Insomnia by JR Johansson

Oh my gosh, you guys. The feels. They are hard to make words with.

The protagonist of this YA thriller is 16-year old Parker Chipp (gotta love that last name), who hasn’t had true, restful sleep in over four years because of a strange condition: He is forced to watch the dreams of the last person he made eye contact with before he fell asleep. Naturally this means viewing a lot of weird, awkward and confusing images involving unicorns and unspoken desires, but most disturbing are the memories — domestic violence and murder among them.

The premise (and that snazzy cover) alone are powerful enough to make me giddy, but it’s Parker and his best friend Finn who kept me reading. Parker isn’t particularly noteworthy by himself but my sympathy for his predicament is enough to make up for that. (I mean, it’s only natural to be a little deficient in personality when you haven’t slept in four years. I start losing charm when I go without sleep for more than four hours, but I digress.) And Finn is a good natured, laid back weirdo, and they’re both dudes (there aren’t enough male POVs in YA!). Enough said.

I wasn’t expecting the romance that blossomed in this novel, but I actually supported it for once! Although there were some scenes that may have foreshadowed it, I’m glad that the author avoided the creepy tendency to put stalker guys on a pedestal, with the victim of his stalking falling madly in love with him. I can’t say how many times I’ve seen that play out in romance novels, but it happens way too much. This novel is a textbook-perfect example of how you’re supposed to handle it, and it does so in a way that makes me sympathetic to both the victim and the perpetrator. What the what? Parker manages to fall in love with someone other than the one who he’s obsessively co-dependent on. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to be able to write that.

Other things I loved about this novel: busy but concerned/visible mom, subtle critiques of domestic violence and drug abuse, guy who confides in his friends instead of bottling everything up and slowly going insane. I really admire the attention to the relationships between all of the main characters – very refreshing, honest and realistic. Insomnia was also amazing at building tension and creating all sorts of twist and turns that kept me guessing. Up until the climactic end scene, I was totally hooked, although there were a few lulls here and there.

I won’t spoil anything, but there’s a certain twist in the climax that threw me for a loop, and unfortunately not in a good way. The final reveal of Mia’s stalker made no sense to me, as it came way out of left field. Even after stepping back for a couple hours, I couldn’t see how the Big Reveal was plausible – I think there needed to be some more foreshadowing or character development on the part of He Who Shall Not Be Named.

I’m not quite sure if I want to read followups but as a standalone novel, Insomnia was extremely satisfying.

You can purchase your own copy of Insomnia through Amazon or Barnes and Noble now! And make sure you check out Jenn’s blog. 🙂

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