Review: INSOMNIA (The Night Walkers #1)

Review: INSOMNIA (The Night Walkers #1)
The Night Walkers #1

Written by: J.R. Johansson
Published by: Flux
Release date: June 8th 2013
Genres: Mystery, Paranormal, Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 360
Format: Paperback
Buy: B&N, Amazon
Add on: Goodreads

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?

My Thoughts

Parker Chipp hasn’t slept in four years – at least, his mind hasn’t. When he was 12, instead of falling asleep and dreaming his own dreams, his mind started entering the dreams of the last person he made eye contact with. He hasn’t gotten any rest since then: His mind is fully conscious while “Watching” others’ dreams, even if his body isn’t. And after four years of this, being a Watcher is taking its toll on Parker. It’s just a matter of time before his body succumbs to his extreme exhaustion – but he’s afraid his mind will be the first to go.

His doctor confirms that “psychosis and death” are what await the extremely-sleep-deprived, and all Parker’s fears look like they’ll become a reality. But when he almost runs into a girl after running a stop sign, and enters her dreams that night, he actually sleeps. And he thinks his problems are solved. Except, when his attempts to catch Mia’s eye every day become more and more desperate, and then a stalker starts sending her threatening messages, Parker realizes he’s finally losing control – could it be him sending those messages? Parker sets out to discover the truth – hopefully before he loses control completely.

What I wanted from this book:

  1. A believable narrator.
  2. A creepy psychological thriller.
  3. A plot that kept me guessing.
  4. A romance, if there was one, that didn’t overshadow any of the above.

What I got from this book:

  • All of the above.

(1) Since the MC is a guy, and the story is told from his point of view, I wanted him to be awesome. I love male narrators – and I’m happy to say Parker is no exception. I really enjoyed Parker, both as the narrator and as a character – he’s interesting and complex. He’s a decent person, and really only wants a normal life, but lack of sleep paired with some of the things he’s seen in people’s dreams has given him a darker outlook on life. (2) And while he is a believable narrator in the sense that his voice comes across as “relatable”/”authentic”/etc, he also comes across as… well, slightly unhinged, at times. And he’s definitely not a reliable narrator, which was creepy, but also really cool.

As for the plot (3), I did guess what the outcome would be close to the start of the book, but that didn’t keep me from second-guessing myself at every corner, and at once point actually deciding that I was dead wrong. And I loved that constant feeling of unpredictability – it feels like you’re there in Parker’s head, getting confused and freaking out right alongside him.

Finally, (4) I read plenty of books where the romance is a focus – this wasn’t one where I wanted that to be the case. The blurb said Psychological/Paranormal Thriller, and gosh darn it, that is what I wanted – no frills or disguising the romance in a “thriller” package. But I had nothing to worry about. There is a love interest for Parker (though it’s not the one that you’d expect from the blurb), and it is mostly a sub-plot. I never felt like it was shouting at me to Pay Attention To The Cute Couple. And what I really appreciated was that the romantic interest was, first and foremost, a friend to Parker when he needed one.

Which brings me to a related but unexpected aspect that I loved. While Parker faces a lot of stuff alone, because he’s scared and doesn’t want to admit to people that he’s probably going crazy, there’s also a moment where he admits to himself that he needs help, and he goes to his best friend, Finn, to get that help. He’s not always this smart (I’ll cut him some slack, considering the whole psychosis thing), but I really appreciate it when a main character doesn’t decide to do things Totally On His/Her Own and actually decides to ask for help. Additionally, I really liked the friendship between Parker and Finn. We’re not just told that they’d been best friends for a long time – they act and talk and hang out like they know each other well, and I really liked the established-friendship vibe they had.

I’m also really glad that there’s going to be a book 2! The ending opens up a lot of possibilities for expanding on the whole “Watcher” thing – I just hope it’s able to pull off a similar creepiness to Insomnia, because that’s what I loved about this book. Fingers crossed!

4 thoughts on “Review: INSOMNIA (The Night Walkers #1)

  1. Okay, I’ll admit that when I first read the premise for this book and saw the cover, I was mildly intrigued and curious to see how bloggers liked it. But I wasn’t super excited to read it. Now, after reading your review, I am legitimately considering giving this a try. It sounds better than I thought it would be, and, like you, I love how it’s a psychological thriller and that the romance isn’t heavily focused on. Great review, Nikki! :)

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