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5.0 out of 5 stars Second time around was much better
This has to be one of King's most misunderstood and underappreciated works. When I first read this in 1994, I was in my early twenties and didn't really connect with the older characters of this book. Now in my thirties, and not being as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I recently dusted off my hardcover and re-read this.
In my opinion this has to rank among the best...
Published on May 24 2004

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best, but worth a look
I say this book is worth a look, but it's not as simple as that. At almost 800 pages, this book kept me occupied for more than two weeks. While it kept me interested, it took so long to read that I felt like I could have read three other good books in the same time period. In my opinion, this book could have been trimmed to 400 pages and been no worse for the...
Published on Dec 8 2003


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4.0 out of 5 stars Dark Tower fans will enjoy it better, July 19 2004
By 
J R Zullo (São Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Insomnia (Mass Market Paperback)
Stephen King is an author gifted with a great power of development: his characters are, almost always, believable, even if the situations they are involved in are completely fantastic. Among SK's greatest characters we will notice many children. In "It", "The eyes of the dragon", "The talisman", "The shinning", the most interesting character are always children or young people. "Insomnia" is completely different in this aspect.
The main character in "Insomnia" is Ralph Roberts, a man pushing seventy, and not in a very good health. After the death of his wife, he starts having sleeping problems, and, stragest thing of all, his perception rises to fantastic level: he starts to see colored auras around people, little bald doctors with scissors and scalpels, and other unbelievable manifestations. Soon Ralph finds that all this has a specific purpose, and the fate of many worlds may lie in his old hands.
The beginning of the book is a little slow, very strange, but when the pace increases, it's hard to put it down. I don't think "Insomnia" has any political conotation whatsoever, even with the abortion issue. Serious as the matter surely is, I think it's there only to provide a thrilling background to the story.
I don't consider "Insomnia" my favorite Stephen King book, but nevertheless I was never bored while reading it. I think it's very good, but a little confusing at some parts. The confusion and the sense of pointlessness will be greater if the reader is not acquainted with the Dark Tower series. For that, "Insomnia" can be considered a standalone, but more like a complement to the Dark Tower books.
I would not recommend reading "Insomnia" without reading the Dark Tower first.
Grade 8.2/10
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dark Tower fans will enjoy it better, July 15 2004
By 
J R Zullo (São Paulo, Brazil) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Insomnia (Mass Market Paperback)
Stephen King is an author gifted with a great power of development: his characters are, almost always, believable, even if the situations they are involved in are completely fantastic. Among SK's greatest characters we will notice many children. In "It", "The eyes of the dragon", "The talisman", "The shinning", the most interesting characters are always children or young people. "Insomnia" is completely different in this aspect.
The main character in "Insomnia" is Ralph Roberts, a man pushing seventy, and not in a very good health. After the death of his wife, he starts having sleeping problems, and, stragest thing of all, his perception rises to fantastic level: he starts seeing colored auras around people, little bald doctors with scissors and scalpels, and other unbelievable manifestations. Soon Ralph finds that all this has a specific purpose, and the fate of many worlds may lie in his old hands.
The beginning of the book is a little slow, very strange, but when the pace increases, it's hard to put it down. I don't think "Insomnia" has any political conotation whatsoever, even with the abortion issue. Serious as the matter surely is, I think it's there only to provide a thrilling background to the story.
I don't consider "Insomnia" my favorite Stephen King book, but nevertheless I was never bored while reading it. I think it's very good, but a little confusing at some parts. The confusion and the sense of pointlessness will be greater if the reader is not acquainted with the Dark Tower series. For that, "Insomnia" can be considered a standalone, but more like a complement to the Dark Tower books.
I would not recommend reading "Insomnia" without reading the Dark Tower first.
Grade 8.2/10
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5.0 out of 5 stars Second time around was much better, May 24 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Insomnia (Hardcover)
This has to be one of King's most misunderstood and underappreciated works. When I first read this in 1994, I was in my early twenties and didn't really connect with the older characters of this book. Now in my thirties, and not being as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I recently dusted off my hardcover and re-read this.
In my opinion this has to rank among the best King has done. Do not be fooled into thinking there is a lengthy diatribe about the abortion issue. King populates both sides of the argument with good and bad people. If anything, King's message is probably "leave it alone" which I guess can be interpreted that he supports women's choice, but he really doesn't browbeat his opinions through his book (unlike say Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code).
I do think you have to be of a certain age to connect with the characters. Younger readers may not appreciate all the nuances regarding growing old that King conveys in this book.
More importantly, though, my second reading has made me realize how connected this book is with The Dark Tower series King is finishing this year. This might well be considered an ancillary Dark Tower book, as The Talisman, Black House, The Stand and now 'Salem's Lot (for Father Callahan) are.
Give this book a read. It isn't horror per se, as most of King's books aren't in the strictest definition of the horror genre. It is a well written book populated with characters you will care about for the duration of the book (and after!).
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4.0 out of 5 stars A different type of Stephen King novel, Feb. 16 2004
By 
jonathan f. (Little Tall Island, Maine) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Insomnia (Mass Market Paperback)
I have seen a lot of reviews that have deeply criticized Insomnia. This book is definitely a moderately difficuly book, but nonetheless I love it. You must be very patient with it. This book is like a snowball going down a hill. It gets faster paced and more exciting as it goes on. The last 300 pages of this novel are probably the best last pages he has written, and that is saying a lot when I've read The Shining, The Stand, and most other popular King novels. This book really enables us to see what Mr. King is like. We can see his positions on many political issues such as abortion. The book is very touching and I think everyone cried when Ralph dies at the end. My favorite part is probably when they are in the lair of Atropos and Ralph is cutting poor Atropos in pieces. Another weird scene is when the Crimson King poses as Ralph's mother. If you can get by the first 300 pages this is a tremendous book. The first 300 pages were totally sparse of action, but I found it bearable because Stephen King does a great job of letting us see what it is like having just lost an important family member like a wife, and suffering Insomnia. This novel turns from a dull book to an extreme page turner at around page 400(soft cover) when Ralph and Lois go into the Derry Home hospital to see Jimmy Vandermeer and see for the second time the little bald doctors, Clotho and Lachesis. When the quartet went to the 'upper levels' so many of my questions were answered about why Ralph was suffering Insomnia and also I learned a great deal about the Dark Tower series. The only Dark Tower book I have read was The Gunslinger. Insomnia cleared up a lot for me. I will say this again, Insomnia is a great book ,but you must get by the first 300 or 400 pages first, then the action comes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be fooled by negative reviews, Dec 19 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Insomnia (Mass Market Paperback)
Bottom line: this is a good story, plain and simple. It's not an outright horror novel. This is a story of characters and ideas. Yes, it is long and others have complained of this, but I found it to be a flowing read; even the so-called "slow" first 200 pages. I enjoyed Ralph Roberts and his friends and was captivated by his predicament.
Insomnia is a wonderful book to read if you're a King fan or not, but...
This really is a Dark Tower story, one that just doesn't follow the principle characters. One of the main points in the DT series is that there are other worlds. Ralph's Derry, Maine happens to be one of them. The Crimson King is the antagonist of the Tower, while Roland is the "hero." His name and certain images are presented later on in the book and may seem odd to those who have not read the Dark Tower series. If you love the DT series, you have to read Insomnia and it is that much more enjoyable. If you haven't, pick up the Gunslinger and Drawing of the Three to test the waters. You'll definitely want to read the whole series.
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2.0 out of 5 stars An Abstract Piece of Literature, Dec 11 2003
By 
Marcus Cormier "markisss" (Moncton, New Brunswick Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Insomnia (Mass Market Paperback)
Having read most of Stephen King's novels, 'Insomnia' was recently one of the few King novels sitting on my bookshelf I had yet read. I put off reading this book for three reasons; 1) It has received a lot of mixed and often poor reviews from all directions. 2) This is one of the fewest King novels that hasn't been adapted into a movie. Although I'm not a fan of King adaptations, this made me wonder about the books content and popularity. 3) King's somewhat dismissal and low regard concerning this novel which he states in his later book 'On Writing', quote; "...the results, in books like 'Insomnia' and 'Rose Madder', have not been particularly inspiring. These are (much as I hate to admit) stiff, trying-too-hard novels." End quote. Despite all the warning signs I had, I still picked up this brick of a novel and read it cover to cover. Here's my review.
The book is mainly divided in three parts. PART I: Little Bald Doctors, PART II: The Secret City, and PART III: The Crimson King. The first part is in my opinion the best part of the novel. It covers most of the synopsis described on the book's back cover. Like most Stephen King novels, this part deals with the build-up of the plot and the development of the characters who often deal with every day life situations which most readers can relate to. One of King's strengths is his ability to make the reader feel nice and comfortable in the first 200+ pages and then he trows us a curveball often dealing with the supernatural. Stephen King is one of the few authors who can write about supernatural phenomenons and somehow keep it realistic even to the point of having the reader relate to it. However, here, King fails miserably. From the page 270 and up, the whole story just falls apart. By then the reader falls into the trap where it is difficult to put the book down since he or she has invested so much time into it.
Even though the book is called 'Insomnia', the core of the story has nothing to do with sleep deprivation. This is just used as a build-up to the story. I'm not going to even attempt and try to explain the plot because, quite frankly, I wouldn't know where to start. This book is just plain weird and sometimes quite laughable. The main characters are two senior citizens (Ralph & Lois) who see auras around living beings and sometimes possess JEDI-like powers. There are also these out of this world little bald doctors which I believe the author tries to portray as Gollum from Tolkien's 'Lord of the Ring'. There are numerous references to this classic piece of literature including an appearance of a ring that 'rules them all'. The little bald doctors however, remind me more of Elmor Fudd rather than Gollum. After a while, you realize the development and dialogue of the characters become strained. Somehow, they seem a bit too 'Stephen King-esque' for Stephen King himself. Other than the frequent LOTR references, it seems like the author tries to somewhat imitate or parallel certain scenes with other pieces of classic stories. For example, there is a final scene where a god like being called 'The Crimson King' hides behind a huge catfish that disguises itself as the main character's long since deceased mother. The image of the Crimson King hiding behind a facade makes me think of a certain scene from 'The Wizard of Oz' where the wizard hides behind the curtain. Strangely enough, soon after this scene from 'Insomnia', there is a unrelated reference to 'The Wizard of Oz'.
The author also tries to throw in some serious real life issues and questions into the mix sush as; pro-life / pro-choice, spousal abuse, freedom of speech, pains of growing old, and Man's old question whether life and death is an act of RANDOM or does it all have a PURPOSE. Most of this just gets lost into the story's 'far-out' scope. I haven't read King's Dark Tower series yet but I believe a lot of the elements of this book relates to this series. There are numerous hints and glimpses of further phenomenons that I believe might appear in future King books. Possibly within King's upcoming final installments of the Dark Tower series.
Even if you dislike this book, you have to admit that Stephen King does have quite an imagination and can sometimes make you wonder about his own sanity. One good thing about this book is that it certainly gives us something to write about. Although this book is a total miss, it is not representative of King's writing abilities. I believe King is one of the best novelist of our time and has often been disregarded because of his falsely labelled image as a horror writer. If you want to read good Stephen King fiction, pick up 'The Green Mile', 'The Stand', 'Desperation' or even his latest 'From a Buick 8'. Stay clear of this one unless you're looking for a cure for 'insomnia'.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best, but worth a look, Dec 8 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Insomnia (Mass Market Paperback)
I say this book is worth a look, but it's not as simple as that. At almost 800 pages, this book kept me occupied for more than two weeks. While it kept me interested, it took so long to read that I felt like I could have read three other good books in the same time period. In my opinion, this book could have been trimmed to 400 pages and been no worse for the wear.
Despite these criticisms, the book was entertaining. Ralph Roberts begins experiencing "early waking" insomnia after the death of his wife. He later learns that his widowed friend Lois Chasse has the same problem. They begin to detect auras and see "long-timers", beings that exist on a different plane and live much longer lives than human "short timers". All of this spiritual enlightenment is set amid the backdrop of an abortion rights convention and the extreme reactions of Derry townsfolk on either side of the debate.
This novel explored interesting themes of fate--whether we should tamper with it, whether it really exists, whether we can change it, whether a force known as "the random" can interfere with it. It also explores the theme of death--whether there is a preordained date certain for each human, whether we can change the date certain and whether we should try, and what happens next. These themes were interesting and required the reader to do a little more heavy lifting than other King books I have read. Which is probably a good thing, but I still question whether King needed 800 pages to accomplish this goal.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Will keep you awake like you had...well...insomnia, Nov. 3 2003
By 
Stoffnbert (WI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Insomnia (Mass Market Paperback)
This is one of my favorite King books from these last few years (along with the Dark Tower series). This was one book that literally kept me up to finish. I love the image of the little men with their scissors cutting the chord and that our "hero" can now see them because he is slipping in that delirium of waking sleep. Or is he just imagining everything. Though the story loses its momentum and focus 2/3's of the way through it is quite interesting as the main characters are extremely fleshed out where you know the pain and agony of the main character - suffering through his own waking hell - unable to refresh himself with even one nights sleep - and why does he keep waking up at that exact same time? I loved the story and the details King came up with on this one. The twisted little dirty man with his bloody scissors was really a visually fleshed out "monster?!?" and a rather perverse one at that. I have not read this book in many years but so much of it still stays with me - from the walks by the airport to the den of blood and bones. An interesting look at the afterlife and what if. Makes me think of the "Men in Yellow" from "Hearts in Atlantis" and like so many of King's books - seems to referance a lot of books that come before and after.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Dark Tower Backstory, Oct. 17 2003
By 
Chip (Tewksbury, MA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Insomnia (Hardcover)
What you make of Stephen King's "Insomnia" all depends on what kind of story you enjoy. If you like King stories like Christine or Firestarter, then this is one you may wish to skip.
However, if you're a fan of his epic Dark Tower series, then this is the book for you. While it appears to get off to a slow start, it is really just setting the stage for an amazing fantasy.
Ralph isn't your typical protagonist (being older), but you warm up to him really quickly. He is your average Joe who has entered the doldrums of old age, and you become sympathetic to him right off the bat (when he loses his wife). He's a good man at heart, even after he starts losing sleep, and always has that good natured aspect with him throughout the story.
And the story...Stephen King really shakes things up by throwing in political issues (something he's only TOUCHED upon in The Dead Zone, and really not controversially). Abortion is the hot topic, and no matter what your views on it are, you can't help but appreciate how King weaved it into the supernatural aspect of the story.
Fans of the Dark Tower will get a nice dose of backstory, and a good look at the Crimson King. People not farmiliar with the Dark Tower will get a story that will most likely make them smile. It is probably one of King's lighter tales, making Ralph's friends a caring, lovable bunch, and focusing (especially in the beginning) on their lives Derry, Maine. Sure, they might see a bit more active than your run of the mill senior citizen, but if King didn't make them that way, the story would be much more boring.
Read it, but hang in there for the first two hundred pages. Your reward is a beautiful tale of purpose and loss.
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3.0 out of 5 stars "Insomnia" by Stephen King review, Oct. 2 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Insomnia (Mass Market Paperback)
This novel by Stephen King was written in 1994 in the transitioning stage of king's adolescent style of writing including "It" and "Carrie". To his now more adult style in which he writes. King addresses serious issues in this novel including abortion rights.He takes you into a super natural realm full of evil spirits taking human and animal shapes.The main characters in this story is the protagonist Ralph Roberts, his wife Carolyn and Ralph's easily tempered neighbor Ed Deepneau. The characters in this story are well developed. This 800 paged book can at the beginning be described as...horror comedy but it begins to lack that "fun" deeper in the story. And as a result it turns out not being "fun" enough to be able to carry the reader throughout the whole 800 pages!!! And plus the story tends to be tedious and somewhat repetitive. I guess Stephen King is so well known for his twisted, descriptive and suspensefull writings that this just had'nt been one of them. Especially when compared to other classics like "The Stand" or "Dark Tower." I'd reccomend skipping this novel there are much better ones worth the time but if you are patient and you've got the time and you don't mind slow and repetitive stories this would be one for you.
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Insomnia
Insomnia by Stephen King (Paperback - July 20 1995)
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