This debut novel by Anna Sheehan was an amazing read. It is a cross between Sleeping Beauty and a dystopian future. Set in a future after a second Dark Times, where more than a third of the world's population was eliminated, the story has a very unique feel. Earth and its colonies in space are now prospering again after the dark ages. And UniCorp is one of the largest and most powerful companies in the universe. Now Roselinda Fitzroy had been lost in a suspended sleep for over 60 year. Upon waking, it is revealed she is the heir to UniCorp and all of its subsidiaries. But Roselinda is just a 16 year old girl. Her life was different from most before her long sleep and now she is an outright freak, living in a world she could not have imagined and a world that has gone through a second dark age and recovered. But how old is she really and how many times has she had been put to sleep like this by her parents? Rose has wakened after a long, long sleep to a world she does not know or understand and as the days and weeks pass she seems to have more questions than answers.
This story is wonderfully written, with a unique mix of modern fairy tale, science fiction and dystopia all rolled up in one tight package. The characters are in this story are amazing, especially as we watch Rose evolve and grow as she must because this time she has been removed for sleep and going back is not really an option any longer. The author's description of how Rose works through her issues and problems, through her artwork, is inspiring and a little reminiscent of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Her mourning for what has been lost and her slow discovery of what really happened to her and why, is fascinating to watch as the ploy unveils. For a first novel I was blown away by the skill and talent shown by Sheehan and look forward to reading more books by her, and if we are really lucky maybe a continuation of Rose's story! This is one of the best books I have read in the last year.
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Anna Sheehan's debut novel sounds like a weird mash up once described: a sci fi Sleeping Beauty set in a post-apocolyptic world. But somehow, it works. It really, really works and we're left with this fabulously disturbing and beautiful story.
A Long, Long Sleep is just about flawless. The story is told from Rose's perspective after she wakes up from a chemically induced sleep designed to preserve her, after 62 years. Like a sequel to Sleeping Beauty, Sheehan tells the story of what might have happened after the princess wakes up. What do you do when everyone you know is dead and your world has entirely changed but you're still the same? How do you adapt? Just remember that fairytales don't always end the way we want them to.
But the story is really about Rose's journey of self-discovery. But it's heartbreaking, and painful to watch. Here she struggles with self loathing and abuse, with one of the best depictions of absolute isolation and loneliness I have ever read. It's poignant and heart wrenching, and brings up all these emotions you might struggle to convey. But Sheehan doesn't struggle in writing Rose's story at all. Truly beautiful and haunting, Rose is such a fascinating and multidimensional character. She isn't what you'd expect for someone referred to as Sleeping Beauty at all; not exactly always pretty, socially awkward, unhealthy, but gentle and thoughtful as well.
My two complaints with this book are fairly minor; the first is that some of the slang repeatedly used is somewhat vague and difficult to understand the real meaning at times. The second is that I thought the robot assassin plot to take away from what I felt to be the main purpose of the book, and while it did add some action scenes I really didn't feel they were necessary or particularly helpful for the book.
ARC received from the publisher in exchange for an honest and candid review.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
Read with Kleenex. Nothing like I thought it would be...in a very, VERY good wayAug. 24 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
Anna Sheehan's A Long, Long Sleep has one of the best first chapters I've read all year. I read that first page and couldn't put the book down for the rest of the afternoon. What a hidden gem! The cover is pretty enough, but it absolutely does not convey what a touching, heart-rending story this is.
You read that blurb, and you THINK you know what A Long, Long Sleep is going to be about. You THINK you know exactly where the author's going to take this story (at least I thought I did). And then Sheehan takes these events and writes such an unexpectedly beautiful, startling, tragic story that I was blown away. This book was NOTHING like I thought it was going to be...in a very, VERY good way.
Forgotten in her stasis tube, Rosalinda Fitzroy is awakened after 62 years by a kiss. She struggles to come to terms with the death of her beloved Xavier and everyone she's ever known, and she understandably feels alone and lost in this strange world. Initially, Rose is passive and full of self-loathing and guilt. I've read about many YA heroines in need of a healthy dose of self-worth, and oftentimes the voices of these characters can be unbearable. But not Rose. Don't give up on Rose as she seems to shrivel with self-loathing. As her story unfolds and the REASONS for Rose's self-hate and passivity come to light, she becomes such a tragic, sympathetic character that you just want to love and embrace her. Watching her overcome her past and seeing her character growth was a beautiful, albeit heart-wrenching, journey.
Sheehan's writing shines in her characterization. Her characters are fascinating and well developed, especially my favorite, Otto. Otto, an experimental blue human with alien DNA, is such a poignant, compelling character. He cannot speak aloud, so he and Rose begin communicating through IM chats. After reading the annoying chats in Beastly, I was initially wary of this technique, but Otto and Rose's chemistry instantly won me over. These heartfelt chats quickly became the moments I looked forward to the most. Otto and Rose feel connected to each other through their loss and abandonment, and their devotion and understanding creates a touching relationship.
This story is absolutely devastating at times. Read with Kleenex. A Long, Long Sleep may be called sci-fi, and while it does have a futuristic setting, at its heart, this is a story about child abuse and abandonment. About the aftermath of abuse. About overcoming the tragic hand you've been dealt and learning to LIVE. Yes, there are those annoying future words and few new gadgets but this is not heavy sci-fi. This is a stirring blend of sci-fi lite, mystery, and romance coupled with a serious look at neglect and abuse.
I had an inkling from the beginning about a certain twist of events, and I read the next 250 pages wondering how Sheehan could possibly resolve this situation without a major dose of ick. (Let's just say the relationships in this book are unconventional.) At the end, I was utterly impressed--Sheehan crafts a satisfying resolution for these characters that feels authentic. The end isn't all rainbows and sunshine, but it feels triumphant and hopeful. And that last paragraph? CHILLS. What a powerful ending.
A Long, Long Sleep is a story of overcoming tragedy, of learning to love yourself in the aftermath of abuse. It is a story of love--not just the romantic kind, but of true friendship--and of finding a family in the ones who love you. It is tragic and devastating, but the ultimate message is one of hope and triumph.
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A mix of fairy tale, sci-fi, and post-dystopia!Aug. 9 2011
Bonnie Lynn Wagner
- Published on Amazon.com
What genre does a book like A LONG, LONG SLEEP by Anna Sheehan fall into? Is it a fairy tale? Is it sci-fi/futuristic? Is it post-dystopian? Is it medical? Is it something else all together? A LONG, LONG SLEEP is all of this and more. First and foremost, it is a book about a teenager named Rose--and teenager is used in the loosest of terms due to the fact that her parents put her in stasis for over sixty years (and several other times before she hit the age of sixteen, no less). The novel starts off with a SLEEPING BEAUTY spin, with Rose being pulled out of stasis and faced with the dashing teen who awakened her. The way Sheehan describes stasis reminds me of Across the Universe by Beth Revis, only the ramifications for being put under for so long are much more severe in Rose's world. Take a look at the first page (from the e-ARC edition; changes may have been made):
...When the electric-blue seascape I was trying to hold on to was interrupted, not by a hand but by the feeling of lips on mine, I was startled. I sucked in a breath through my nose and sat bolt upright, knocking my head against my supposed rescuer. I couldn't see. Everything was dark and painful, as if I had just opened my eyes into a bright light after days in the dark.
See what I mean? There are so many things going on in that one paragraph. How can this book possibly encompass one genre?
Rose emerges into a world that has recovered from "the dark times," a dystopic-sounding era brought about by illness. Everyone she knew and loved is dead. She herself very well might have been as well, if her parents hadn't left her in stasis for so long. At first, it's hard to connect with Rose as a character because she doesn't have depth and can be annoying, but as A LONG, LONG SLEEP delves deeper into her psyche, horrible truths come out that make readers realize why she's such a damaged character. She's been through so much more than most literary characters in YA. For one thing (and this is no secret, so it's not a spoiler), Rose's parents often stuck her in stasis growing up. She never questioned it before, but is only now beginning to realize the neglect she went to and the way her parents abused her throughout her life. She is emotionally and physically scarred, and has a lot of trouble adjusting to life, especially since she was cloistered as a child and must now navigate the world on her own.
Rose is constantly haunted by all that she has lost, including that of her true love Xavier, who grew up without her. At one point in her life, she was older than him and watched him grow. She was put under stasis so often, that eventually, they were the same age, and then he was older. And then he grew up and suffered through the dark times alongside her parents while she remained in stasis, alone and forever youthful. She has trouble forging new relationships now despite the way Bren, the teenager who discovered and awakened her, takes her under his wing. She goes to school for the first time and in introduced to crazy slang and new technology that's foreign to her. One of her classmates, Otto, is a well-written secondary character that readers will be clamoring to learn more about. He's truly amazing, and it's easy to embrace him as we delve more into what makes him tick. He adds another sci-fi touch to the novel with his back story (which IS spoilery, so I won't describe it here) and his unique way of communicating with other characters.
The novel's ending will blow readers away. I'm good at putting the puzzle pieces together well before I get to the climax, and even I was flabbergasted by many realizations. The ending left me a little shattered. I would love to see Sheehan write another book in this world and go into more depth with areas that were only briefly touched upon. Even if A LONG, LONG SLEEP remains a stand-alone, it is still a one-of-a-kind fairy tale entry, darker and grittier than most in the genre and impossible not to love.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Courtesy of The Figment Review at Figment[dot]comAug. 9 2011
The Figment Review
- Published on Amazon.com
by Danielle Reid
Rose Fitzroy has not opened her eyes in sixty-two years. After several decades of being in a futuristic device called a stass tube that leaves the occupant unconscious, Rose wakes to a world so much unlike the one she knew. Her family and those she loves have long passed on, and the other children are not accepting of this strange girl who doesn't understand their modern slang and behavior. To top it all off, her parents ran a massive corporation that owned....basically everything, and when the current president of the company realizes the actual heir is actually alive and well he's a bit irritated, to say the least. Dangerously so.
I had ambivalent feelings about A Long, Long Sleep. Rose Fitzroy is a weak female character with questionable self-esteem. Oh, and she's not very intelligent. There were a couple parts where I just shook my head and thought, "Is this girl being serious right now? No one is really that stupid." If you prefer headstrong females that take the initiative and act with intelligence, you'll probably find yourself getting annoyed with her petty behavior and inferiority complex. Much of the book reflects on Rose's life before her sixty-two year sleep, allowing readers to examine her relationships with her parents and friends. In Rose's defense, her lack of a backbone may have stemmed from the parenting style of two highly disturbed individuals. This was my main qualm with the novel, but it's written very well, especially the dialogue. Anna Sheehan has a graceful and commendable writing style.
She makes good use of her skills to develop a romantic relationship between Rose and another unlikely character. It is honestly the cutest thing, and I couldn't help but make a few verbal, "Awwwwwwwws". I was enthralled by the subtle romance and really wanted to see where it ended up. Admittedly, I was very tempted to cheat and read the last few pages of the book, but I didn't. I was strong! Sheehan's is a unique approach to building a relationship between characters that I've never seen before, but it works well. My only issue with the relationship is that I thought it progressed a little too fast.
A Long, Long Sleep combines action, romance, and science fiction to create a wonderful novel with an unpredictable, OMG ending. Note that the book is classified as science fiction, but I don't believe it would appeal to the average sci-fi lover. I give this book three stars because I had to read it twice to appreciate and enjoy it, but once I properly understood the plot, I couldn't put it down.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Sci-fi Sleeping BeautyAug. 11 2011
- Published on Amazon.com
This is a science-fiction re-telling of the Sleeping Beauty story. Depending on how you look at it, Rosalinda Fitzroy is either 16-years old, or well over a hundred. Exploring a sub-basement, Bren is startled when he finds a human girl sleeping in a stasis tube, and after accidentally hitting the wake sequence, he attempts CPR, literally, "kissing" her awake.
It turns out Rosalinda is the heir to a multi-planetary empire. While she was supposed to be in a short stasis, a global disaster known as the Dark Times hit, and forgotten, she ended up sleeping for over sixty years. I really struggled for the first half of the book. Rosalinda is understandably, a disaster... technology, culture, everything has changed while she's been out and feeling physically weak from being in stasis for far, far longer than what is considered customary or safe, naturally, she feels completely overwhelmed. Even though her feelings seemed reasonable considering the circumstances, I was annoyed by how timid she was and how she constantly put herself down. She doesn't consider herself terribly bright and even before being accidentally in stasis, seemed like a bit of a lost soul. I found her very difficult to like at first.
As she slowly starts to open up to Otto, a telepathic alien classmate, readers gradually get glimpses of her tragic past. The privileged daughter of wealthy, elite business-owners, who use stasis on a regular basis, when they are traveling for business, as a punishment (kind of a like a "time-out" only infinitely worse) or just when they feel like they need a break from parenting, Rose has been robbed of any kind of normalcy since day one. After a while, she even begins to crave being "stassed" - getting high off the psychedelic dreams she experiences while in her stasis tube. Her parents truly come off as monsters... and it turns out that they've been inadvertently responsible for the Dark Times catastrophe as well.
As Rose is coping with all of this, there are dark hints of a murdering robot that's been sent to assassinate her. Obviously, there are a lot of people who would benefit if Rose could more permanently disappear. Who sent it? Who can she trust? How will she escape from this tireless death machine? I was surprised also, that while there is a hint of romance, it doesn't feature heavily in the story. Ultimately, Rose has to learn how to be her own person, discovering her own unique abilities and standing up to the board of directors who are running her family's business in her stead. I'll recommend this book to readers who enjoyed Across the Universe by Beth Revis with a caveat to stick with it, A Long, Long Sleep gets better (much, much better) as you go along.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Unexpected, Engaging, and Utterly EntertainingAug. 18 2013
- Published on Amazon.com
I don't write many reviews, but I feel as though I have to because the bad and so-so reviews are just so wrong, IMHO. I usually pay more attention to bad reader reviews than good ones because it seems like you can serve up tripe and everyone just loves, loves, loves it. So in particular, when I read "...is a weak female character with questionable self-esteem. Oh, and she's not very intelligent" I thought, no way.
This reviewer was apparently not reading too closely. As for the others... Maybe because it wasn't your stock, YA dystopian novel with the usual "kick a**" heroine and the boring, boring love triangle--or at least an absurdly contentious relationship with one boyfriend, and people dying in action scenes every ten pages, people didn't get their usual serving of "bland, white food."
There's not really a love triangle here, there's not really a boyfriend in the present, and so much that happened was so unexpected that I was riveted throughout the entire book.
And that's why this book is such a gem. Not only is it not the "same old, same old," it's well-written, has great characters, doesn't have a bunch of logic flaws, and has so many twists that you don't see coming but make sense once each revelation is revealed. Which is another positive: the pacing. There is just enough action interspersed with the slow unfolding of the story of why Rose is the way she is. There's also the perfect balance of past tense/present tense.
Bottom line, a good writer can write a good book, but unless the writer has a true understanding of him/herself and people in general, the psychological and emotional depth won't be there. This author not only managed an intricately plotted novel, but also does have that deep understanding of human nature necessary to pull off this spectacular story.