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The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – January 26, 2010

80 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fifteen-year-old Darren Bennett lives in an entirely recognizable teenage world: he's obsessed with science fiction and video games, bullied by his older brother, and completely baffled by the opposite sex. On the other hand, Darren's new, socially awkward best friend, Eric Lederer, lives a life unrecognizable to everyone: Eric can't sleep, at all, ever, a revelation he shares with Darren in strictest confidence. After overcoming his shock, Darren delights in exploring Eric's anomalous condition through a series of trials involving, among other things, roofies. When a typical high school fight over a girl leads Darren to tell a stranger about Eric's bizarre secret, Darren is caught up in the kind of fight-for-your-life adventure he so often daydreams about. Combining a coming-of-age tale with science fiction, Pierson performs a nimble, satisfying balancing act, with enough drama of the day-to-day high school variety to keep the more fantastic elements in check. The result is a fast-moving narrative with an authentic, heartfelt voice, plenty of laughs and spot-on cultural references, and a raucous climax. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

Like any right-thinking teenager who has grown up on Star Wars and comic books, Darren knows that if there’s anything unique about you, men in suits and dark glasses will show up and take you away. This knowledge takes on a new immediacy when Darren discovers that his new best bud, Eric, has a strange, well, superpower: he literally never sleeps and never has to! The good news about this is that it gives Eric lots of time to think about TimeBlaze, the multiplatform sci-fi epic he and Darren are creating. The bad news is that what they imagine starts to become real, including, yes, a man in a suit and dark glasses! In his first novel Pierson, a member of the sketch comedy group Derrick Comedy, has written a witty coming-of-age novel with some engaging twists (anything is possible, remember). And in Darren and Eric, he has created two engaging and memorable co-conspirators and co-protagonists. --Michael Cart

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (January 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307474615
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307474612
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #692,058 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Pasiphae on December 8, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Eric and Darren are two high school invisibles who bond over Darren's drawings and Eric's secret: Eric is the boy who couldn't sleep and never had to. Darren's observations and narrating voice are hilarious and spot-on as far as diction. The "voice" is as close to perfect as I can imagine for a teenage boy. All the side characters, in particular Darren's brother, are perfectly drawn; the high school students, the mother who just got tired of being a wife and mom and began to live as if she were neither while still married, the dad whose only real question of his sons is "Got your phone on you?", and the hectic older brother whose accents, drug use and sexual misadventures echo through his brother's life in a menacing but reassuring way.

Is it a funny book? It is an EXTREMELY funny book when Darren is commenting on his peers, or describing his own social awkwardness. I'd throw in some quotes but there are too many swear words for the review to be published in the passages I love most. And the universe Darren and Eric craft, while eye-rollingly absurd, is also very true-to-form for high school boys. I was more charmed by the drawings than the taxonomy of the created world, because the art is credibly the work of an untrained high school boy. In fact, Darren knows the limitations of his own skills. He draws people standing, looking straight ahead, and prefers to draw glasses on faces because the eyes give him trouble. But his drawings are enough to fuel and express his inner visions. When those inner visions take over his life, it's shocking and yet somehow believable.

This is a more complex novel than many of the reviews up here seem to suggest.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By brian d foy VINE VOICE on October 24, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I wasn't too keen on starting this book given its description, but it turns out whoever wrote that probably hasn't read the book. It's not the juvenile fiction the description makes it out to be, or the buddy story you'd expect.

The characters are in those odd years in high school where they they try on new things and drop them just as quickly, often for reasons they can't explain, even to themselves. They like this band one week when the object of their crush also likes it, but hate it when the crush also dissipates. They are still traveling from liking what the people around them like merely from exposure to figuring out their own tastes and desires.

Darren, a loner who fancies himself an artist but recognizes the pretention in it, reluctantly accepts the friendship of Eric, the weirdo kid, as they collaborate on Darren's trilogy of movies drawn from his serious of novels based on his drawings, which people think are really good. The drawings in the book are crude and two-dimensional, showing that these characters still sincerely think quite highly of their talents as well as being caught up in the idea of writing a novel or making a movie without the actual interest in novel writing or movie making. Darren, for the most part, doodles during his free time. He realizes this, but is afraid to admit it to himself.

Enter Christine, the theater chick, and also the worst archetype for a loner like Darren to adore. The slighest interest from her is enough of a hook. As he loses his virginity to her, more of his own identity starts to form. For him, it's a rite of passage and an important signifier. For her, it's just something to do because she's horny. She's in it not for Darren but for the experience.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Ken C. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 24, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
DC Pierson's ambitious debut novel takes 153 pages (out of 228) to find a plot, but the real reward (if any is to be found) resides in its characterization and voice. Trouble is, a lot might depend upon the reader's age. The book is tailor-written for Generation Y (we haven't reached "Z" yet, have we?) and guys especially. In fact, though he is referring to the word "mech" at the time, the book's protagonist himself utters these prophetic words: "If you are a kid of a certain age and male you will know what I mean." Likewise, if you are 20-something or younger, male, and a self-described "nerd," then you'll probably appreciate the long conversations and inner ruminations of this protagonist -- Darren Bennett -- whose idea of a fun day is to get away from the madding high school crowd, go home to his room, and draw cyborgs.

OK, so now that you're prepared for 16-year-old characters saying "like" a lot, you should know that not much happens early on beyond Darren becoming best friends with a kid named Eric who's equally interested in science fiction, fantasy, and drawing. The hitch (or "angle" as it's called in the book business)? Eric doesn't sleep. Ever. By way of explanation, Eric tells Darren, "I've never said it out loud before, but it's like, there's me and there's everyone else in the world, and everyone else is in a constant state of joining me and leaving me. When they leave, it's sort of lonely, I suppose, but I have time to think and do things uninterrupted. I go for walks." Without the escape of sleep, the world is a prison of sorts for Eric -- but in Darren's science fiction-loving eyes, it makes him not just a fellow nerd, but a miracle of the universe to be treasured. That is, until he steals Darren's first girlfriend ever. That's when the plot finally kicks in.
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