Erik Stelling ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
The hype for a new Stephen King novel, since his Bill Hodges Trilogy ended in 2016 with End Of Watch, had fans wondering what was coming next. Fast forward a year and we have Sleeping Beauties, the first novel Stephen King has co-written with his son, Owen. Weighing in about 2.5 pounds and over 700 pages, fans know that they are in for quite the journey. But is it worth the hype?
Sleeping Beauties is set in a dystopian-like future that feels very much like today’s society. The setting is around Dooling, Maine (a common state for almost every Stephen King novel). A virus is causing women across the globe to go into a deep sleep and start to be wrapped up in a cocoon-like substance. Consequently, they aren’t able to wake up. An elusive character named Evie is unaffected and just might be the key to figuring out what this Aurora disease (the name is based on the Disney princess from Sleeping Beauty) is about. The story interweaves the town of Dooling, Maine and an all female prison located nearby where the prisoners begin to go into a deep sleep one by one.
You know you’re going to have to pay close attention to what each character is doing at any given time when the first thing you see when you open a Stephen King novel is four pages of character descriptions. In the first half of the novel, the writing sometimes feels cluttered, making the reader unsure who the main characters are and who will be “asleep” by the end of the novel. You could be rooting for characters that may not be around for the duration of the novel. Around half way through you start to see characters being focused on and their arcs starting to form. Whether it’s Clinton Norcross trying to keep the Dooling women’s prison from going crazy or Frank Geary trying everything to wake his little girl up.
Fans of Stephen King’s past horror books might find the case of a virus wiping out people across the nation similar to his 1978 novel The Stand. Although, don’t think that Sleeping Beauties has no horror in it. What happens when members of the Dooling community try and wake their loved one up does quite the opposite of what readers might think.
Overall, Stephen King has been everywhere in the news this year. There was the box office smash hit It earlier in September, and another adaptation of his work, Gerald’s Game dropping on Netflix the same month. However that’s not to say there hasn’t been a few misfires. The television series called The Mist based on King’s novella was just cancelled after one season, and the highly anticipated film, The Dark Tower underperformed at the box office. Where does Sleeping Beauties fit? It’s ambitious plot and interesting characters propel this book into the win column. It’s intriguing to see Stephen working with his son, Owen, on this novel. It makes you wonder how much each of them wrote. Regardless they have a success on their hands that readers will be sure to love for decades to come.