August 3, 2010

Sleepless: Review

I was excited about Cyn Balog's novel Sleepless right from the beginning because of the fresh, fabulous-sounding premise, and I'm happy to say that it does not disappoint!

Eron DeMarchelle is a Sandman - yes, the kind that sprinkle sand into your eyes so you'll go to sleep. He's been at the job for almost a hundred years - ever since he died young in another century - and he's very close to becoming human again. All Eron needs is to train a replacement Sandman before his hundred-year anniversary.

Julia's a girl with a tragic past: she never talks about the incident that left her with scars on her face when she was seven years old. Trouble is, she's got an equally tragic present: her boyfriend Griffin just died in a car crash, and his best friend Bret now seems to want more from Julia than she cares to give.

The catch? Julia is Eron's favorite charge, and one that he's become a little more attached to than a Sandman ever should. And the apprentice Sandman who's going to be taking over for Eron? None other than Julia's recently deceased boyfriend...

The narrative alternates between Eron and Julia's perspectives in a style that really works for this book. Both Eron's and Julia's voices are true to the times they were raised in - Eron's is decidedly old-fashioned, and Julia's very much 21st-century. The characters Cyn Balog creates are delightful, multi-faceted personalities (with the possible exceptions of Bret and Griffin, who, let's face it, the reader isn't really intended to like.)

I enjoyed Eron's voice right away; it was such a refreshing change from the modern viewpoint of Julia. True, he's a bit opinionated and stuck-up sometimes, but he really does care a great deal for Julia as well as his other charges, and his chivalrous attitude stands out in stark contrast with Griffin's crude manners. Also, I loved seeing him react to the modern world and all its conveniences for the first time!

Julia's character, on the other hand, it took me longer to warm up to, although eventually I did. I found her somewhat irritating at the beginning, mostly because I didn't understand why she would want to date a guy like Griffin to begin with (who seemed like a jerk!) But once we get a little more background to her story and what has shaped her outlook on life, it makes more sense. Her personality is gradually fleshed out through her interactions with her mother, Bret, and Eron, and it's great to see her realizing that what Griffin once offered her she doesn't want or need anymore.

The mystery of Julia's past added another angle to the story that kept me reading, although I think it was dragged out a bit too long before the truth was revealed. Still, as a hook it definitely worked! Suspense was also added in the form of a love...pentagon? Griffin's still in love with Julia, but so is his best friend Bret; Julia's not really sure who she's in love with; Eron knows exactly who he cares for but for him it's forbidden. Add to this Chimere, one of the Original Sleepbringers (who was never human) who seems to be making a play for both Eron and Griffin, and you have quite a tangled web of romance.

I really liked seeing the world of the Sandmen the author creates; it brings to life the Sandman folklore and makes it a good deal more complex. The Sleepbringers have certain talents (for instance, speaking through dreams and turning invisible) and also certain rules they must follow (no touching humans or human objects). If I have one complaint about this it's that I'd like to better understand how the Sandman's presence in dreams works. Why Julia didn't recognize Eron the first time she saw him, given that later she remembers he's the one who took her places in her dreams? Also, how does Eron manage to wake Julia up when Griffin's her Sandman and Eron is human?

The more serious concern I have is the ending, which was just a bit too pat for believability. The romances are all straightened out with amazingly little difficulty (considering how complicated everything was) and Julia's past is not explained fully enough for my taste. Then everything wraps up really quickly - abruptly, in fact - without even mentioning what happens to one of the relatively important characters. It felt a bit like the author needed to finish it all of a sudden to meet a deadline! Some more resolution tying the loose threads together - preferably with Julia's history - would have been greatly appreciated.

Overall, though, this is a fantastic addition to the YA fantasy genre because it is such an intriguing concept. Sandmen have never been done before as far as I know, but Cyn Balog's book could certainly spark some more on the topic!

My rating: 4 out of 5 shooting stars.


  1. Great review! I've been hearing a lot of good things about this book.

  2. I know I'm late, but thanks for stopping by the Hop. :-)

    I'm disappointed with the pat ending, but I still have high hopes for Sleepless. Great review!

  3. I have never heard of this before. What a wonderful concept! It sounds like something I would be interested in. Thanks for providing such a great review!

  4. I agree! This book sounds fascinating for it's utterly unique premise! (Thank you, Cyn, for not writing about vampires. Just sayin'.) This love pentagon you speak of sounds quite intriguing! Great review!

  5. Oh I really want to read this one! Tried winning an arc too, lol
    I enjoyed Fairy Tale, so I'm going to buy this one next as well:)

  6. Thanks for the comments!

    @The Bookish Type: I know, it seems like every other YA fantasy these days deals with vampires! (Or werewolves, lol).

  7. Fantastic review! I read this one a week or so back and really need to review it, but I definitely agree that Julia took a bit longer to warm up to - definitely! But it kind of made sense and to be honest not every girl goes for the guy that she falls heads over heels in love with. Definitely a great book, although I wish she would write a series because her characters are so fantastic and I want to see more of them! Especially Eron.

  8. Great review! I saw this at my public library and was wondering if anyone else read it. Now I think I'll pick it up.


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