A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan
Rosalinda Fitzroy had been asleep for 62 years when she was woken by a kiss. Locked away in the chemically-induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten sub-basement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now, her parents and her first love are long dead, and Rose – hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire – is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat. Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes – or be left without any future at all.
A Long, Long Sleep is one of those books I’ve been hearing lots of great things about on other people’s blogs, so when I was offered a chance to review it I couldn’t turn it down! I was a bit dubious due to it being likened to the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty, with a science fiction twist – sometimes retellings of fairytales just don’t bring anything new to the story to make it worth your while. But I must hold my hands up and give credit where credit is due, and say that Anna Sheehan successfully proved me wrong, by making this story entirely her own and one which will no doubt get teens reading more science fiction.
The novel jumps right into Rosalinda Fitzroy being awoken for the first time in sixty-two years, having no idea where she is, or what year she is in. She has no idea that her parents and everyone she has ever loved, including her boyfriend Xavier, is probably dead. The novel is told in the first person from Rose’s point of view, so we see everything around her just as she does for the very first time. She is at times an odd character. She has led somewhat of a sheltered life due to her controlling parents who frequently put her into a state of sleep for several days or weeks at a time whenever it was inconvenient for them to have her around. To Rose, this is normal and she sees no reason for it to be questioned. However, since meeting Bren, the boy who kissed her and woke her up sixty-two years later, she has come to realise that her parents’ actions were not as normal as they seemed. There are some truly heartbreaking moments when she comes to terms with the fact that her parents put her life on hold just for the sake of convenience. She has missed out on so much of her life including many of Xavier’s birthdays, which means they become much closer in age as Xavier ages and Rose doesn’t during her stasis.
Sheehan has created some wonderful characters in this novel, especially with Rose and Bren, but my favourite of all has to be Otto – a hybrid created using alien DNA, and one of the few surviving genetically engineered left. He cannot talk and communicates by touching another person and speaking through their minds. This makes for a very interesting friendship between Otto and Rose, and one which I adored. Him and Rose are both considered outsiders at the school – people that simply don’t belong there, and it is through this that a special bond is created between the two of them. Of course, Bren is the love-interest in the story, but I personally found Otto a much more interesting character, and this is a little bit of a flaw of the story for me. You just can’t make another male character more interesting than the love interest!
This, sadly isn’t the novel’s only flaws. There are some alarming similarities to Beth Revis’ Across the Universe, and at times I just couldn’t decide which I liked more, and I’m still non-the-wiser on that one. I also hated the Plastine – a deadly indestructible machine that is intent on killing Rose. I just found the whole thing a bit gimmicky and not quite on par with the rest of the novel. The novel also lacked a lot of world-building. I didn’t really understand the whole interplanetary empire thing, and thought that Sheehan could have gone into a lot more detail here, just to create a more realistic setting.
I also have to say that before I read this book, I’d heard plenty of people online saying that this book had made them cry because they found it so emotional. Sadly, it had no such effect on me. Don’t get me wrong, the quality of Sheehan’s writing is good and her characters are strong, but I didn’t bring me anywhere near to tears.
Overall, I’d have to say I enjoyed this book, but I didn’t love it. I think Sheehan will be one to watch out for in future, but this book didn’t quite pull at my heart strings enough to make much of an impact on me. But who knows, maybe it will make an impact on you?
A Long, Long Sleep is out now, published by Gollancz. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy to review!