Ralph Roberts has a problem: he isn't sleeping so well these days. In fact, he's hardly sleeping at all. Each morning, the news conveyed by the bedside clock is a little worse: 3:15...3:02...2:45...2:15. The books call it "premature waking"; Ralph, who is still learning to be a widower, calls it a season in hell. He's begun to notice a strangeness in his familiar surroundings, to experience visual phenomena that he can't quite believe are hallucinations. Soon, Ralph thinks, he won't be sleeping at all, and what then? A problem, yes - though perhaps not so uncommon, you might say. But Ralph has lived his entire life in Derry, Maine, and Derry isn't like other places, as millions of Stephen King readers will gladly testify. They remember It, also set in Derry, and know there's a mean streak running through this small New England city; underneath its ordinary surface awesome and terrifying forces are at work. The dying, natural and otherwise, has been going on in Derry for a long, long time. Now Ralph is part of it. So are his friends. And so are the strangers they encounter.
About the Author
Few authors have tapped into our secret fears as adeptly as Stephen King, Master of the Macabre and one of the most widely read novelists writing today. With his trademark blend of fantasy, horror, and psychological suspense, this prolific and immensely popular contemporary writer continues to remind us that evil is still a potent force in the world.
Forget the lean, mean King of Misery, Gerald's Game and Dolores Claiborne. This is the other King—the Grand Vizier of Verbosity who gave us It, The Tommyknockers and Needful Things. There's much of everything in these 800 pages, including the worthy. Notable is a rare septuagenarian hero, recently widowed Ralph Roberts, whose broodings on old age immerse readers into the aging psyche almost as clearly as other King heroes have revealed the minds of children. Then there's the slam-bang final 300 pages, in themselves a novel's worth of excitement as Ralph battles demonic entities to prevent a holocaust in his small town of Derry, Maine (site of It). The problem is that the finale is preceded by more than a novel's worth of casual, even tedious buildup: Ralph's growing insomnia; his new ability to see auras around all living things; his dismay as Derry's citizens divide violently over the impending visit of a radical pro-lifer; his slow realization that celestial forces have marked Derry as a battleground between good and evil. King remains popular fiction's most reliable mirror of cultural trends, in particular our continuing love affair with horror (Barker and Koontz are palpable influences here). If this novel were liposuctioned, it would rank among King's best; as is, it's another roly-poly volume from a skilled writer who presumes his readers' appetite for words is more gourmand than gourmet. 1,500,000 first printing; $1 million ad/promo; paperback rights to Signet; simultaneous audio release from Penguin Highbridge; BOMC selection. (Oct.)
The publisher plans to promote King's latest bit of horror with an advertising campaign-aimed at everything from TV to online services-that says, ``Insomnia. It looms.'' A BOMC main selection.
School Library Journal
YA-Ralph Roberts has been waking earlier and earlier every night for weeks, and the forgetfulness and weariness caused by sleep deprivation are starting to affect him. When he begins to see brilliant auras around people and objects, his concern grows. As his nights become shorter, his visions become more terrifying, and yet more real. Strange forces are maneuvering for power in Derry, Maine, and somehow Ralph is a part of the conflict. Well-read students will note references to Greek mythology, the Bible, and to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (Houghton, 1967) interspersed with modern cultural allusions. King's forte, however, is characterization, and there is no shortage of it here. Good guys and evil are well developed, with a depth that makes them believable. Although Ralph is clearly identified as a septuagenarian, he is never stodgy or prudish, and will appeal to teens. Some of King's more recent novels, such as Gerald's Game (1992), have been disappointing, but Insomnia is closer to It (1987) and Needful Things (1992, all Viking) in its suspense and entertainment potential. A good return trip to Derry, Maine.-Robin Deffendall, Bull Run Regional Library, Manassas, VA
King's last few novels have been, by his standard, slim and economical. With this dark fantasy based on the conception of a multilevel ultimate reality, he returns to the massiveness of The Stand and It and The Tommyknockers. On one of the long, exhausting walks old Ralph Roberts starts taking as a brain tumor slowly kills his wife, he witnesses a friendly young neighbor, Ed Deepneau, behaving totally out of character--indeed, like someone possessed. About a year later and after his wife's death, Ralph begins waking early and then earlier and earlier. He also starts seeing things--intense colors streaming off people and animals. Meanwhile, Ed has turned into an antiabortion fanatic and wife-beater. Ralph intervenes to help Helen Deepneau escape from Ed, for which Ed threatens him. Or is it Ed? Ralph senses that someone or something else is in control of the troubled man. Ralph's right, of course. Ed has been involuntarily recruited on one side, and, it develops, Ralph and his also-widowed neighbor, Lois Chasse, on the other, of a supercosmic struggle the import of which King reveals with deliciously tantalizing gradualness. This is a yarn so packed with suspense, romance, literary reference, fascinating miscellaneous knowledge, and heart that only Stephen King could have written it. Marvelous--that is, full of marvels.
"Stephen King is an immensely talented storyteller of seemingly inexhaustible gifts."--Interview
"Stephen King is superb."--Time
For Ages: 18+ years old
Number Of Pages: 663
Published: 1st September 1995
Dimensions (cm): 17.5 x 10.5 x 3.8
Weight (kg): 0.318