I received this book for free from Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Sleeper by MacKenzie Cadenhead
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: August 1st 2017
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Sarah’s dreams are everyone else’s nightmares in this thriller that perfectly combines Inception and Heathers
As a sufferer of REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, Sarah acts out her dreams. Usually she's only a danger to herself, but when she almost breaks her best friend's neck at a sleepover, Sarah becomes a social pariah. Luckily (and strangely), Wes, a guy she's only seen in her dreams, turns up at school and the two become inseparable.
An experimental drug offers a cure, but she and Wes soon realize that not only are they sharing the same dreams, they can now alter other people's dreams. It's clear that this new drug is offering a lot more than just sleep. Will Wes and Sarah choose responsibility…or revenge?
Sleeper by Mackenzie Cadenhead sounded like such a Christine book with the promise of a sci-fi thriller about what happens when you can share dreams and alter others. Unfortunately, despite my attempts are trying to finish it, I had to stop at the 68% mark. It started out kind of interesting with Sarah having a peculiar dream that she enacts in real life without her even being aware she’s doing it. This results in almost killing her best friend and then said girl tries to ruin her social life at their high school. Okay, fine. There’s a boy in this dream that suddenly shows up at her school named Wes. They’ve never met before so this definitely piqued my interest. Who was he? How did she start dreaming about him before they met? I had questions. They discover they are actually having the same dream, are conscious of it the whole time, and can maneuver their way around other people’s dreams. Here’s where my issues start happening.
First of all, by the time I got to 68% of it being over with, we still have no idea why Sarah and Wes can share dreams. We know that taking this experimental drug called Dexid is what allows this to happen but we don’t know why and the characters don’t even care to know why. They’re just like cool, let’s abuse this weird side effect and take revenge on Sarah’s former friends for being mean. Maybe at the very end of the book it’s revealed how this drug does this? I don’t know but I finally just quit caring. My real issue with this book is Wes and Sarah’s behavior once they discover the unique and unexplained powers of Dexid.
Sarah was called out in front of the student body about her accidental dream re-enactment and her former best friend is a nasty popular girl. But really and truly, it’s nothing out of the ordinary you see in your typical mean girls of high school portrayals in novels. But A) Wes is a terrible influence and B) THE TWO OF THEM ARE SO MUCH WORSE. They basically jump into these girls’ bodies, butcher their appearances, commit weird, inappropriate, almost incestual sex acts WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT because they have snatched their bodies BY DRUGGING THEM. Not only is that something that should just piss you off automatically but we need to go back to Point A. Wes is a terrible person. He keeps pressuring Sarah into taking more and more pills to get better control of their abilities (and you guessed it, she agreed) but this chick is also completely okay with Wes slipping her “victims” drugs – roofie style – so that they can get their revenge. WHAT THE HECK. Oh, and I forgot to mention that Wes and Sarah become the epitome of instalove by like the 3rd day of knowing each other. So anyway, Sarah doesn’t even question how Wes knows how to roofie people and since he starts kissing her after he mentions it, she flat out says, and I quote, “Truth is, though I should care how he does it, I don’t.” I went on a twitter rant about how girls should be sticking up for other girls and watching each other’s backs. Sarah lost a ton of points in my book during this passage. I just can’t even believe she stuck around with this random guy after he admitted he knew how and was comfortable roofie-ing someone but also that she brushed it off like it was no big deal.
Fast forward a couple of chapters and I think finally Sarah has a moral compass. Finally, this girl realizes invading people’s dreams and lives and trying to ruin them makes her no better, and quite frankly, even worse than they are. I also start to think maybe she’s realizing Wes is shady af and she needs to get out now. But then, as has been the case, she proves me wrong. Only one girl from her previous group has stuck by her side throughout this whole thing and she, very gracefully, expresses her concerns about Wes and Sarah’s new behavior. Sarah basically loses her shit and says some horrible things to this girl who has always been there for her. I lost even more respect for her in this instance.
Anyway, I didn’t mean to make this super long but I just had so many thoughts about this book. It had such potential and a cool concept but it all got completely overshadowed by the pettiness and the morally corrupt scenes that took place. It might have gotten better by the end. We might have finally understood why this drug allows Sarah and Wes to join forces and dream together and even why they can go into other people’s. Who knows, maybe Sarah got over her disgust with her friends and realized what she was doing was worse. Maybe she realized Wes was no good, got over her lust for him, and kicked him to the curb. Maybe even Wes calmed down and became a decent boyfriend. I don’t know but I just don’t really care enough to find out.
Revenge became morally questionable and ridiculous. Instalove galore. Neither character exhibited much of a conscious by 68%. No real explanation of why they could do things in their dreams. Became uninterested.