The Sleepwalkers
J. Gabriel Gates
HCI Teens
ISBN-13: 978-0757315886
Release date: October 3, 2011


This might be the most honest book review I’ve ever written. But you’ll see why I feel my candor is warranted in just a minute. First, the tough stuff:

I laughed. I cried. I cursed the awkwardness of third person present tense prose in a status update on Facebook. Then, I figured out (don’t ask … I have my ways) that Gates wrote screenplays before he transitioned into being a novelist. After ten pages of nearly putting the book down, I sighed and figured I could give the guy a break for abusing colons and writing like he was writing… well, a screenplay. (And he is, after all, devastatingly attractive.)

And damn am I glad I did.

The Sleepwalkers was one of the best horror novels I’ve ever read–YA or otherwise–period. In fact, I’m not counting this one as YA. I think HCI only marketed it as such because YA is selling faster than hot pants in the 80s, and the main characters are technically teenagers (and, OK, there is also no graphic sex). Past that, the novel is adult in theme and content, and so incredibly amusing. I read an awful lot of books for review (and watch a lot of horror films for review for that matter), and I am normally only marginally invested in what I’m doing simply because most plots have been done a hundred times, the dialog is only sub-par and the action is full of plot devices and weakly developed characters.

Not so for Sleepwalkers, and I suspect the same holds true for anything else Gates will put out in the future. The guy has a rapier wit and a keen eye for description. I wasn’t bored even once. Believe it or not, that means something.

The dialog alone was enough to have me laughing out loud–something I text a lot, but rarely do in actuality. Bean, one of the two boys who will steal your heart, has probably the funniest lines in the book. Everything the kid says had me in stitches.

The plot is breakneck without being exhausting. The secrets and scares are eerie enough to keep even a veteran horror fan entertained, and the love story has a sweetness to it that lingers well after you’ve put the book down.

So, despite the fact that there were more than a few times where I wanted to message Gates’ editor and remind him or her that this is in fact a novel and not a screenplay, it still ranks as one of the best books I’ve read all year. Definitely a five star rating.

Gates, you’ve earned a reader for life. And whenever the movie comes out (’cause it will, the screenplay has practically already been written), I’ll be there on opening night.

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