Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Huston's new one is a departure

I don't blame you if you have started and put down Charlie Huston's Sleepless. Only my great love of his previous books got me past the challenging beginning? Challenging is a word you normally apply to thrillers, but this one qualifies. Although he does not make it clear until later, he has two narrators. Initially I thought you could tell the difference because one was written in first and another in third person, but it turns out one character is written in both while one is just first person. The occasional use of dates threw me as well. I thought maybe the two voices were the same person separated by time.

The dates caused another problem for me. The book is set in mid-2010 and the world has gone completely to hell. 10% of the population is infected with a disease that prevents them from ever going to sleep. On top of that, global warming has advanced and the economy has cratered. The poor areas of LA are now war zones and air strikes are common. So, I was quite confused. The world went this bad in six months?

Well as it turns out, the hell of the story actually starts in 2008. This book, mind you, was published in 2010. You don't learn when the troubles started until about half way through. Maybe the book was written a few years ago, but if so, why didn't they change the dates?

All this complaining aside, I really enjoyed the book. Huston is working towards more complicated stories with characters beyond his pulpy types (gay, aesthete assassin anyone?) He does keep his noirish attitude though. You can bet the Man is up to no good (is he ever?). There are plenty of inventive story lines, including how important MMORPGs have become in a world where people are afraid to leave their house.

So, if you like well written apocalyptic thrillers where the heroes are threatened more by other people than by the environment. If you are a fan, give it a chance.

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