Sarah has suffered from REM Sleep Behavior Disorder her whole life. The disorder causes her to act out her dreams—a problem that is considerable enough to warrant bedtime restraints and many medical trials. After one frightening incident, a seeming miracle drug offers her possible respite.
At a sleepover, Sarah wakes up with her hands around her friend’s throat. The incident makes her a social pariah, and Sarah finds that she would do almost anything not to have to worry about hurting someone ever again. She accepts a new trial medicine that promises no more movement in her sleep.
At first, the drug seems to work. But then strange things start happening in her dreams. Side effects are fascinating. A boy named Wes is along for the ride, showing up in her sleeping and waking hours.
Sleeper is a roller-coaster read. Wes proves to be a thrill-seeking, near addict of a risk-taker; he makes Sarah feel understood after she’s been tossed from her old group of friends. He, too, knows what it’s like to suffer from sleep disorders, and he offers her empathy that she hasn’t received from anyone else—even her ex-boyfriend, Jamie. Wes’s personality is intriguing and mysterious, even if his moral code is looser than most people’s.
Cadenhead does an amazing job of making Sarah’s decisions completely relatable and understandable. When she wants to use the drug to its full advantage, it’s easy to cheer for her to go full throttle. When she begins to worry about its effects, there’s no hesitation in agreeing she’s right. It can be difficult to get a reader to follow along with a character’s every decision, but Cadenhead pulls it off. The results are thrilling.
Sleeper is entirely enthralling, with twists and layers that race through to the end.
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