Thumbs up for A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan. Young adult science fiction.
I bought this at an Oxfam in London strictly because of the cool cover (the British cover, not the one shown above, though that isn’t bad either). Since any time I pick up a young adult sci-fi or fantasy novel I go in with very, very low expectations, I didn’t have high hopes of finishing it, much less giving it a place on my “keeper” shelf. But you know? I was pleasantly surprised. Its premise springs from the Sleeping Beauty story (girl is awakened by a kiss after 62 years of stasis, to discover that she missed the apocalypse) but it goes surprising places from there. While she does fall soppily in love with her awakener (she’s sixteen – what do you expect?), A Long, Long Sleep is not really a romance. Nor is it an action-packed adventure – though there is a well-balanced element of danger that keeps things moving forward. Without giving too much away, it’s more of an exploration of overcoming psychological damage. Because of her background, Rose initially comes off as weak – but as we find more out about why she is the way she is, she becomes a deeply sympathetic character. Some of the scenes had me tearing up a little, and that’s saying something. But above all, I was impressed, in the second half of the book, that I didn’t know how it was going to end. It’s a rare book that can actually surprise me with a twist, but Sheehan’s book made my jaw drop three or four times, and then came to a really satisfying denouement. Highly recommended for fans of the genre – as long as you don’t require heroines who kick ass from the start, rather than following a realistic character arc into strength.
Despite six days in the hospital, plus twenty-four hours of primping and preening, health monitors, vitality injections, and a thousand other ministrations to which I had been subjected, my hair was still lank and brittle, my skin sallow and sensitive, and my bones protruded so much I looked like a skeleton in a bag. My eyes were weak, my breath was shallow, and I felt ill when I tried to eat. I felt like an old woman. Technically, I was one.
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