Friday, March 9, 2012

The Sleepwalkers

The SleepwalkersThe Sleepwalkers by J. Gabriel Gates

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2.5 stars

Wow. This guy has serious talent! - That was one of my first thoughts when I started reading The Sleepwalkers. The opening scene scared the living daylights out of me. It sent chills down my spine, just as the author intended. The prose stunned me with its beauty, too. I must have marked at least ten different sentences in the first chapter alone. Understandably, it all raised my expectations, which, sadly, weren’t met later on.

I'll start with the good parts, and then get to the thing that really bothered me:

I couldn’t predict where the story was going at all, and since I’m usually able to see everything coming from a mile away, that was a huge plus in my book. Even though Caleb wasn’t instantly likeable, I warmed up to him soon enough. As his estrangement from his father started coming to light, it gave me a better understanding of him, making me willing to forgive him for some of his actions, especially the ones I particularly disliked. Bean, on the other hand, I loved right away. He’s the character that brings humor into the story, so that part isn’t surprising at all. I could have done without his whining later on, but overall, I felt that he was a well-built, complete character.

I admit that I normally tend to shy away from horror stories and that I’m rarely in the right mood for one, but I WAS in such a mood when I picked this book up, and still, The Sleepwalkers failed to impress me. It wasn’t because of the prose, which was strong and evocative, although uneven at times. It wasn’t because of the characters, the plot, or even the occasionally clumsy dialogues.

So what went wrong? Just one very important thing: pacing, pacing, pacing!

As much as I appreciated the well-developed characters, in many ways, reading Sleepwalkers was a slow (and I do mean slow) torture. The pacing remained unchanged throughout the first half, it rarely sped up or slowed down. If you want your scary parts to really BE scary, you have to give your readers some downtime, insert a few lighter moments that will make them relax, and then surprise them with something intense. In the first 40% of the book, the pacing was completely monotone, and quite frankly, it bored me to tears. Things did get a little better later on, but it took me a while to readjust and I’m afraid my overall enjoyment was diminished.

Perhaps I should have waited a while to pick this up after reading The Repossession. Both books are about missing kids no one is really bothering to look for, but to me, The Repossession was infinitely better and far more convincing. Nevertheless, I will go back to my first sentence: J. Gabriel Gates is a man of enormous talent. Even though this didn’t work for me, I feel that he showed tremendous potential and I can’t wait to see what he does next.


  1. Ugh horror is awesome but not in a slow pace! I read horror for the excitement and thrill not to be bored really. Thanks for the warning I had my eye on this one.

  2. Oh that is sad that a book with such promise falters on pacing. I would love to see some of your quotes from the first chapters to get a flavor for the writing. Girl, I love that you come by my blog everyday your humor is always welcome, I have a wicked sense of humor, which is starting to leak out more and more on the blog :) You feel free to say what you want. Hey I let Splitter have run of the place. Oh my gosh you are reading Discount Armageddon I am so curious about that book!

    1. Hah! I love that you can't keep your sense of humor hidden any longer. I might have to come by twice a day in the future. :D

      Discount Armageddon is a lot of fun so far. I adore the main character and the worldbuilding is complete. For a first book in the series, it is quite extraordinary.

  3. I read this a while ago and actually enjoyed it quite a bit. But I think I understand what you mean about the pacing. It's a shame the book didn't end up meeting the high expectations that were raised at the start. It always feels worse when you expect it to be good and then it fails to deliver.

  4. Yikes. Not my genre at all, but I think I would have been bored too based on what you described with the pacing issues.

  5. I tend to shy away from horror stories too, but I've been having this strange craving for them lately like you have LOL! x) It's too bad that this one let you down though. :( I'm starting to be less patient with books that can't keep me hooked because of the amount of books on my TBR pile, and I'd probably have the same issues with pacing as you.

    Still, amazing honest review, Maja! <3 I love how, even when a book isn't for you, you still manage to find something in it that intrigues me -- like the beautiful writing and the brilliant Bean humor! ;)

    1. And I love how kind and attentive you always are. :)
      Thank you, sweetheart.

  6. My record track of horror stories is limited to Anna Dressed in Blood and The Shadowing: Hunted, so perhaps I'm not the best judge. But I like the part about not being able to predict where it goes (always a plus!) and the characterization. I agree with you, though: the slow pace, I think, might completely kill the whole horror thing. I've found some books that dragged a lot, and blamed my dislike of them in my current moood (that required something faster, harder, you know the drill) but I think in this case, the excuse wouldn't work.

    Still, characterization might be the most important aspect of storytelling, and if that's done right, future books from the author might be a treat.

    Thanks for the wonderful review!


  7. I'm sorry that this book is a disappoinment! I'm not really into horror stories so I don't think that I would pick this book. I don't like slow pacing in books too! They tend to get on my nerves LOL!

    I'm glad that the prose is really good anyway! I like your reviews because you are always honest, Maja! I can always count on you to have a honest review with details and logical reasons why you like/don't like the book! <3

  8. Awh, sorry this book failed to impress you, Maja! I hate when that happens. I also HATE slow books. After all, what kind of horror story has a slow plot?! I'm pretty sure I would have given up on this book, haha. I'm proud of you that you got through it, even though you didn't end up loving it. Fabulous review, Maja! :) <3

  9. What a shame, it's so disappointing when a book starts off well and then slowly gets worse :( And this won't be going on my list because I am a big scaredy cat when it comes to horror, unless it's Stephen King ;)


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