Thursday, June 6, 2013

Review: Insomnia by J.R. Johansson

Review: Insomnia by J.R. Johansson
Release date: June 7th, 2013
Publisher: Flux
Rating: Intense, creepy, heart-pounding, and thrilling!

 Insomnia (The Night Walkers, #1)

 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?

The cover: I LOVE this cover, so much I even put it on my Top Ten Twenty-Four Favorite Covers list the other week. It's visually arresting but also somewhat creepy and disturbing. It perfectly captures the mood of this book.

The story: So, confession time: I'm a total insomniac. Not nearly as bad as Parker, obviously, but just bad enough that I sympathized so much with poor sleepless, exhausted Parker. Because Parker doesn't sleep--ever. It looks like he's asleep to others, but really he's awake and traveling through the dreams of the last person he made eye contact. And it's hell. The dreams are usually disturbing or violent and always manage to suck the energy right out of him. He's starting to unravel so badly that his mother thinks he's on drugs and his best friend Finn and Finn's little sister Addie (who Parker totally has a crush on, because she's awesome) are getting concerned. Parker can feel his own death coming as he slips into dream after violent, unnerving dream.

Until he makes eye contact with Mia, and for the first time, he can sleep. He can sleep inside her dream, which is peaceful, calm, and without any "layers" (Johansson's way of doing dreams is also really cool).

After that, Parker does basically everything he can to ensure that Mia is the last person he makes eye contact with everyday. Obviously, this is not a very normal thing to do, and once somebody starts stalking Mia and sending her threatening notes, everybody thinks its Parker. Even Parker isn't sure whether it's him or not. There's a frantic desperation to this book, and a perpetual uncertainty, because you never know what's going on. It's awesome. You don't know if Parker's going crazy or not. All he wants to do is stop the guy trying to hurt Mia, save his two awesome friends, and just get some damn sleep already.

Reading this book actually makes you tired.

Parker's voice sounded so real. Johansson never tried to "over-boy" him (*coughcough September Girls), but still he always sounded authentic and even funny. Addie and Finn are my two favorite characters in the whole book. I loved them the second they showed up on the page. Addie and Parker have a really cute thing going on, and you spend the whole book just waiting for those two crazy kids to make it work.

And the twists. The twists abound! The plot flies at a breakneck pace, with some new horror always popping up when it's least convenient. Couple that with Parker's possibly unreliable narration, and you've got a wonderfully unsettling read. Parker doesn't know if he's Mia's stalker or not, but he does know he's seeing things that aren't there, and that his windows are open when he doesn't remember opening them. 


I'm a big wuss, so sometimes I had to put the book down and take a couple breaths. Because GAH.

The last half of the book is just CRAZY action, and while I'm not one hundred percent sold on the resolution of Mia's storyline, and there were one or two small logic gaps (as my friend Shelver pointed out in her review), I did like the final climax. It was so horrifying and intense and scary and awesome and I hope it never freaking happens to me in my life.

If you like these kind of psychological and supernatural thrillers, and the concept of a guy who can walk into dreams (and often tries to help the people who's dreams he witnesses), then I definitely suggest you check out Insomnia. It's a big pile of messed-up, disturbing fun. Just don't read it right before bed.


  1. I LOVE this post! Thank you so much for taking the time to read & review, Gillian! :) Those gifs were perfect!

  2. I've heard some not so great things about this book so I was super excited to read this review! I have a feeling that I would like it more than I thought I would now! Thanks for putting this awesome review together!

    1. I know, some people didn't like it, but I really did! Everybody's different. I recommend giving it a shot!

  3. YAAAAAAAY!!! I'm so glad you liked it! I wish I could succinctly recap a book like you do. I rambled so much describing the setup. And thanks for the shout-out! :)

    1. Ha! I'm surprised you think my style is succinct. This review is, admittedly, shorter than most, but I've always thought more is more. I'm always AMAZED at the people who can write two paragraph reviews (without gifs, even!).

  4. Been hearing lots of good things about Insomnia! I don't read many thrillers but stories about dreams have always intrigued me. I also tend to like guy POVs.

  5. I'm reading this one now, so it's nice to hear that you enjoyed this so much! I look forward to Parker's unreliable narration and the numerous twists!

  6. Ooh, this one sounds really good and creepy!


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