Insomnia by J.R. Johansson | Book Review

Insomnia by J.R. Johansson (The Night Walkers #1)
Publisher: Flux
Format: eGalley (courtesy of J.R. Johansson)
Genre: Paranormal, YA
Publication Date: 8 June, 2013
It’s been four years since I slept, and I suspect it is killing me.

Instead of sleeping, Parker Chipp enters the dream of the last person he’s had eye contact with. He spends his nights crushed by other people’s fear and pain, by their disturbing secrets—and Parker can never have dreams of his own. The severe exhaustion is crippling him. If nothing changes, Parker could soon be facing psychosis and even death.

Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that is utterly addictive. Parker starts going to bizarre lengths to catch Mia’s eye every day. Everyone at school thinks he’s gone over the edge, even his best friend. And when Mia is threatened by a true stalker, everyone thinks it’s Parker.

Suffering blackouts, Parker begins to wonder if he is turning into someone dangerous. What if the monster stalking Mia is him after all?

The idea that 'the eyes are the windows to your soul' is brought to life with Parker's inexplicable talent of entering the dreams of the last person he made eye contact with. As Parker has experienced, the thoughts people keep to themselves can often be dramatically different from their outward appearances. Some of the dreams (or dreams of memories) he experiences are violent or disturbing. And when he sees that those disturbing dreams are beginning to have a toll on his own nature, it's a startling realization. A lot of this book deals with human nature and the subconscious, and I found that fascinating.

Insomnia is the perfect title for this book, because it kept me up for so long at night. I was torn between getting some sleep, and wanting to find out the identity of Mia's stalker. It twisted my guts as I read, because while there were some very cliche moments, hardly anything unfolded the way I expected it to. Quite often, I was surprised or startled by the turn of events.

I was very pleased with the love story. It's not the hero-meets-damsel let's-call-it-true-love type of story. Parker doesn't take the convenient road (hey, I'm trying to be cryptic and not give it away). I also liked the easy friendship between Parker, Finn, and Addie.

One aspect I didn't enjoy as much as I had hoped, was Parker's downer attitude towards the end of the book. He has a lot on his plate, and is sleep-deprived on top of it all, but he becomes a pretty bad friend to those who are trying to help him. He refuses offers of help until he has no other choice, and even after he accepts help, he keeps vital secrets to himself because...it's easier for everyone (or so he thinks).

I was also confused with the timeline of Parker's sleep deprivation. It didn't make sense to me. When the book begins, Parker hasn't slept even once in four straight years. There is no mention of accidents, psychotic actions, or psychological effects, aside from less concentration. It's just been Parker trudging along for those four years, looking steadily worse for the wear, and mistakenly becoming a drug addict in the eyes of those around him. But in just a few pages, he suddenly begins having all of the symptoms of sleep deprivation in rapid succession, and is sure that he's going to die. And he's convinced that it's going to happen soon.

All of this lead me to Google, where I learned that two weeks is about the extent of life expectancy among non-sleepers. Unless you have an actual Insomnia disorder (very rare), which can give you about 6-30 months without sleep, before death. Nowhere close to four years. But what do I know? This very confusion may be something that's addressed in the next book, as the ending leaves us to believe that there is more to Parker's abilities than we now know.

Until then....
I always enjoy getting a fresh view from a male perspective, and this is no exception. There's something cool about feeling as if I'm experiencing the male side of life. (Uh, does that make me weird? No? Phew.) I was entertained by Parker's abilities, and highly thrilled with the action and psychological twists. I'm looking forward to the sequel!

Temp. Guide
Read this if:
...you like thrillers, and enjoy walking the line between good and bad.

Content Warning
*This section may contain some spoilers about content!*
Highlight between the brackets to reveal the text.
{Some swearing, some violence, murder, and one dream scene that suggests that sexual violation has taken place.}

Pre-order Insomnia:
J.R. Johansson:
Website  /  Twitter  /  Blog


  1. I'm glad you liked it for the most part. I can understand your hesitation about the sequence of events. It did happen quickly, which was interesting. I guess for lack of a better way to describe it, it was used to propel the story. But, it didn't bother me too much because I didn't think about it until you brought it up, lol.

  2. Hmm, yeah the scientific impossibility of Parker's situation would probably bug me too...I mean, it may be a paranormal novel but it should still be internally consistent, and having him suddenly develop symptoms he should have a long time ago seems very strange. That said, the concept of the central premise is cool and from your review it sounds like the author does a lot of other things right!


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