Kathleen Barber’s Are you Sleeping began with a great premise and a chilling first chapter, but quickly became dull and repetitive.
Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood in this inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case—and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter.
The only thing more dangerous than a lie…is the truth.
Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father’s murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay. The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.
When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.
As an obsessive fan of true-crime podcasts, I was excited to begin reading Are you Sleeping, a fictional crime story inspired by the immensely popular “Serial”. The novel’s plot is inventive and interesting, but it didn’t measure up to real deal crimes. The great thing about fiction, especially fictional crime, is that there are no barriers stopping the author from adding crazy, improbable twists and turns. However, instead of taking advantage of this, Barber wrote the most lukewarm and typical crime story. It was a straightforward and simple murder involving jealousy and extramarital affairs. The outcome and ending, while unexpected, were in no way shocking.
Recently, I’ve read and enjoyed many of Tana French and Gillian Flynn’s mystery novels. I love the secrecy and shocking twists found in these book–which Are you Sleeping cannot compare to at all.
The characters in Are You Sleeping spoke and acted in cliches. They are frequently selfish, petty, and one-dimensional. However, I did enjoy the development of the relationship between twin sisters Josie and Lanie, which changes from cold to warm as the truth is divulged. I also liked how Barber included fake podcast excerpts and tweets throughout the pages, giving the book a very modern feel.
Overall, Are You Sleeping began with a promising plot, but did not meet expectations. The murder at the center of the book is far too typical and uninteresting. The dialogue is filled with ridiculousness and cliches, and the characters are one dimensional. However, Are You Sleeping has generally been receiving great reviews, so don’t take my word for it’s quality. As I mentioned before, I am obsessed with both true and fictional crime, and hold high expectations for anything being published in those genres. I do still think that you may have a more entertaining experience listening to Serial than reading this book.
If you read Are You Sleeping, what were your thoughts?
I received this book from Gallery Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Are You Sleeping will be published on Aug 1st, 2017