I believe Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and his son Owen may be the best book I have read this year. It was cool having a King book set somewhere other than Maine (or Mid-World). This one is set somewhere in Appalachia (think West Virginia/Kentucky/Southern Ohio) and it definitely is a nice change of pace. I was absolutely hooked from the beginning and loved just about every aspect of the book.
The story starts out in the town of Dooling, where a mysterious woman is arrested for murder. As this is happening, women all over the world fall asleep and do not wake up. The grow some sort of weird cocoon around their head. Attempting to remove the odd substance can have dire consequences.
The first part of the book deals with the women falling asleep and introducing us to the characters. After that, the story moves on to the fall out of the women falling asleep. And from their we see the supernatural element of the story and perhaps what can be done to save all the women. The book takes many of the modern problems we face in our society and shows how they could be exacerbated during a worldwide crisis such as this.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who is a King fan, or a fan of great stories. From here on out, there will be spoilers as I discuss some of my favorite parts of the books.
-The differences and similarities between Clint and Frank. The book set up this idea that they would probably have some great showdown (both come off as unassuming tough guys). And yet, at the end, they are able to avert that fight and use their words to find a way out of the problem. Also, they have a nice moment where they share a beer together that made my heart tingle.
-I loved that the book did not end on a “they all lived happily ever after” or “the entire world learned their lesson.” In fact, some of our main characters, like Clint and Lila seem to be worse off. The women from the prison seem to be better off, but the world does not know about the events with Evie, so will things really change for women around the world?
-Just the individual stories of the women, such as Van, Jeanette, Angel, etc. I loved the little romance between Jarod and Mary, but then was sad at how it all played out.
-Was Evie the Queen of the Fairie? She mentions that Shakespeare wrote about her once and my thought was A Midsummer Night’s Dream‘s Queen Titania, but maybe I am wrong. She does say that she is just an emissary as well, so is she the emissary for Mother Earth?
-My first thought when the women wake up in the other world is that they were just way in the future and that all the men had wiped themselves out. But it looks like it was just was a pocket world created to host the women.
-I think being a new dad to a little girl really helped this book resonate with me. There was a part where one of the women falls asleep, but walks her baby to some guy, which really made me think what would it be like if this happened? What would I do if Payton was falling asleep? Would I be desperate like Frank? Would I have the foresight to hide Lindsey and our daughter?
-Also, the birth of Tiffany’s son in the other world was sad. At first I thought the boy was going to die (King did an amazing job describing the birth, it was painful to hear and reminded me so much of what I witnessed), but then the horrible realization that the mother would not make it, definitely hit me. I was driving to work one morning listening to it with tears in my eyes.
-The audiobook featured a nice piece at the end where Stephen and Owen describe the process of writing a book together. It was pretty cool and I thought they should write another book, but also add Joe in there as well. Have one of them start it, write the opening, build the characters, and set the stage (the elder King would probably be the best for this), then without knowing what the story is about, have the next one write the middle, and then the conclusion by the last person. Just an idea King family…
-I did not catch any references to the Dark Tower, although at one point when Frank is assembling his crew to storm the prison, he says that there are 19, but then someone else joins and it makes 20. Obviously 19 was an important number in the DT series. Did anyone else catch other references?