Thursday, November 10, 2011

Review: A Long Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan

Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: August 9th, 2011

It should have been a short suspended-animation sleep. But this time Rose wakes up to find her past is long gone— and her future full of peril.

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 subbasement, 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 gone, 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.
(Courtesy of Goodreads)

If you look at the cover, you can see why I was initially drawn to this book.  So pretty, right?  Well, I'm glad the publisher did such a bang-up job with this cover, because I would not have wanted to miss this book.  I really, really enjoyed it.  It was so ridiculously good!  When I read the synopsis, I thought, "Wow. So this is a total Across the Universe rip-off!", but it isn't.  Yes, both girls are in stasis and wake up decades later to a whole new world, but the similarities end there...  I can tell you that while I was reading this, I started noticing certain parallels on another story, and although it wasn't touted as such, it is totally a Sleeping Beauty retelling, but so very different from any other fairy tale retelling I've ever read.  I was beyond impressed!  I've read a lot of retellings since it is one of my favorite genres, but I've never read one with a dystopian flair.  This book could have been a disaster, but it was anything but because of Anna Sheehan's skillful world building and character development.  Because of her descriptions, I was able to visualize the setting as if I was there.  It was as if she painted a picture for me with her words, and she did it beautifully.   As for the characters, they were awesome.  The main character, Rose, had so much depth, which given her situation, would be required, but Sheehan went beyond the necessary and made Rose real.  I enjoyed being in her head, even during her most painful moments of self discovery.  Rose had to come to grips with some truths that she subconsciously tried to block out; these discoveries, they were truly heartbreaking and I found myself feeling raw emotion on Rose's behalf.  The things she had to endure from other people, on both sides of her long stasis, were unconscionable, but she bore them with dignity and grace.  I came to really admire Rose by the end of this story. Another character I adored was Otto.  He was such an interesting person and I found myself smiling every time he came up in the story.  Honestly, he could have his own book; there is just that much to him.  As for Rose's love interests, well, there is a lot of complicated story there, and since my reviews are spoiler-free, I can't really go there... Xavier, her pre-stasis boyfriend, just made me sad.  I spent much of the story wondering about him; I can't imagine what it was like for Rose.  Then there was Bren, her prince who woke her with a kiss at the beginning of the story...  He was definitely a worthy love interest, but there are some issues there, and they will blow your mind.  Warning: there are a few things in this story that had me saying, "wtf?", but if you stick with it, I promise, it all makes sense in the end...

The Long Long Sleep is probably one of the best books I've read in the past few months.  It was so much more than I expected, and I love it when I go into a book without expectations and am blown away.  If you are a fan of Fairy Tale Retellings, Science-Fiction, and Dystopias, you must read this.  You will be very happy that you did. 

My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★  

Grade Level Recommendation:  This book was pretty clean.  No language, minimal violence, innocent romance.  This book is appropriate for ages 10 and up (5th grade+).

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