A new suspense-ridden thriller that’s Heathers meets Inception.
As if surviving high school wasn’t hard enough, Sarah Reyes suffers from REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, a parasomnia that causes her to physically act out her dreams. When she almost snaps her friend’s neck at a sleepover, Sarah and her nocturnal habits are thrust into the spotlight and she becomes a social pariah, complete with public humiliation.
When an experimental drug comes onto the market that promises nighttime normalcy, Sarah agrees to participate in the trial. At first, she seems to be cured. Then the side effects kick in. Why does a guy from her nightmare show up at school? Are the eerily similar dreams she’s sharing with her classmates’ coincidence or of her making? Is she losing her mind or does this drug offer way more than sleep?
This was a really difficult book for me to read and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. It’s not something I’d recommend to anyone under late teens due to some difficult scenes. The writing was intense, thrilling and suspenseful but at the same time parts of the storyline seemed disturbingly heavy for a YA book that didn’t carry any implications to the reader for what lay in the pages. The plot is fast paced and a real page turner even through the parts that made my skin crawl. I felt like I needed a shower after reading some of those scenes. Sleep disorders, astral projection, pseudo possession and medication effects of experimental drugs were all intriguing concepts particularly how MacKenzie Cadenhead uses them as plot devices.
Why I’m having such a hard time with this book were the areas where it was implied that Sarah and possibly others were assaulted but it wasn’t handled well. No one was held responsible for what they did and their actions weren’t held to the scrutiny of being considered assault. There was no true discourse on Sarah witnessing her own violation without being able to do anything about it or what she did in response. The controlling and psychologically disturbing relationship between Sarah and Wes made me want to stage an intervention while filing a restraining order against him; there was way too much realism in that to feel comfortable reading any scenes with them together.
I think Cadenhead’s writing style is vivid and she has done a great job capturing the difficulties of social bullying, psychological torture, fear of physical assault as the “Mean Girls” take things to a new level and peer pressure. However, I felt a huge disservice was done to assault victims when there was this incredible opportunity to showcase the realities of those who take advantage of others when they’re vulnerable and the consequences they should face. The closest we get to a moral understanding of the severity of what is being done is when one of the characters admits they’re abusing the power that’s been given to them but it took a tragic incident to get there.
Thank you to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for allowing me to review this book.
Buy at Amazon: http://a.co/12RtJZb
*synopsis and pic from netgalley.com