Insomnia by J.R. Johannson Review

Monday, May 13, 2013

Title: Insomnia
Author: J.R. Johansson (Twitter)
Publisher: Flux
Publish Date: June 8, 2013
Genre: YA, Paranormal, Thriller
Pages: 360
Source: Publisher

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.
Parker hasn't slept in four years. In that time, he finds that everything around him is becoming more and more unbearable. Instead of sleeping at night, Parker unwillingly slips into the dreams of those with whom he makes eye contact during the day. It's a deadly and painful condition in which he loses all control becoming crushed by the weight of others' lives each night. But when Parker meets Mia and discovers an antidote to this disease that is slowly killing him, he wants...and needs to be around her. Unfortunately, somebody else has their eye on Mia, and suspicions are eventually bound to turn right back around to Parker.

It's always refreshing when a book comes onto the scene with something new to offer, and Insomnia promised to do that exactly. Offering a male main character with a crippling power that, while not altogether new in the realm of YA paranormal, definitely sets itself apart, we're given a new twist on thrilling and mysterious adventures. J.R. Johansson has crafted an edge-of-your-seat, suspense-filled novel filled with twists and turns that are sure to keep you guessing. Insomnia is one of those books that might just keep you awake for days.

There was a lot about Insomnia that I found quite refreshing. In large part, I thought that Parker was a believable and relatable main character. His agony and desperation to sleep was tangible, and you could definitely feel his frustration with his inability to share this condition with anyone else. Because this was so thoroughly explored, his fascination with Mia was entirely plausible, though I'll admit it was still bordering on psychotic. That, in a nutshell, is why I enjoyed the premise of Insomnia. There's a touch of psychosis to this novel, and you need to sift through the layers of stress, damage and trauma to expose who these characters, namely Parker, really are. I will say that I felt Mia was a bit too much of a flat character. Because I felt like I never really got to know her, the hints of romance felt a bit stereotypical and forced to me, which detracted from the overall message of Insomnia. However, the strength of the book is honestly the no-holds-barred take on the creepy elements, and it lets them sing through the pages, leaving you with an intimidating and, at times, daunting mystery from which we must emerge.

All in all, I felt that Insomnia was a good start to a new series. While the ending felt a bit hurried, in my humble opinion, it was a pretty strong read with a lot to offer its intended audience. I give it a 3.5 out of 5, and I recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy paranormal, mysteries, thrillers and male MCs.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. That cover alone freaks me out! Very intriguing premise though it bites that the MC fell flat. Love that it's got a crazy mystery!

  2. "However, the strength of the book is honestly the no-holds-barred take
    on the creepy elements, and it lets them sing through the pages, leaving
    you with an intimidating and, at times, daunting mystery from which we
    must emerge."

    Oooo this sounds very interesting Melissa! I don't do well with horror or gore or anything like that, but creepy? YES PLEASE! I love a good mystery, and I'm very much liking the sound of this one even if the romance wasn't quite everything you wished it would be.

  3. I haven't heard of this one but I'm really intrigued. I like deeper, psychological stories so this sounds right up my alley. Thanks for bringing to my attention!

  4. Oh yes...this definitely has the "creep" factor going for it! The author totally doesn't skimp on know, it's ALMOST as creepy as salad fingers ;)

  5. You're quite welcome! I hope you give it a go...I'd love to compare notes :)

  6. That is a unique concept, bringing in both paranormal and psychology. Too bad Mia is a little flat. I also think the cover is freaky.

  7. It was a great concept, and I like freaky, so it was definitely exciting!

  8. The cover definitely gives me the creeps. Thanks for sharing your review.

  9. You bet! And yes, that cover is SUPER creepy, but it's also very fitting!

  10. The cover really creeps me out. As a person the has frequent insomnia, I can say that four years would definitely put you in psychotic mode. Four weeks would do it. So is Parker a reliable character? That's what I'd wonder. Will you continue with the series? Beautifully written review, Melissa!

  11. 1) Ugh, that cover is creepy. I cringed and quickly scrolled down. Bleh.

    2) I don't like the cover and I wasn't planning on reading it but since you loved it so much, I think I'll need to check it out. Interesting that it's about insomnia, something I convinced myself I had at 14 but turns out, I'm a night owl ;).

  12. I like that this has a unique concept. I saw this book on NG, but I was tempted to request it for some reason. Probably because books like these haven't been holding my attention much.
    The main character sounds great. I actually really like books written in male POV, but most often I'm disappointed because the voices don't come across as "male-like" enough.
    Also, I dislike when a romance is forced into a story. It seems like this story could have done without one.
    Anyways, glad that you enjoyed the book! Great review! :)

  13. I'm always very intrigued by male voices in YA. I love it when they're done right, and Parker sounds like one of the good ones. I think the concept here is excellent, very refreshing, and I'm glad that was mostly true of execution as well.
    Lovely review!

  14. Haha I know...the cover terrifies me! Not ok! It really is a cool concept though and, for the most part, it's quite well-executed!


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