Book Review: Are You Sleeping

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3.75 stars Is this my year of the 3.75 star rating?

What had me enjoying Are You Sleeping as much as I did, and kept turning those pages with speed, was the style and structure of how this story was told. This style was the winning factor here, because the identity of the real murderer was not too difficult to figure out, even from the very early pages, the twists and reveal not original at this point concerning these novels.  So it was definitely the structure using podcast transripts, social media feeds (Twitter, Reddit) and articles that enhanced the story and had me thrilled at the ride to get to the end and the reveal.

Are You Sleeping is perfect for fans of podcasts like Serial and Ruth Ware fans of In a dark, dark wood. Both appealed greatly to me, although I have yet to try out podcasts like Serial and S-Town, and the mixing of this type of media into the story was a great big winning combination.

Poppy Parnell, blogger turned investigative journalist, reopens an already closed and solved case of murder, with the suspect serving a life-sentence, on her podcast, “Reconsidered”. Reconsidered is investigating a case that is just over a decade old and about Chuck Buhrman’s murder. Poppy is determined to re-examine, or “reconsider” all the, or lack of evidence in this case. Warren Cave has been tried and convicted for murder and has been serving time the past thirteen years in prison. Warren Cave was convicted seemingly only on one statement made by Lanie, twin sister of Josie, that she saw Warren pull the trigger on the gun that killed her father.

Josie is so devastated by her family’s past that she has changed her name, travelled the world and met the love of her life. Caleb knows nothing of Josie’s past, he thinks her parents are dead (only partially true) and that she has no siblings. She never speaks of, or talks to her sister, the very unreliable Lanie. Josie has begun listening to Poppy’s podcast and is beginning to unravel, wracked with guilt and the need to tell the truth to Caleb. When Josie’s mother dies. her past comes crashing all around her. She returns to her home and must confront her sister, her past and explain the truth to Caleb. All throughout this time, Poppy is determined, very intrusive and almost obsessive in her quest to reveal the identity of the real killer of Chuck Buhrman, no matter the cost to Buhrman’s surviving family.

When first reading, I will admit to being on high alert and almost thinking I would not enjoy this book. I recently read Ruth Ware’s latest, The Lying Game, and it was not as successful a read for me as much as In a dark, dark wood and The Woman in Cabin 10. So when I was seeing some of the elements that irritated me in The Lying Game, I was put on edge (for instance, the constant foreshadowing, and the persistent reminiscing like “Suddenly, I was fifteen again, standing in this same driveway…” that was so, so like a hammer over the head in The Lying Game.) But, it was not the case here in Are You Sleeping, thankfully.

I’m also extremely pleased to have read the paper copy of this and not listened to it in audio. I’ve seen it available in audio, can only think this would be the worst in audio! The podcast format and especially the social media feeds are an essential structure to this book, and I have no idea how the reading out of the Reddit and Twitter feeds would translate in audio. My guess is it would make for a horribly unsatisfying listening experience. The thrill of this one was switching to the different formats. Trust me – pick up the paper version so you can enjoy it fully!

Here is an example of the pages with Twitter feeds: (I would only imagine this to be irritating and unbearable having pages of Twitter posts read out to me.)

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for the advanced reading copy! I was looking forward to reading this one, and not disappointed by it – a good, fast paced read!