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Sleeping Beauties: A Novel Hardcover – September 26, 2017
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“Stephen King and son team up for a beauty of a horror tale [that is] epic, ambitious, heartbreaking and, when it comes to its central horrors, all too timely. Sleeping Beauties melds the elder King’s talent for exploring the darker sides of human nature when people are thrust into terrifying situations with his youngest son’s gift for juggling multiple genres and complex characters. The final chapters bring all their skills together in a fast-paced, explosive finale and emotional aftermath. A thought-provoking work that examines a litany of modern-day issues.”-- USA Today
“It’s a violent, dystopian thrill ride that will leave you horrified– and hooked.”--People
“Entertaining. . . Sleeping Beauties is a bulging, colourful epic; a super-sized happy meal, liberally salted with supporting characters and garnished with splashes of arterial ketchup. This epic feels so vital and fresh.”-- The Guardian
“King fans who enjoy his blunt language and vivid gore will find lots to like.”-- Associated Press
“A fast-paced thriller [that is] ambitious and sympathetic, Sleeping Beauties is both a love letter to women everywhere and an incisive look at what drives men to violence, neatly wrapped in enough fantasy elements to soften the more caustic edges of the commentary. From “Carrie” to “Dolores Claiborne” to “Lisey’s Story” and beyond, Stephen King’s compassion for women is an identifying characteristic of much of his work, and “Sleeping Beauties” continues the trend. The Kings have created deeply textured women to populate their book.”-- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“Sleeping Beauties is an ambitious work that combines some age-old Stephen King themes with a distinctly sci-fi premise. Sleeping Beauties is no “take your kid to work” project on Stephen King’s behalf. Owen King is an accomplished author in his own right, and their collaboration reflects positively on both. No matter which King was tapping the keys, readers will enjoy a riveting novel with plenty of characters to root for, and to root against … and, in another King trademark, to root both for and against.”-- Bangor Daily News
“This delicious first collaboration between Stephen King and his son Owen is a horror-tinged realistic fantasy that imagines what could happen if most of the women of the world fall asleep, leaving men on their own. The authors’ writing is seamless and naturally flowing. Once the action begins, [SLEEPING BEAUTIES] barrels along like a freight train.”-- Publishers Weekly
“Another horror blockbuster, Mercedes and all, from maestro King and his heir apparent…In a kind of untold Greek tragedy meets Deliverance meets—well, bits of Mr. Mercedes and The Shawshank Redemption, perhaps—King and King, father and son, take their time putting all the pieces into play: brutish men, resourceful women who've had quite enough, alcohol, and always a subtle sociological subtext, in this case of rural poverty and dreams sure to be dashed…A blood-splattered pleasure.”-- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Following the renewed interest in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and an increasing climate of wolf-whistle politics, this examination of gender stereotypes, systems of oppression, and pervasive misogyny within American culture feels especially timely…The large cast of characters allows for a multitude of narrative perspectives—from both the affected women and the men they’ve left behind. Violent, subversive, and compulsively readable. The true horror of this father-son-penned novel derives more from its unflinchingly realistic depiction of hatred and violence against women than from the supernatural elements.”-- Library Journal
“The novel provides enough action, thrills and humor to keep readers burning the midnight oil....There’s comfort to be found in tales such as this... Sleeping Beauties is a well-tooled horror thriller, a worthy venture from a productive family business.” —San Francisco Chronicle
About the Author
Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Sleeping Beauties (cowritten with his son Owen King), the short story collection The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, the Bill Hodges trilogy End of Watch, Finders Keepers, and Mr. Mercedes (an Edgar Award winner for Best Novel and now an AT&T Audience Network original television series), Doctor Sleep, and Under the Dome. His novel 11/22/63—a Hulu original television series event—was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller. His epic works The Dark Tower and It are the basis for major motion pictures. He is the recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.
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Unfortunately, Stephen and his son, Owen King, just didn't live up to my expectations and hopes. While the premise is incredible, I found the execution to be sorely lacking. This book is a slog. It's slow, and the majority of its 700 pages present an awful lot of leaves to be bored by. This sucker is jam-packed with characters, most of them one-note and forgettable, while others are simply uninteresting. Dr. Norcross, for instance - one of the lead male figures and prison psychologist (an Appalachian women's correctional facility is the main locale for the majority of Sleeping Beauties), Norcross has a heck of a backstory with his youth spent in the foster care system. The events that have shaped and built his life are wildly intriguing, but the adult we're presented with is pretty damn dull, and his marriage is on the rocks thanks to some half-baked and cliched marital melodrama the Kings tossed in. I might have found to reason to care about the slippery slope the Norcross's marriage was sliding down, but frankly I didn't much care for his wife, Lila, the town sheriff, either.
King (Stephen, at least; I haven't read any of Owen's work previously) is a master at building memorable characters, and yet I struggled to find any reason to sympathize or care about any of the what felt like hundreds of names dropped into this sucker. Even the central antagonist, Evie Black, with her cell phone video game obsession, penchant for sleeping above the covers, and Biblical fantasy roots, is a pale threat. If you're looking for personalities like Stuttering Bill, Roland, Pennywise, or Leeland Gaunt, you'll be sorely disappointed. I doubt Sleeping Beauties will be making its way to the top of legendary King titles anytime soon. Instead, it's more redolent of lesser King works, particularly Under the Dome, which I hated. But while Dome felt an awful lot like a remix of better, more memorable King hits, Sleeping Beauties merely feels redundant, hitting on a lot of the same derivative elements. It's a better book than Under the Dome to be sure, but once the women of the world start falling asleep and chaos ensues, Appalachia feels almost identical to Chester's Mill.
It's not all bad, thankfully. There are a few moments, here and there, that impressed me and convinced to stick with this book (and honestly, if it were anybody other than King, I would have quit this book pretty damn early on). Without spoiling too much, the polar opposites between Appalachia and Our Place were really well done; as one world burns, another is built, and those moments were intriguing as all get out. The nature of the cocoons enshrouding the sleeping women, and what happens when their sleep is disturbed, presented some fantastic moments of horror. And the last hundred pages or so showed the Kings hadn't forgotten to put some gas in the tank after all, giving us some pretty solid action to wrap everything up.
I've seen other reviewers comment on this novels' political nature and how the Kings were standing up on a soapbox. It's not an impression I walked away with, but this is a book about the sexes and what happens when the balance between men and women is significantly altered. The disparity between sexes is inherently political, but I never found this book to be extreme in its presentation of political ideas one way or another. Frankly, if Stephen and Owen had been more polemic Sleeping Beauties might have been way more interesting for it. As it stands, it's merely tepid at best.
SLEEPING BEAUTIES does not *feel* like a Stephen King novel. Not even close. The vocabulary is different, and characters, although similar in feel, are not quite right and there is far less development of the inner voices of each than is typical. The pacing is sluggish. And although I have never, ever thought this about any other SK novel, SLEEPING BEAUTIES was just too damn long. Instead of reading the whole thing in 2 or 3 days as per usual for a long SK novel, this one took forever. Something like 8 or 9 days. I never got into the "just one more page, just one more page" mode that has happened with everything else I've read. It was a struggle to get through it and I finally made up my mind to get it over and read the last 250 pages in one go until early in the morning today.
So what's the deal? Pretty obviously (and again, just like with THINNER, only a guess on my part) most of the prose was written by Owen King, not Stephen King, regardless of the order of the authors. There are little hints and flashes of SK here (the character of Don Peters being one, the overall dual world scenario and a few others) but by and large this just didn't feel much or sound like SK. The characters were mostly flat. The interpersonal relationships, usually a great strength of SK, were blurry. In fact, Joe Hill's writing is much more like SK’s than this writing was.
I never understood what Evie was or where she came from or why. She just didn't make any sense. Yes, we're talking fantasy here but even with fantasy stuff has to make sense and/or be explicable in some manner. There have to bee some rules. Nor was the nature or rationale of the deal she worked out with Clint, (who by the way was one of the least likable protagonists in a novel that I have read in quite a while) clear. It was more akin to something reminiscent of Abraham and God in the Old Testament viz the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah than modern fantasy.
And for those of you constantly complain about King's penchant for letting his political views color his fiction (As it happens, I am often bemused by this comment, usually failing to notice explicit political messages in novels where people complain about it the most), most of the entire novel is a giant screed against our "modern male dominated society". Some of the female inmates were sort of interesting and/or had a legitimate beef, but the whole women versus man conflict that was the backbone of the story was way, way overcooked, and has been handled better by others in many other novels. Many or most of the men here were gun-toting, violent, hard-drinking drinking sexually predatory charicatures of real people, and I was turned off by the suggestion that men are basically bad and women are basically good. Bah Humbug. So now I see where many of the really bad reviews came from. In this case, the Stephen King bashing that is au courant seems justified. Of course I'll be around for the the next SK novel. I just hope it's the pure unadulterated stuff. Owen needs some seasoning before he’s ready for prime time.
So? I thought the premise of this sounded interesting.
Wow, was I in for a disappointment.
I can't see how Sleeping Beauties could be compared to any of King's past novels. To me, knowing King's writing style,
He didn't write it. His son did.
To me there was none of King's character development, no continuity in plot!
Why in God's name did it take place in a prison community , and what were The Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad references all about ? I mean it rambled here there so much I could not follow it.
If anyone says this resembles any of Kings past writing,
Eve interested me. And she seemed like a character from American Horror Story Roanoke. Was she a witch, druid. Mother Earth ?
I can't say it's the first bad King novel I've read because it's not his writing. I've read enough Stephen King to know that.
2 seperate writers ye shall stay, please!!!
Father and Son.
(A fox too?)
Most recent customer reviews
This book is easily the worst book with Stephen King's name on it I've read. (For the record I've read all of his books.Read more