Monday, February 15, 2016

NOD by Adrian Barnes

This was a book I stumbled upon in the bookstore one day. I find myself starting in the Sci-Fi section more and more lately. I don't know, something about considering all the weird things that could happen in the "not-too-distant-future" is particularly intriguing to me lately. So what's this one about... It's set in the essential "now." Suddenly, one morning, it turns out almost no-one slept the night before. Only something like 1 in 10,000 people actually got any sleep. Worldwide. The book is told from the perspective of one of the "Sleepers" (as opposed to those who consider themselves the "Awakened") in a sort of journal-diary format. While it starts on Day 18, it then goes back to the beginning and progresses day by day. It's a shortish novel, only about 250 pages, and has a good pace, not dwelling on things (including any science, e.g.) for too long.

This is the synopsis from Goodreads: "Dawn breaks over Vancouver and no one in the world has slept the night before, or almost no one. A few people, perhaps one in ten thousand, can still sleep, and they’ve all shared the same golden dream. After six days of absolute sleep deprivation, psychosis will set in. After four weeks, the body will die. In the interim, panic ensues and a bizarre new world arises in which those previously on the fringes of society take the lead. Paul, a writer, continues to sleep while his partner Tanya disintegrates before his eyes, and the new world swallows the old one whole."

Framing the story itself are a series of uncommon or out-of-usage phrases or words that color and assist with the development of the story itself. I was impressed by Barnes' ability to really give us a sense of the actual character of the people populating his book as we watch everything disintegrate - people, personalities, relationships, society, etc. I was pulled along through the story, trying to figure out where it would all go, while fascinated at the various declines and how they played out. I LOVED how Barnes considered various aspects of psychological and physical decline and did not just go with one or the most obvious one. And I was very intrigued by the children .. I'm still not sure if I understand that whole line. Do I? ...

You know, the more I think about this one, the more I am impressed with it. The more I liked it. The more I'm thinking... I may just go back and read it again. Maybe someday soon.
There are a couple of R'ish-rated scenes.. a little more graphic than I was really expecting.. but they are relatively brief and not particularly gratuitous. Although it felt very "raw" while reading it, in retrospect, I think they made perfect sense as part of a sort of anthropological study of the deterioration of the human mind on no sleep.

... All in all, a very strong FOUR of five stars. I might have liked to know a little more about the children. But otherwise, a really impressive study in the form of a very interesting story. :)
Recommended if this is at all intriguing to you.

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