A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This one is going in my “almost favourite” book list. I likely wouldn’t read it again nor did I find it one of those rare “meaningful to my life” books, so it’s not a 5 star for me but it is a solid 4.5. I very much enjoyed it and am glad that I’ve read it.
I invested in Rose as a character and she didn’t disappoint. I don’t like heroines who display characteristics of low-self esteem but have no reason for it. The chicas who don’t know they’re beautiful but are beating off men with a stick. The chicas who display no interest in the lives of others but have a cadre of BFFS & people who can’t get enough of them. The chicas who have no hobbies, talents or interests outside of some guy but everyone thinks is the most interesting special snowflake of all time. All the while, in the midst of this, the heroine puts herself down & eschews any idea why everyone thinks she’s so great. But they never find out because they are suffering from a bad case of Mary Sue.
As a reader, I can’t take much more of those so I was a guard when I started getting to know Rose. Her self-esteem is in negative nil territory. She says she’s not beautiful & then describes what 62 years in stasis has left her with when she’s awoken. It’s not pretty. She’s emaciated, her eyes are hollow, her skin is sallow at best, her hair is a mess and she has to have nano implant surgery to stimulate and regulate her heart and muscles because they’ve atrophied over time. Oh, and her digestive system isn’t very cooperative either after 62 years of non-use. Objectively, she definitely has a case for not feeling or looking her best. And no one around is telling her how beautiful she is either. Rose has more pressing concerns anyway. She’s going to inherit her parent’s interplanetary company UniCorp when she’s of age, an assassin, called a Plastine is hunting her, she’s not any better at school now than she was before she was put into stass for the last time and she has something of a crush on a boy who basically tells her it’s absolutely not on when she tells him so. Oh, and she’s mourning the death of her parents and her long lost love which likely took place during the Dark Times (viral outbreak decimates population, financial collapse, food contaminant reduces reproduction capabilities so further population decimation and finally Reconstruction occurs leaving a still widely stratified society which spans planets now). She has all of two friends. One being the crush I mentioned before and the other a humanoid boy who is the result of gene splicing of human DNA & that of an organism found on Europa who is actually property of UniCorp. Also, she is an accomplished artist and throughout the story she harkens back to that talent and puts it to use when she needs it. She knows she’s good and she doesn’t display false modesty about it.
I won’t spoil what happens because it’s done too well in the reveals and while I suspected some of the outcomes and turns, I wasn’t dissatisfied at all when I was proven correct. I found much of the second half of the book terribly sad as revelations came to light but I found myself rooting for Rose and feeling proud for her when she accomplished some things. I couldn’t put the story down without it tugging at my thoughts. In the end, Rose actually saves herself and finds her own voice, faces the truth of her life before she was stassed and is ready to embark on exercising her own agency and that was what made the book for me. For this and other reasons I won’t spoil, I am looking forward to the sequel. I picked this up after reading something about it in an Amazon Scifi newsletter and I’m glad that I did. I would recommend this to anyone who likes futuristic settings or reimagined fairytales.
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