Title: Sleeping Beauties
Author: Stephen King and Owen King
Page Count/Review Word Count: 720
I was pleasantly surprised by this book, in part because I’ve heard a few mixed reviews about it and so I wasn’t sure whether I was going to enjoy it. But then, I try not to pay too much attention to reviews, at least until after I’ve read something, because I don’t want them to sway my opinion too much.
This is the first time I’ve read Owen King and about the fortieth time that I’ve read his father, and I’ve got to say that I’m pretty happy with this little offering. It’s the sort of small town stuff that King Sr. at least has always done so well, and indeed you can tell you’re in for a bit of a treat when you open it up and get confronted straight away with a list of the cast of characters.
In It, all of the women in the world are suddenly affected by a sort of sickness in which once they fall asleep, they get covered in webs and can’t be woken back up. If people try to clear the webs from their faces, they turn rabid and viciously kill everyone around them before settling back down to sleep again.
Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that, as there always is with Stephen King books. In fact, it’s pretty much split up into two different sections and in the second half, we find out where the women have gone, although I don’t want to say too much about that because spoilers. What I will say is that I thought it had some pretty interesting stuff to say about gender, especially when it comes to what a society without males might look like.
It also has plenty to say about gun violence and the effects that it has, as well as what happens when people go without sleep for a prolonged period of time. Part of the reason for that is the fact that many of the women try to stay up as long as they can to avoid going into the weird sleep comas, and this gets pretty interesting pretty quickly. It actually gave me a lot of the stuff that I was hoping for from Insomnia when I read that.
I do think that the second half of this book started to drag a little bit, and it could have benefited from being 100 pages shorter. At the same time, I kind of understand why it was as long as it was, and there was something about it that reminded me of Under the Dome, which I liked a lot. Sure, there were things that I’d probably change if I could, but then the same is true of pretty much everything.
I’m also not usually a fan of retellings or reinterpretations, but I feel like this one barely qualifies. In fact, I noticed a few things that they could have done to tie it in with the classic Sleeping Beauty story even more. For example, the alternative world beyond the tree that the women find themselves in could have been 100 years in the future, after all the men died out. I guess it was implied, but actually having that spelled out in the narrative would have been cool.
The ending was actually pretty good though, and that was a nice surprise. Stephen King doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to the strength of his endings, so maybe his son was a good influence here. I thought it was pretty satisfying even after all of the build-up, and I also thought it had some interesting observations on gender, which is unsurprising given the concept behind the story itself and the way the Aurora virus only affects women.
And so when it comes to whether I’d recommend this one or not, it’s a pretty resounding yes, especially if you can pick it up cheap in a charity shop, like I did. Don’t get me wrong, it’s far from King’s best and it’s probably not the best place to start with Stevie, although it was my first Owen King and now I want to read more. Make of that as you will.
Click here to buy Sleeping Beauties.