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The blockbuster film Inception meets Lisa McMann's Wake trilogy in this dark paranormal thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Aprilynne Pike. This novel is also perfect for fans of Kelley Armstrong, Alyson Noel, and Kimberly Derting.If you know me at all by now, you know I'm absurdly fascinated with serial killers. (Actually, that might be less-than-common knowledge, because I haven't had the chance to talk about it much recently. Well, now you know!) With that in mind, obviously, Sleep No More was an easy sell for me. Mixing a murder mystery with a girl's ability to tell the future? Um, yes. And while I saw who the killer was coming from a mile away, it didn't spoil the big reveal, because there's so much more to the story than just the murders--lots you couldn't begin to predict.
Charlotte Westing has a gift. She is an Oracle and has the ability to tell the future. But it doesn't do her much good. Instead of using their miraculous power, modern-day Oracles are told to fight their visions—to refrain from interfering. And Charlotte knows the price of breaking the rules. She sees it every day in her wheelchair-bound mother and the absence of her father. But when a premonition of a classmate's death is too strong for her to ignore, Charlotte is forced to make an impossible decision: continue following the rules or risk everything—even her sanity—to stop the serial killer who is stalking her town.
Watching Charlotte evolve and get to know what she can do is fascinating. She's had to suppress this extraordinary thing she can do her entire life, both fearing and knowing the full potential of the consequences of meddling with the future. She's faced with an interminable future of isolation and loneliness, following in the footsteps of other Oracles by cutting herself off so as not to arise suspicion of what she can do and avoid the temptation to change the future to help those she cares about. But when she's faced with a possible future, one with everything she could dream of, one where she doesn't have to fight what she is, who can blame her for wishing and hoping for it? Though, I can blame her for being more than a little oblivious at times.
But, there are a couple of things Sleep No More gets so perfectly right: the Oracle lore and its unflinching look at the murders themselves. Even though the information about Oracles is presented sparingly, there's enough to get you desperately curious and deeply fascinated. I found myself just as eager as Charlotte to learn exactly what she could do and was just as shocked when many of her beliefs about her visions were shattered. I wanted to explore the depths of the plane and shuffle through the future like she does. A lot of the information we get at the end is kind of an info dump, but I was so starving for information I lapped it up. There's a lot more to learn, though.
The murder scenes in Sleep No More are, honestly, hard to read at times--in a good way. We don't ever really see the actions themselves, but simply the aftermath is enough to bring about queasiness. But not only do the scenes add a layer of gritty truth (murder is horrific, no matter how you look at it) and real consequences to the story, but they reflect the psyche of the killer as well. It tells so much about the murderer, information you'd not get otherwise that makes a lot of sense once you know who it is and their motives. If you're bothered by gore, I don't know that I'd recommend reading this, but I never felt like it was gratuitous, like the scenes were there for shock value.
The romance here is a little meh, in my book, and it's the one thing that truly bothered me. In retrospect, it makes sense, what with that twist at the end. But, as you're reading, it feels fast--though Charlotte mentions she doesn't find it fast for her since she's liked the guy for ages. There's not a lot of chemistry, and they seem to escalate from comfortable friendship to (almost) awkward romance suddenly. That twist does make the romance a much more interesting part of the plot, but had I been more invested, the twist would have been even better.
Be prepared to be pretty confident (and probably proven completely right) in your suspicions of who the murderer is in Sleep No More, but also be prepared for a dark, creepy, and addicting read. It's a murder mystery, yes, but it's got a fascinating lore that will only grow in the next book.
About the author:
Critically acclaimed, #1 New York Times best-selling author Aprilynne Pike has been spinning tales since she was a child with a hyper-active imagination. At the age of twenty she received her BA in Creative Writing from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. When not writing, Aprilynne can usually be found out running; she also enjoys singing, acting, reading, and working with pregnant moms as a childbirth educator and doula. Aprilynne lives in Arizona with her husband and four kids; she is enjoying the sunshine.