‘Sleepless’ by Charlie Huston

  Charlie Huston doesn’t lack for imagination.
  In his latest, “Sleepless,” Huston takes readers into a world of chaos created by a widespread disease that robs sufferers of sleep.
  The afflicted wander in a zombielike state.
  Some submerge themselves in the game “Chasm Tide,” where the real and virtual worlds blur in an ever expanding online Utopia.
  Others gorge on all sorts of drugs to ward of the psychotic side effects of long-term sleeplessness that, regardless, ends in death.
  The disease didn’t care for distinctions of class, race, income, religion, sex, or age. The disease seemed only to care that your eyes remain open to witness it all. That what nightmares you had haunted only your waking hours. The disease considered us all equal and wished that we share the same fate. That we should bear witness as we chewed our own intestines, snapping at what gnawed from the inside.
  Lawlessness rules the streets as the government and law enforcement agencies are unable to combat the drug trade, and dealers become increasingly powerful and dangerous. And no one could be more powerful than whoever controls the trade of Dreamer, the only drug known to allow the sleepless to rest.
  Enter Parker Haas.
  The LAPD officer goes undercover to stop the trade of Dreamer and move it off the black market. But powerful and greedy forces stand against Park. Though more than one person wants him dead, Park knows he must succeed, not only for the sake of his sleepless wife and their daughter, but for all those who might survive what seems like the end of times.
  As with “The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death,” Huston delivers a refreshingly original story. The disease central to the plot is rooted in truth and Huston believably portrays the societal breakdown that follows the plague.
  Readers should be patient as it takes about 50 pages to figure out who’s who through the shifting perspectives.
  While Park tells his story, one of his hunters offers his own perspective. It’s through the voice of Jasper, the former special ops out to kill Park, that Huston wields the humor found so often in “Mystic Arts.”
  Complicated scientific, drug and gaming terminology slow the action a bit, but the biggest flaw is the abrupt shift Huston makes to wrap up the story. The author fails to stay true to his characters, which detracts from the realism that brings to life this apocalyptic world.
  Despite these missteps, “Sleepless” still entertains. Huston’s imagination becomes contagious as the reader ponders how brutal a desperate nation could become.

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