By: Stephen King & Owen King
Academics and barstool philosophers have posed one question for years, “What would happen if women disappeared from the face of the Earth?” In a world where such a phenomenon seemed impossible, men and women alike were free to laugh and debate about this thought experiment with no repercussions.
Women all over the world have fallen asleep, and they can’t wake up. As they sleep, the women become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze that, once torn, sends them into a spectacularly violent rage. While unconscious, the women go to another place where harmony prevails, and conflict is rare.
As the men start returning to their increasingly primal urges, a woman by the name of Evie Black appears with an immunity to the Aurora, the sleeping sickness. Shortly after she’s found, authorities realize there’s something different about Evie. While no one knows exactly why the young woman appeared or what her intentions are, it’s understood that she knows why the plague began and how to end it.
Right out the gate, my first comment on this book is that it was twice the length it should have been. The first 70% of the novel was different characters regurgitating the same information over and over again in slightly new ways. While there were elements that worked such as the women’s prison and the trials of trying to stay awake, those elements did not justify a 700-page narrative.
With IT and The Stand, readers become emotionally invested in the lives of the main characters because there are only about 6 in each book. We grow to love those misfit characters like friends as we discover how they think and react to stressful situations. The issue with Sleeping Beauties isn’t that it was 700 pages (The Stand was more than twice that length). The problem is that those pages weren’t used effectively. From the beginning, there’s a list of character names, ages, and relationships to help us keep track of who’s who. The characters are so memorable, you’ll likely need to look them up later to remember who the hell anyone’s talking about.
The saving grace of Sleeping Beauties was the world building. I truly believe that if all the women on Earth suddenly fell asleep and couldn’t wake up, most men would probably react as they did in this novel. Knowing that is horrifying and not at all comforting, but it is insightful.
At this point in my Stephen King journey, I’ve noticed a pattern in my reviews which is that I’m not a fan of his collaborative works. I didn’t enjoy The Talisman or Gwendy’s Button Box. I was truly hoping that this novel would be different because he collaborated with his son Owen, but that proved to be a meaningless distinction. Stephen King is best when he doesn’t have anyone else filling his head and paper with their ideas. I’ll mainly stick to his solo stuff from now on with the exception of Black House because I already own a copy of it though I no longer want to read it.
Overall rating: 3