Saturday, September 24, 2011

Review: A Long, Long Sleep

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A Long, Long SleepA Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Anna Sheehan's futuristic take on Sleeping Beauty has all the soporific qualities of a fairy tale without any of the fun or excitement. The end result is a lot like a bottle of Perrier that has been left in the sun with a loose cap: funky yet flat.

Rosalinda Samantha Fitzeroy aka "Briar Rose" has been "stassed" (future-speak for artificial hibernation) for decades. When Bren, a handsome young man kisses her and wakes her from her slumber, Rose is in a new world with unfamiliar technology and slang, and none of her family or friends. Oh yeah, and this robot keeps showing up to chase her around. I hope I'm not giving too much away there.

Superficially, this is an interesting idea. In fact, I was excited to read this. I love retellings of fairy tales. Admittedly, The Sleeping Beauty never has been one of my favorites, and even at that, I think Sheehan might have missed the point of the original story by focusing only on the science fiction potential that comes with a story about someone who, like Rip Van Winkle, has been asleep for a long time and wakes up in a world that is the same and yet also dramatically different than the previous one. Where A Long, Long Sleep misses is the psychological underpinnings that have made Sleeping Beauty a classic story. On one level, we have the Freudian idea that girls go from having all kinds of romantic ideas about their future lives with a husband, children and a home of their own followed by a "latency period" during which those fantasies are put on the back burner while girls form their own identities as part of the peer group within their own gender. Then, there's this sexual awakening that takes place in adolescence. Since I was a psychology major, that's the first place I go. Sheehan does start to explore Rose's psyche a bit more deeply when she reveals that Rose's family tended to put her to sleep instead of involving her in family discussions whenever anything awkward came up. Interesting, but it didn't work for me. If that resonates with you, maybe you'll like this one.

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(This review is based on a digital galley furnished by the publisher via NetGalley)