In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain? Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is wildly provocative and gloriously absorbing.
You can’t imagine my excitement when I received Sleeping Beauties in the mail. I’ve been a fan of Stephen King for as long as I can remember. I’ve absolutely loved some of his books, I’ve liked some others… and I’m always looking forward the next film or tv adaptation. After watching IT only a couple of weeks ago (and falling in love), I knew I wanted to start this one immediately. And yes, today is release day, which means I read this very long book in just about three days. It is indeed absorbing.
Sleeping Beauties is a fantasy book with a truly interesting premise: what would happen if women went to sleep and never woke up? What would the world be like without women? How would men react? Would women try to stay awake or would they simply give up? In addition, the main appeal for me was the fact that a section of the book was set in a women’s prison, a la Orange is the new black. And those women were fascinating. I wish they’d had a bigger part in the story.
Despite its length (700 pages), Sleeping Beauties is a real page-turner. The first day, I read about 450 pages and it certainly didn’t feel like an effort. I was hooked. The story was engaging, the characters were multi-layered and mostly likable. I rooted for them. I actually begged for some of my favorite women to try to stay awake. The following day, the second part was the one I struggled the most with, maybe because some of my favorites were already asleep.
I loved how the book made me question several things regarding men and women’s behaviour. How it implied that all through history, men have always been known for trying to solve everything by using violence. Basically, Stephen and Owen King suggest that a world consisting of only women would be mostly peaceful and we could definitely keep the human race alive. Can’t disagree with that, lol.
Would I have chosen another ending? Maybe… But I still understood the decisions. And it was a bittersweet conclusion, but I guess it all made sense in the end. This might not be my favorite King book ever (hello there, 11/22/63), but it was an engaging and interesting read nevertheless. Does this mean I’m cured and ready to try big books again? Because I sure hope they’re as addictive as this one!
ARC, Hodder & Stoughton , 2017