King, Stephen. Insomnia. New York: Viking Press, 1994.
Reviewed by J. d'Artagnan Love
I have not read much of Stephen King’s work. His last book I read was Bag of Bones and I read it in high school which, as of this May, was officially ten years ago! A friend of mine loves his work and recommended I read Insomnia based on her knowledge of my novel preferences. Ironically, I was having bouts of insomnia myself when I picked up the book, making it a good fit for the time in which I read it!
Insomnia follows Ralph, an old widowed man, as he wanders through the haze of sleeplessness—a haze which slowly turns into hallucinations that Ralph has a difficult time distinguishing from reality. Ralph loses his ability sleep over time, and he insists that the hallucinatory existence in which he now resides is a result of his insomnia. When he is witness to one of his long-time friends behaving strangely, Ralph is sent spiraling into a neon, dreamlike, domino cascade of events. One thing Ralph is sure of is something very important is happening to him and the town in which he lives.
Ralph eventually surrenders to this new world, a world that overlaps with the real world but no one but Ralph is able to access. Eventually he learns that his long time crush, Lois, is also suffering from insomnia and she admits to having similar experiences with an alternate reality. Lois and Ralph’s journey intensifies as they meet Clothos, Lachesis, and Atropos, three mysterious beings that live, not in this world, but in the colorful alternate world only Lois and Ralph can enter. Together they learn to develop their own personal skill sets that help them in an unfolding battle between good and evil.
This is one of the most interesting books I think I’ve ever read. King reaches deep into a collective unconscious to explore the afterlife and the true meaning of morality. The story presents readers with questions about their own perceptions of the world and how it works. Readers must also make a leap of faith—is what Ralph experiences true and valid or just insane ramblings from a senile old man? Do you believe him or do you think King will chalk it up to a loss of mental faculties by the end of the narrative? These questions kept me turning pages along with his brilliant descriptions of a beautiful world that exists alongside our own. The text is rich and complex and swayed my decision to read more work by Stephen King! I can’t say much more than that without giving the story away! This is definitely a good started text for anyone unfamiliar with King's body of work. If you read it, let me know what you think!
4 darts out 5
Bookshelf Project Status: borrowed from a friend.