Fiction Reviews


A Long, Long Sleep

(2011) Anna Sheenan, Gollancz, £9.99, trdpbk, 342pp, ISBN 978-0-575-10472-3

 

This is a coming of age drama set in a future where there has been a global catastrophe that has cost many people their lives. Before this, the central character, Rose, lived with her parents who were the owners of a huge corporation. Rose is put into stasis for over 60 years and awakes to find that the world has changed and that she has to adapt to what it is now, and to adjust to changes in her own life, and the fact that she is now heir to her parentsí company.

To start off with, she just wants to settle into her new school and with the guardians she has been assigned, but finds this easier said than done as she struggles to adjust to history lessons being something of a catch up experience for her, and regaining her strength, depleted from the years she was in stasis.

She also meets Bren who she forms a connection with, and gradually pieces together a picture of what happened when she was in stasis and a true picture of how things turned out the way she did. If this wasnít enough for her to deal with, a Plastine, a cyborg with specific directions, has been assigned to track her down and when it is unable to locate any of Roseís relations, has instructions to kill her...

This is a coming of age drama where the central character is faced with a series of challenges to overcome and besides having to deal with the typical traumas of growing up and establishing her own identity, Rose is also faced with piecing together why she was put into stasis and what happened during that time.

It also concerns affairs of the heart where Rose is haunted with memories of a boy, Xavier, she grew up with and formed a connection with, as well as dealing with her feelings for Bren, who rescues her from stasis. The element of the Plastine hunting her down is written in quite a chilling way that provides tension, particularly when it is revealed what the Plastine's origins. The motives of Roseís parents, as she discovers them, and the manner in which she comes to know Xavier cast a dark shadow on Roseís formative years before her time in stasis.

The book is written in an engaging manner: I found it hard to put it down and it is well paced, revealing Roseís story, past and present, and the characters are well developed, particularly Otto who Rose encounters and who transpires to be a genetically developed product of her parentís company and the only one of his kind to find himself in mainstream education. As Rose gets to know him, she finds out how this came about and what became of his race.

This book is likely to appeal to teenagers given its subject matter and while there is a science fiction element to it, it is very much driven by the characters and their issues and strategies. Itís not what I could call intellectually challenging but with the use of the characters and their back stories, provides an effective backdrop for the drama that unfolds.

Sue Griffiths


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