A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan is a beautiful book from the outset and one that has been getting some pretty positive reviews so far from what I’ve seen but this book and I battled from the beginning. I spent the first 100-150 pages struggling to get into the story for various reasons and have to admit that I almost put it down. I carried on reading because I don’t quit books easily and with all the positive press, I had to admit that maybe I was missing something. And then as if by magic, everything clicked into place and I started really enjoying it to the point that I’ve been bawling my eyes out for the past fifteen minutes. You certainly don’t elicit THAT kind of reaction if you didn’t enjoy the book. Whilst I wipe my tears, I give you the synopsis:
“Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss.
Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten sub-basement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now her parents and her first love are long dead, and Rose -- hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire -- is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat.
Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes -- or be left without any future at all.”
The first thought that sprung to mind when I started reading this was that it reminded me of Beth Revis’ Across the Universe and I suspect a lot of people will make this comparison as the story features a girl who wakes up after spending 62 years in stasis but that’s really where the comparison ends and let me tell you that these stories are completely different. Sleeping Beauty also comes to mind as in A Long, Long Sleep, Rose is woken with a kiss which actually sounds quite romantic until you realise that in reality it’s actually more like mouth to mouth resuscitation. I also drew comparisons with The Terminator when I realised that Rose had a killer robot that won’t ever stop coming after her. Regardless of these comparisons, I do actually think that the story stands on its own merits but I bet you’re wondering why I struggled so much in the beginning? I think it was being thrown into a completely new world that wasn’t all explained right away and took some time to get used to. Not only is the lingo different but I also became confused about the difference in age between Rose and Xavier as it kept shifting. At first I thought that it was a mistake as I was reading the ARC and then I got a bit creeped out about it and the potential love interest connotations. Finally, a friend helped me realise what was happening and that it was indeed correct. Thank you Zoe! Then I realised that I had I just kept reading a little further, I would have discovered that revelation for myself!
As for the killer robot? During their first encounter, Rose doesn’t tell anyone and hides in the sub basement where apparently this futuristic and presumably intelligent robot doesn’t think to look. And then the very next day, she goes to school. Now, granted she is taking some kind of ant anxiety pills to suppress her emotions after all she’s been through and I understand the need for routine and all things familiar to make you feel safe but DAMN GIRL, I would be getting the hell out of there ASAP. Obviously she doesn’t watch scary movies. Later on, she tells us that she thought it was a dream or something and we realise that the robot is not all that it seems but still!
Anyway, so yes I started getting into the story and I loved how we learned about Rose’s past narrated to us through a series of flashbacks. My heart grew for Xavier and all that Rose had lost. If I’m honest, I was quite devastated in the end. This is a truly heartbreaking but beautiful debut novel that I’m glad I stuck with otherwise I wouldn’t have known that. And the end? Oh. My. Goodness was I bawling. Well done Ms Sheehan. Well done.
A Long, Long Sleep was published by Candlewick Press in the US on 9th August, 2011 and by Gollancz in the UK on 18th August, 2011. Thank you to Gollancz for sending me an ARC to read and review.
To find out more about Anna Sheehan, click here to visit her website. She is also active on Facebook.