Hey, guys, remember that M. Night Shamalamadingdong movie The Happening with Marky Mark of Funky Bunch fame? Remember how amazing that film was? Yeah, me neither.
Richard Farren Barber's THE SLEEPING DEAD seems to be based on that movie, wherein Mother Nature wipes out humanity by having the residents of her revolving rock off themselves. Take away the murderous telepathic flora and you're left with this disaster. Barber doesn't even bother alluding to the cause of this suicide epidemic. Instead, he decides to start strong then commence boring his readers to death... Perhaps that's why these people are choosing a permanent vacation; they read this book and took the easy way out, instead of waiting around to be bored to death.
As I mentioned above, Barber does start out strong. He drew me in with vivid descriptions of the man on the bus, as well as Malcolm Laine's descent into madness. Then, at the halfway point, Barber loses the magic. Up until the 50% point, it takes quite a while for people to completely lose their bacon and take a permanent vacation, but then people start turning instantaneously. Take Fairls for instance. After Laine takes the express elevator to the ground floor, Fairls continuously checks on Jackson. But when Jackson decides to leave because the authorities are taking too long, he finds Fairls bleeding to death due to Fairls trying to shave himself with a pair of scissors. Fairls showed no signs of changing, not like the bus rider and Laine. Then you have the ladies in the stairwell whose behaviors are not consistent with what Barber set up at the beginning, either. Why did Barber decide to ditch the cool-as-hell rocking symptom. That was creepy. Losing it kinda spoiled the book for me.
Last but certainly not least, I want you to look at that cover. See it? Do you have that image burned into your mind? Good. Now, doesn't that scream "This is a ZOMBIE BOOK!"? I'll go ahead and answer for you: Yes, Mr. Man, it does. Alas, there are no zom-zoms, and next to no action whatsoever. I kept waiting for something to happen. In fact, that's the only reason I finished the book. I felt assured that there would be a twist ending or some such, but in the end, I was left snoring.
Which brings me to the title. As a reader, you must take that title quite literally. In this book, a great deal of humanity simply gives up and falls asleep. They can be seen snoozing in large packs, like kindergartners after lunch. Which leaves me wondering: Who on Tom Cruise's green earth thinks that sleeping folk are scary? Moreover, what kind of threat is a group of slumbering manic depressives? Had the Lunesta moth flown by at some point I'd think I was reading a commercial for sleep aids.
In summation: THE SLEEPING DEAD starts out great, but quickly derails. Perhaps the conductor fell asleep too. Only read if you need a nap, or enjoy disappointment.
*I recieved this book for free in return for my honest review, which you have just read. Thank you to DarkFuse and NetGalley for allowing me the chance to express my opinion.*