Sleepless: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Sleepless by Cyn BalogEverything is a joke to Griffin Colburn from the usual pranks and hijinks right down to his relationship with his girlfriend, Julia Devine.

So, really, maybe it isn’t so surprising when Julia thinks the news of Griffin’s death is a practical joke. Maybe it isn’t so surprising that he seems to be playing mean pranks on her . . . after, well, you know.

Julia is used to being the center of attention for all the wrong reasons. She’s used to the whispers and the gossip.

Eron DeMarchelle knows all of Julia’s secrets. He knows what happened to her as a child. He knows her dreams.

Eron is a Sandman, a Sleepbringer, who has been watching Julia since the day she was born helping her sleep and find rest. No longer human, he shouldn’t feel a connection to Julia. But he does.

As his time as a Sandman draws to a close, Eron has a chance to see Julia as a human. To talk to her and maybe have something more. That is, if he can keep her safe long enough to actually talk to her in Sleepless (2010) by Cyn Balog.

At 215 pages (hardcover) Sleepless is a quick read with a lot of appealing elements. The book is written in chapters alternating between Julia and Eron’s first person narrations.

Sleepless is also a strange book to review because I really did enjoy it even though there were a lot of issues with the story.

Eron is a charming character. Though naive and initially stiff, he quickly grows on readers. Even his lack of understanding about simple, rather ubiquitous, slang eventually makes sense considering Eron spends most of his time in the human world watching his charges sleep. Once you can get past the initial creepiness of Eron’s job as a Sandman (and about putting his charges to sleep being called a “seduction”–ew) he is actually very well-meaning and not creepy at all.

Julia, unfortunately, is less endearing though she does have her moments. She talks a lot about not wanting to be “Front-page Julia” or be seen as a victim anymore and how Griffin (and his best friend Bret) helped her develop a thick skin while acting as her buffers to the rest of the world.

The thing is, Julia kind of is a victim. She mentions learning to give as good as she got from Griffin, but he still comes across as a verbally abusive boyfriend.* Who proceeds to profess his undying (er, figuratively) love for Julia upon his demise. That might be possible to overlook as banter gone wrong, except that Julia also lets another character forcibly kiss her (twice) against her will because she wants to be nice. Then, when someone stops this character, she defends his actions since he’s such a “good friend” to her.

There are a lot of reasons Julia could be so misguided, most of them even work with the story although nothing is ever stated explicitly. I’m not even sure why the troubling aspects of this story bothered me so little. Maybe it has something to do with Eron being the main character and beyond reproach and the good guy and there to protect Julia? I’m not sure.

Some of the writing is also awkward.**

There’s a thing called “willing suspension of disbelief” (I learned about in a film studies class, maybe you’ve seen it attached to literature) where basically for a premise to work you have to temporarily surrender your logic.*** Sleepless works if you have enough willing suspension of disbelief.

If you can get past some of the fundamental problems mentioned here (by suspending that disbelief) and just want to sit back and enjoy a fairly straightforward supernatural romance, Sleepless might be it.

*And just plain mean. He gave Julia rabbit ears in their prom photos. Who does that? Is it weird to admit that was the moment I knew Griffin was kind of evil?

**Two words: “hip tumor”

***Star Trek works because the audience believes that gravity can be simulated in space, thereby willingly suspending their disbelief upon seeing the crew of the Enterprise walking around instead of . . . floating.

Possible Pairings: A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow, Wings by Aprilynne Pike,Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott, A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan, Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde, Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

Exclusive Bonus Content: I was going to make this cover image smaller but the alignment is so perfect and the cover is so nice that I’m going to leave it. I also want to point out the flower (I don’t know what kind of flower it is. If you do, tell me in the comments!) and the crescent moon. In addition to putting the character’s name at the top of each chapter, the moon is incorporated into the top of Eron’s first chapter pages while Julia’s first pages are adorned with the flower at the bottom of the page. I don’t have the book with me (I knew there was a reason I kept the books until the review was written) but the design is very indicative of the American edition of A Little Wanting Song and both books are published by Random House so I’m going to go out on a limb and say someone at that publishing house had a hand in both books.