Friday, May 31, 2013

Review: Insomnia by JR Johansson

  Goodreads synopsis: It’s been four years since I slept, and I suspect it is killing me.

Instead of sleeping, Parker Chipp enters the dream of the last person he’s had eye contact with. He spends his nights crushed by other people’s fear and pain, by their disturbing secrets—and Parker can never have dreams of his own. The severe exhaustion is crippling him. If nothing changes, Parker could soon be facing psychosis and even death.

Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that is utterly addictive. Parker starts going to bizarre lengths to catch Mia’s eye every day. Everyone at school thinks he’s gone over the edge, even his best friend. And when Mia is threatened by a true stalker, everyone thinks it’s Parker.

Suffering blackouts, Parker begins to wonder if he is turning into someone dangerous. What if the monster stalking Mia is him after all?

Lynne's Review: I gave this one five great big, wide-eyed and sleepless stars! I LOVED it! INSOMNIA by J.R. Johansson is one of the most original/amazing story lines I've come across in YA in a very long time!

Parker hasn't slept in years. He goes to bed each night, but instead of a nice, peaceful, restful night of sleeping, he is forced to watch the dreams and/or nightmares of the last person he made eye contact with each day.

Now, stop for just a minute! can you imagine the dreams you'd be forced to watch? What would the lady at the grocery checkout dream about? Or the security guard at the mall? How about the big, burly guy next to you in gym class? or .... your parents?
yeah, pretty scary thoughts huh?
I have to admit this book has certainly given ME reason to wonder about the dreams of people I make eye contact with throughout the day. And I can honestly say, I wouldn't want to watch anyone's dreams - or nightmares, for that matter - other than my own (and mine are plenty scary enough!).

After nearly four years of not sleeping properly, Parker's health is severely deteriorating. People are noticing that he's not well, but only Parker is aware how close he is to actually dying. He sees the warning signs: He is forgetting things and he's unfocused and falling behind in his schoolwork. He's lost weight and he can't seem to control his hands from shaking and trembling. His mom and his closest friends (who are clueless to the real problem) think Parker is on some kind of serious drugs... if only his problems were that easy.

A near car accident causes Parker to make eye contact with a girl he's never seen before. Watching her peaceful dreams that night, for the first time in years, Parker finds himself capable of sleeping - inside her dreams.
And then, it's almost as bad as it would be if he WERE on drugs. When he discovers Mia is new to his school, he memorizes her schedule and starts following her around. He becomes so addicted to this girl and the power she has over him, that he's more or less stalking her ... desperately trying to catch Mia's eye by the end of each day, and (understandably so) he's scaring the ever-loving shit out of her!

And now, someone is sending Mia very threatening emails. She's terrified of what the emails contain and since Parker has started obsessing about her, she's nearly certain the emails are coming from him.
And as she becomes more creeped out by his behavior, Parker discovers not all of Mia's dreams are peaceful. He witnesses her nightmares - sad memories of her tragic past that turn into horrible dreams twisted by her personal fear of fires and paralyzing nightmares of being chased by an evil monster who is out to kill her. In her dreams and in real life.
Mia thinks the monster is Parker. Parker's friends are beginning to suspect it might be Parker. And worse still, blackouts leave his memory spotty and he's caught himself not knowing his own whereabouts throughout the last few weeks, so even Parker can't help but wonder if he really IS the monster in Mia's life.

They don't know who it is .... WE don't know who it is.... O.M.G!! WHO.IS.IT?!?!?!

The pacing in this book is fantastic. I stayed on the edge of my seat deciding WHO the monster was going to be!! turns out I was correct at least twice during the many guesses - each guess thinking I was spot-on for sure - and I was still surprised at the end!

In all, we are treated with a very realistically written male POV (yay!) - I have mad respect for any author who is capable of writing the opposite gender in such a believable way - I loved Parker from the beginning. He does some pretty awful stuff, but he's actually a really likable guy. Someone who quickly has you rooting for him, whether you like what he's doing or not, you know what he's going through and you understand why he does what he does, so you want to see him succeed.

Insomnia is the first book in The Night Walkers trilogy. So while most the stuff is pretty much wrapped up by the end of this book, there are sill some big questions left on the table. It stands to reason we will be able to follow Parker and his life - hopefully uncovering the deeper secrets his mom may be hiding about his dad, as well as discovering the many uses (and misuses?) for Parkers abilities.
I for one can't wait to read more!

I would totally recommend this book to other YA readers (ages mature teen and up) especially those who appreciate a really well written, male protagonist, as well as to young readers looking for a psychological thriller hiding out inside a great, and well-told story. Ultimately, INSOMNIA is about a boy who doesn't know if deep down he's a monster or hero, right now, he's just trying not to die.

In full disclosure, I won an autographed ARC edition of this book (along with signed bookmarks & other cool swag: shown below) from the author, J.R. Johansson, during a guest spot and giveaway hosted on Mindy McGinnis' blog at

More information about the author and/or links to pre/order the book INSOMNIA (which I recommend) can be found at 

rating: 5 stars 


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