Recently I was pretty delighted when invited to join an international book club being set up by two bloggers. I’m a sucker for flattery and the invite-only status suckered me right in. Christened the YAckers, we now consist of a several bloggers and it’s all jolly good fun.
Every month, one of us suggests a book which we then all read and discuss at our super secret, er, Facebook hideout after which the discussion is collated and posted on a blog. These discussions are NOT reviews, they are our instant reactions to the book that we’ve read together. They are NOT particularly politically correct and they often contain SWEARY words. I KNOW – we are living on the EDGE. Basically, it gives us all an opportunity to spraff on about books without having to be particularly constructive so please don’t expect any great literary critique. Last month, I suggested A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan. As the group was still in the initial stages, not everyone was able to participate but those who stepped up to the plate were:
Melissa from The Book Nut
Donna from Bites
Laura from A Jane of All Reads
Sandy from Pirate Penguin Reads
Jillian from Random Ramblings
And this is what happened. Word to the wise, we really didn't like this one so leave now if you are easily offended, have a heart condition or are heavily pregnant. You have been warned.
Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss. Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten subbasement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now, her parents and her first love are long gone, and Rose— hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire— is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat. Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes— or be left without any future at all (summary courtesy of Goodreads).
A Long, Long Sleep? I'd rather have taken a long, long nap. I rarely don't finish a book but I really couldn't be bothered with this one and only completed it in order to write up this post. Having struggled through to the end, I feel no better. Character-wise I entirely detested Rose. I found her alternately vapid, arrogant and repeatedly stupid. I really couldn't have cared less about her past OR her future. None of the other characters were particularly interesting, bar Xavier who was the most intriguing aspect of the plot. I quite liked the dog, though, which says a lot as I'm not really a dog sort of person. Also, and this is just a small gripe, I don't believe that Rose would be referencing Apocalpyse Now (she refers to something as Apocalypse Then) over 100 years after it was released. Yes, I know it's a cinematic classic... but really? Seriously? I don't think so. Apart from anything, I don't think that sort of cinema would really have been her THING. She was too busy being drugged to sleep by her wonderful parents and lusting after toddlers or something.
The writing was actually quite nice, but the new youth venacular which seemed forced and kept making me cringe. The world building was sadly lacking, with little making sense which was unfortunate as there was a lot that could have been explored. Basically, I didn’t enjoy the book – there are so many well researched, exciting Dytopias on the YA shelves but sadly, this is not one of them.
“That’s two votes for the dog as favourite character,” says Laura, “I think he should have bit the bitch when the whole paints thing was blamed on him....and he got robo-tased and had to go to the vet...” and in case you thought I was joking about the whole toddler thing, Laura summed it up succinctly by stating that “she fell in love with a toddler, slept until he grew up and then they made out. That was hot”. Something tells me that in this case, hot means uncomfortably repulsing (I mean, did NOBODY learn from Jac-Esmee?). As Melissa put it “that thing with the toddler? Creepy”.
And it seems I wasn’t the only one to have issues finishing the book – Sandy was the most successful when it came to completing the challenge.. BUT (and it’s a bit but, hence the capitalisation), “Um...I read most of it but I didn't FINISH it. I liked it enough but I didn't *need* to read on to see what happened next. I liked Otto a lot though. Blue Alien Thief ftw. ♥”. Otto was OK actually, although his morals seemed questionable.
I was also not the only person to dislike Rose and it would seem that we all felt a little disappointed with the lost potential of her character. As Donna says: “There was so much potential here to really dig into the character's reaction of waking up 62 years later and all of the repercussions. Instead we get ‘OMG ur awake! You're totally princess of the universe and you're mega rich and here let's put you into school with all of the rest of the mega rich kids who despise you but you're so freaking humble and weak but you're uber-modest and would have probably been in the remedial classes at any other school for how much your grades sucked but you can get into any class you want because the hot boy that totally frenched you to wake up a corpse has got a hard-on for you and you got some robot guy after you but no-ones knows why and you're obviously TSTL to do anything about it’.”
Actually, Donna had irritations to vent. These particularly related to the science bit: “The utter science fail was what really pissed me off. Here we have a chick that was in what's pretty much a coma for 62 years unsupervised. That leaves me having to assume that that machine, in 62 years, never suffered a power failure (despite all the construction going on over her head), shit happened to the extent that everyone that who knew about her was annihilated, and the machine had enough sustenance to maintain life for 62 uninterrupted years. Failtastic failbots of the failverse. Not to mention when she woke up she was just a bit stiff with some bad hair. Right. Because her muscles totally wouldn't have atrophied, she'd still remember how to use all of her motor functions and she totally wouldn't be a vegetable or something more closely resembling the Crypt Keeper upon waking. That's all assuming that she could feasibly survive something like that. Which she couldn't. And only Peter Griffin thinks mouth to mouth resuscitation is a valid kiss. And all of that was in the first goddamn chapter. And apparently the world exists in the ether because, from what I read I couldn't figure out where it was set. There was some talk of other planets/moons so I'm assuming it was Earth but that was never validated. Also, I'm not big on Sci-Fi but even I can tell you inserting a couple of hovercraft does not a Sci-Fi world make”.
She continues, “I really liked the sterile gene that plants mutated into and then people ate the plants and then people couldn't have babies anymore. How a mutated gene in a plant could have any bearing on human sperm is beyond me. I must have missed that part of science class. But apparently you can eat it and it effs with a guy's bobblies and kills the population as a result. If this is what the world turned out to be, perhaps it was for the best. You know, natural selection and all”.
Yet surely it can’t have been all bad? Can it? Really? Well, when pushed to think of some good points I have to admit I was stumped. However, Sandy came to my rescue by pointing out that she “liked Rose and Otto together. They actually had normal conversations and talked about stuff like normal people (despite the fact that he's, um, an alien.) I never liked Bren and Xavier...sigh. I have conflicting feelings for him and Rose but I gotta say, that ending choked me up a little” And, do you know what? She’s right – the ending has real pathos and doesn’t take the easy way out. Laura “liked the cover...it didn't show up on my Kindle, mind you, but it looked nice on Goodreads” while Donna helpfully informed us that “the library binding was nominally waterproof”. However, dedicated to the last, poor Jillian could only respond “I just finished it.. I kinda wish I didn't”.
So in conclusion, A Long, Long Sleep was really not the one for us Yackers. Luckily our next book, The Name of The Star by Maureen Johnson has proved a big hit so keep your eyes peeled for our discussion which will be posted on Jillian’s blog some time in the next month and contain fluffy bunnies, cheeping chicks, murder, death and ghosties. Or somesuch.