The Red Eye book series by Stripes Publishing has been a blessing for those wishing to experience YA horror in a book form. Vampires, cursed treasures, human centipede wannabes – there is something for everyone. Lou Morgan’s ‘Sleepless’ is essentially a slasher on paper, more specifically, a group of privileged teens making some dumb decisions which come back to bite them in the ass. Are you intrigued?

Plot

Izzy and her friends are young, rich and most importantly, enrolled in a private school which is extremely serious about their exams. With failure not on the menu, Tigs, the group’s ‘leader’ presents them with a solution. A pill that will help them focus and get those amazing grades, with no consequences whatsoever. Except that of course, there is no such thing as a consequence-free drug. 

One thing is for certain – the novel definitely has the creep factor down. Interestingly, once the characters start hallucinating, the tension is not from questioning if what they’re seeing is real because we know it’s not. It more so stems from seeing how the pill affects each character and how some of them become a danger to themselves and others.

However, for those looking for a kickstart that drops you right in the middle of the action, this book is not for you. The writer takes her sweet time establishing the setting and dropping immense amounts of exposition which add to the worldbuilding but are forgotten by the time the story finally kicks off.

Mild spoilers ahead 

One of the major flaws of ‘Sleepless’ for me was the fact that for all the exposition dumps, Morgan does not take enough time to develop her characters. Half of them are basically just numbers to add to the body count. Even Izzy, the character we’re meant to sympathise with, is morally dubious and not exactly emotionally stable. This does not make for a bad character in itself but feels tacked on at the end (and especially with the cliff-hanger at the last few lines, people who read this know what I’m talking about). 

While with stories like this, there has to be some suspension of disbelief, here it is stretched pretty damn thin. So many things were completely unexplained, such as how did Tiggs access the drugs? Why was there no investigation launched considering the bloodshed? Why was Mia’s motivation for her actions so basic? Why did no one take Izzy to therapy? And what was that ending? (Can you tell I’m still upset?) 

Final thoughts 

Despite what I’ve said above, I did enjoy ‘Sleepless’ a great deal, if for nothing else then for the fact that there just aren’t many of this sort for young adults. It could’ve definitely used some refining and development of the characters but overall, it was still a creepy thrill ride that is definitely not the worst of its kind.

3.8 out of 5 stars (3.8 / 5)

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