he can and can’t control. Oh and if you want unexpected twists this is DEFINITELY the book for you. I can’t even. That ending was pretty shocking. You just have to read it.
The world building is a little harder to describe. While the regular one isn’t overly special, the dream world that Johansson shows us is as intricate as they come. Layers upon layers of different possibilities remain even by the end of the book and it will be very interesting to see what new things could be revealed in later books. Will Parker gain more control over the dreams he inhabits? Will he be able to really help people or will this darkness take control? Each dream, and consequently dream world, is as unique as the person having it, the options are endless.
The romance is very slow building. No insta-love here! I enjoyed it as the pairing wasn’t completely obvious throughout the book and it didn’t overpower the cool (and creepy) elements Insomnia had to bring. It was sweet and I’d love to see it continue but you never know what will happen with teenage romance…
My only issue with Insomnia was the very end. Like…the last couple chapters really. The reader gets dumped on with a bunch of loose ends that clearly have to be tied up in a later book. While I completely understand needing aspects near the end to keep the reader excited for the next installment, it felt a bit forced. Could the transition into these new plot points have been a bit smoother? Perhaps. It was the only point in the book where I was like “eh, I’m not sure I love this part” which really is unfortunate because I was thinking five stars for Insomnia all the way as I was reading until then.
Overall I really enjoyed Insomnia. As I said there was only real flaw and that was throwing some info dump/loose ends in the last couple chapters. Otherwise just awesome. Characters were wonderful. Romance was sweet. The plot was intriguing as were the dream worlds and the twists thrown in were wonderful. The creepiness of Insomnia felt very real and I can’t stress how important that was to this book’s success, the believability and execution of all that sleep deprivation could do to a person were excellent and vital. The most impressive thing? This is Johansson’s debut! How amazing is that?! She is sure to impress with her coming books in the future and I can’t wait to read them. Thanks as always for reading! ^.^
Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge #102/200