Review: Insomnia (The Night Walkers #1) by J.R. Johansson

Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Mystery
Expected Publication on June 8, 2013 by Flux
 

It’s been four years since I slept, and I suspect it is killing me.Instead of sleeping, Parker Chipp enters the dream of the last person he’s had eye contact with. He spends his nights crushed by other people’s fear and pain, by their disturbing secrets—and Parker can never have dreams of his own. The severe exhaustion is crippling him. If nothing changes, Parker could soon be facing psychosis and even death.

Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that is utterly addictive. Parker starts going to bizarre lengths to catch Mia’s eye every day. Everyone at school thinks he’s gone over the edge, even his best friend. And when Mia is threatened by a true stalker, everyone thinks it’s Parker.

Suffering blackouts, Parker begins to wonder if he is turning into someone dangerous. What if the monster stalking Mia is him after all?

 
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Faye’s Review:

Thank you Flux and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for a review. This generous act did not influence my review in any way.

As a person who oftentimes finds herself still awake in the wee hours of the morning, and as someone truly fascinated in the subject of sleep deprivation (having experienced it in my college life once or twice, ahem), it comes as a no wonder that the moment I saw Insomnia by J.R. Johansson on NetGalley, I felt that I just had to have it. Entering the dreams of people you last got eye contact with?! Wicked. Not having a decent sleep for a long time?! Awesome. On the verge of insanity? Hell yeah.

Needless to say, I consumed this book in less than 4 hours, which is quite a record for me, to be honest. This fast consumption isn’t because I skimmed the novel, mind you, but it’s because everything was just so fast-paced and exciting, I couldn’t stop reading, and NO, I DON’T WANT TO STOP READING. Even if it was already 4:00 in the morning. Even if I was already sleep-deprived. Oops.

The best thing about this book is the main male character. Do any of you have any idea how rare it is to have a freaking male character in a YA book? And a likeable one, to boot! Such heroes in a popular genre are far and few between, so for that reason, I already consider this book a gem. Parker Chipp is an endearing yet complex teenager. You know for certain that he’s a cool guy – nice, athletic, has a bizarre sense of humor (but funny, nonetheless!), and even thoughtful. I knew from the very start that I’d like him, and his very personal internal narration made it even more easier for me to feel for him, too. Despite being an overall good guy, you can really feel his frustrations and his fears of dying as a result of not being able to sleep, which influenced his recent actions that have directly or indirectly pushed other people away. Throughout the book, I found myself rooting and feeling sorry for all the experiences he had to go through. Heck, I was even angry that he was so misunderstood by others, and honestly, this empathy couldn’t have come if it weren’t for his likeable voice. I love how the author made him so complex, yet a delight to read at the same time. I reckon he’ll be a favorite.

Aside from that, I appreciated the structured storyline. For a book that spans 360 pages, it didn’t feel dragging at all, and no chapter felt like a filler. Every chapter had a purpose, as if each contributed to the escalation of events that would lead to the much-coveted finale. The way the dreams were described, the way the little technical stuff were thoroughly explained, and the way the twists and turns were meticulously-weaved — all of those were a pleasure to read. I kid you not that the flow is very nice, which I didn’t really expect coming from a Paranormal YA read (because honestly, most paranormal books I read didn’t even come this close to being well-written). I loved how there was a sense of urgency, but the overall pace was steady, making sure that the reader was absorbing everything in while still keeping them at the edges of their seats. The same could be said for the psychological aspect of it. As stated and implied in the synopsis, Parker will undergo a lot of… mental and psychological changes, and his journey to this state, rocky and unfortunate as it was, was very fascinating to read. You know for certain that when he does reach that condition, it didn’t just happen from out of nowhere. There were events that led to it, there were reasons, and it took a lot of painful time… and the best par tis? I loved every minute and every page. The saying “it gets worse before it gets better” holds true here. His transformation from someone potentially dangerous, to his resisting it, and to his ultimate self-acceptance was a wonderful journey.

I also appreciate the fact that this will be a series. I understand from the very start there were supernatural elements, but a part of me thought that this book could’ve stood on its own as a stand-alone. The ending kind of implied something… deeper and more complex going on in the background that would ultimately reel poor Parker Chipp in, and for a moment, I felt a tinge of disappointment because one, that would mean I have to wait for the next book to come out, and I tell you I have severe withdrawal problems; and two, I thought its impact would have been more phenomenal as a stand-alone. But hey, I’ll be seeing more of Parker Chipp and his awesome personality, so I’ll shut up now and be grateful for that instead. :)

But there are reasons why I gave this 4 stars, although I was very tempted to give it 5. For starters, I felt that the climax was very anti-climactic. When it was finally revealed who the bad guy was, I didn’t feel any “shock” or “aha! I knew it was him!” or even an “I so didn’t see that coming!” It felt as if the whole thing was random. Yes, random. The guy only appeared a handful of times throughout the book, and the lack of foreshadowing or implication of his involvement ultimately backfired, because it left me feeling dull. All it garnered was an “oh… ok?” from me, at best. Sad, I know, because I was expecting a lot!

Overall, this was a fun read. I loved every minute and every page of it, sans the climax. That, I think, needs some work, but essentially, everything is good. Very good, in fact. Can’t wait for the next book to come out!

Final verdict: 4/5

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Melissa’s Review:

For the love of Good Night’s Rest: Review for Insomnia by J. R. Johansson

Rating: 3/5 — it’s promising.

Being a self-proclaimed insomniac was enough to get me to start reading this book; finishing it was a totally different process [which was slightly painful at times]. To sort of visually sum up my experience and feelings (sorry, Math haters):

Insomnia image 1

AB — Hmm, I like. It’s creative.

BC — Huh what the…

CD — Oh it gets better, plus, new people

DE — Oh… man this is going to take some time…

EF — OH! Then it gets better! And some non-sexual bromance/team effort going on

 

And then the CLIMAX which totally came out of nowhere

Insomnia image 2

 

After that I was mostly…

Insomnia image 3

I didn’t know what to feel anymore. But did I enjoy it? Um, honestly, I think I sort of did (though my review might seem a bit whiny/full of complaints, hey, I still finished the book. Usually, when I hate a book I’d like drop it and leave it to rot or something. Well, not this one.)

Anything Psychology-related is automatically interesting for me. With Insomnia, the author played around with the idea of Parker, our main character, not having “real sleep” for more than two years because he is a Watcher. Basically he spends time in the subconscious of the last person he’s made eye contact with. Now, unless this concept has already been repeated in other YA novels, I certainly think this is unique, so thumbs up! With this, he has to deal with his declining performance in school and football (<3 oh football); to top it off, his mum thinks he’s on drugs. Now how’s that for a dilemma? It eventually escalates to losing physical control and hallucination, which distorts both physical and mental concepts of his reality. And with other blokes constantly messing with him too, that’s basically a recipe for self-destruction and tasteful suspense. One of my concerns (it’s petty, and judge you can, whatever) is WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MRI RESULTS?! I felt like they did all these tests but after getting an MRI, they just dropped it like a hot potato. Where is my scientific closure in this highly fictional piece?!

Anyway, his best mate, Finn and his sister Addie are his truest friends. However, with this condition and other factors (secret feelings for Addie vs. the bro code of not dating your friend’s sister, him slowly dying, you know, normal teen stuff) and the new people that enter the picture, there friendship was put to the test. And then there’s Mia, which he met serendipitously (love — or life — at first sight, anyone?). Mia was described as the most perfect, sweet little thing with the right amount of fragility, brought by her screwed up childhood and foster home experience. Oh and she plays football too! Also, she is the only chance Parker has of normal sleep and consequently, survival.

With this, the challenge came with his desperation for some last glance experience with Mia, which made him go from low-profile and dying to stalker, mental and still dying. I understand that Parker is slowly losing his grasp on everything about and around him and that he is so desperate to live. How can I not understand when 2/3 of the book, Parker chased after Mia, sought her approval, almost lost all his loved ones completely (he did, at one point)?! The whole time he wanted her to trust him, which would of course lead to her letting him “sleep” in her dreams. But it was so romanticised that it almost made you seem like he wanted Mia, not living. I hope that made sense — I get that Mia = survival, but at one point, he wanted to save her, and didn’t care about himself anymore. UMM, NO. You can’t just jump into saving someone without saving yourself first. That’s why in plane emergencies, you put an oxygen mask on you before the child you sit beside! Ugh.

And then the climax… OMG. I mean, after that part, I basically glided through the book faster than ever after that. I can’t help snicker from that point onwards. But it ends with this Nolan Ross appeal c/o that shady guy who pops out of nowhere, so much mystery and badassery who goes by the name of… well, you’ll have to read it to find out.

Now will I read the next book? Maybe out of curiosity, to see if it’s going to turn out into something similar to this:

Insomnia image 4

 

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Faye

Faye

A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena

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  1. says

    It’s nice that you two enjoyed it. I really, really wanted to. The concept was so intriguing and it had nightmares — which meant it could’ve be a horror maybe. But Parker’s constant whining about his situation and inability to do anything about it (for four years he’s had this problem and done … nothing until the start of the book?). Plus, I really don’t understand how he could ever play soccer if he was so exhausted. You don’t get an adrenaline boost every time you go to practice.

    The pacing lagged for me, and I just couldn’t believe he waited until the end to figure out what was going on with that guy that was following him. It was easy to figure out what that guy wanted anyway. And the romance tension was just dumb. If Parker told Finn he was into Addie, Finn wouldn’t have cared. Their best friends, so he would know Parker would treat Addie right. If Parker slept around with a whole lot of girls, then I would understand why Finn would never allow it. But … from what I understand from Finn’s character, he was a nice guy and would’ve probably been happy that his sister was dating someone he could trust.

    I knew from the moment Jeff was introduced what he was, too. So the sudden reveal at the end was the obvious thing. And it was also a “villain tell all” moment which always bothers me. Why would a villain waste time to explain all of that? For once, I’d love to see the villain not waste for that and just kill everyone. It also felt really forced that Jeff was the bad guy and insane. Though she hinted toward him being a jerk, that really came out of nowhere. “Oh, my mommy didn’t pay enough attention to me and I am really full of myself, therefore I am a homicidal crazy person”. I like my villains to have a little flair to them.

  2. Jaime Lester says

    I have been so excited about this book for a long time. I love a good psycho-horror book and the cover and synopsis had me at hello. But then I started reading reviews for it, and I must admit that I have gotten a little nervous. Some reviewers have been very unhappy with Insomnia. It is so AWESOME to read a positive review for this book. So, thank you so much for that!