Nod by Adrian Barnes


Book of the Year 2012 (see all)

As the title refers to the land of Nod, the novel takes a look at the after effects of a global event which makes people unable to sleep. We see what happens first hand through Paul's eyes as he is one of the rare Sleepers here, who can see what is going on as readers can understand through him as an author himself how society can go from being bustling, non-stop excitement, life, death and fun to being cut short, put to a halt as most of humanity acts zombie-like living with the hope that they can sleep, and crushed by the thought that they, like many others, can't. Imagine if you can't sleep, you try as you might, but nothing works, and soon it turns you insane with the worry that you can’t and then the inevitable happens, you die. This is the premise for this book, and it seems startlingly real as you get into it.

Vancouver is the place for Paul to try and think his way out of the problems he faces after the event has occurred. When the announcement went out about the event, people didn't think it was real, they denied it would ever happen and got on with their lives, yet one by one, they fell to it like it was a disease, inescapable, and deadly. Paul is not the most sociable person; he likes his own company as being an author makes it easier for him to keep out of harm's way. He does have a girlfriend, Tanya, who he has shared a long time with. As an author, it is easy to imagine how he could have spared any time with her considering also his constant observation of the human race and not being a real part of it.

If anyone has ever tried to get a good night’s sleep and not managed it for several days, or even a week, or been an insomniac, they will view this novel as a form of torture and maybe understand it more than the average reader. As the situation gets more and more problematic, the authorities try to take a stand against the insomnia outbreak, and it, as usual doesn't work and all the while Paul watches his one true love get the insomnia illness and steadily go to her demise. One thing this book is is a chronicle of a love story that could have been epic for him if his lover had been bothered enough. As Paul is one of the Sleepers, he takes great pains to keep it hidden from others, but gets noticed by a bunch of people who think of his as almost like a god who, as every author would like, hang on his every word, even want to understand one of his manuscripts as the work of a prophet.

Everyone else in the story has their own part to play and as they feel the pain of loss, so do we. Nod is an intense, dark, and foreboding novel. It's short and bitter-sweet as it concentrates on the unhappiness of others in an apocalyptic landscape where it's as though there is a huge clock around ticking down to the death of everyone on the planet. Paul does a great job of acting as though he doesn't care about those around him, well as a loner he would, wouldn't he. But the very act of not caring when people are dying is strange and Adrian could have made the character have more feeling (speaking from a loner who feels perspective) especially for his girlfriend. For me, the story is excellent, dark and doom laden enough to encourage me to read on to the very last page, the characters well created and fleshed-out, this is one for those who like their doom extra dark and disturbing.

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1 positive reader review(s) for Nod


Nod reader reviews

from USA

I feel like if I read this book again, I would understand it better. There is clearly a deeper meaning in the pages than the story we see on the surface, but I couldn't quite get to all of it, which left me feeling empty. I haven't read a book this late into the night in years. In fact, I'm such an insomniac myself that this book is my nightmare. Yet I didn't want to put it down. So that definitely speaks in this book's favor. I do wish we had truly known why the Sleepocalyse started, what the Dream meant, but for better or worse, our knowledge is limited to that of our First Person Narrator. All in all I find it to be a solid novel. At times it can be hard to understand what the overarching meaning of the whole thing is, but there is such beautiful prose and such profound truth within Paul's musings on life as the world falls apart around him. I feel after reading such truths, that my perspective of the world has shifted. Which, hey, maybe that desire to shift is what Barnes wanted readers to feel. There is so much going on under our world of words and societal constructs, but we accept the surface as it is presented to us. Should we really be that passive?

8.5/10 from 2 reviews

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