Friday, 10 April 2015

SP Book Review: Sleeping Tom

SLEEPING TOM by E.V. Fairfall
3 Stars
Verdict: Brilliant first third. I can definitely recommend the first third...

Hitchhiking is a bad idea but Caden is desperate. 

When she accepts a ride from the first car to come by she meets Gabriel. He's her age, hot, and the closest thing she has to a savior. Problem is, he is a total jerk. With nowhere to go, Caden convinces Gabriel to let her stay with him for one night. He reluctantly lends a couch.

That night Caden wakes up to strange noises. Concerned, she rushes into Gabriel’s room, already anticipating his bad temper. Instead, he’s kind, sweet, and suspiciously harmless—nothing like the man who gave her a ride. He seems like a different person altogether, and claims he is. By night he is Tom, and by day he is Gabriel. Caden finds herself drawn to the mysteries hidden in his eyes.

For Gabriel, Caden is an annoying mistake. One night turns into many, and despite all his anger towards her, she stays. She even seems to accept him and his flaws, but he still doesn’t trust her—is she staying for him, or has she already discovered more than he's willing to share?


The Rating Breakdown

Enjoyment: 3  I enjoyed a lot of it.

Writing Style: 3 Strong with weak spots.

Plot: 3 Utterly gripped to start with, uninterested by the end.

World & Concepts: 3 More research needed perhaps.

Characters: 5 Interesting, broken, full of personality.

Finish: 3 Beautiful cover. A few weak sections.

Strengths: A curious 'condition' that pulled me in.

Weakness: An ethical dilemma overlooked.


Oh, this one started out strong. Strange occurrences and mysterious pasts - I couldn't put it down. We have a girl running from an abusive past, but why can't she go home? She used to be called Rebecca but now insists she's called Caden, as she tries to be a stronger person. She takes refuge with a stranger called Gabriel, who treats Caden badly despite also wanting her to stay close to him. But Gabriel has another side to him. At night Gabriel becomes Tom, a young boy that enjoys playing games with Caden and wants her to stay - he's like a a younger brother. 

There's a good balance of mystery and intrigue at the start. I had to know what was going on. 

Around two thirds in, I disconnected entirely. In my opinion, the author steered this story in a strange direction, and the story lost it's appeal once the mystery settled down. I'm going to have light spoilers in this section so I can explain why.

Light spoiler ~*~ I'll admit, Gabriel and Caden had chemistry. However, I was under the impression that Gabriel's other personality, Tom, was a child. Portraying a child was something the author did pretty well. Tom equals child. So when Caden coerces Tom to kiss her, it just felt wrong. After all, age is just a number that's closely linked to your maturity and development; it was clear that Tom didn't want to kiss her and didn't understood what kissing was. Eek.

I liked that Caden wanted to be stronger, but that made me disinterested in her choice of romantic partners. Caden's ex-boyfriend Sean was abusive, Gabriel is abusive, and Face is overly involved for someone she meets at a party once. Tom, as established before, was a ten year old boy in my mind, so although I liked him, I didn't consider him a viable love interest option even though it seemed as if the author tried to write it that way. 

My other issue was that I lost interest. The thing is, if you pull a reader in with mystery, you need a satisfying reveal. The last third sorta became about a love triangle, and the intense mystery sizzled away. Gabriel was a fascinating character, but we never really learn anything about him either. We still don't really know what's going on with him, and Caden ends up kinda where she started out.  

~*~ End Light Spoiler ~*~

There wasn't enough going on to string me along for a couple of books, so I was disappointed to find out that's what was intended.

There's also plot repetition. Caden has the tendency to run away from where she's living only to be offered a bed and food like she's a stray cat. It's a little coincidental and shocking that she only bumps into future love interests rather than rapists/murders.

This last quibble is probably entirely me, but I'll mention it anyway. I found it unrealistic that someone interested in metal illness was directed by a librarian to a book that's older than the librarian herself. To learn about mental illness you'd want the latest version of the DSM or ICD, or a modern book filled with recent research. Using a dusty old leather encyclopaedia is about as much help learning about mental illness as a medieval book of medicine would be on helping with cancer. Obviously, I can shrug this point off, but I'll make it for future reference. 
Towards the end, I had lost interest. It just didn't sit right for me. Then again, I know this book has a lot going for it too. I would still recommend you to give it a go if I haven't put you off too much!

Source: Author for a group read.