Book review: NOD

Got a request from Amazon to write a review of NOD by Adrian Barnes. I read lots of book reviews but rarely write them; however this novel stood out for me.

~Imagine a world where most of the population was unable to sleep, and you were one of the few adults who could. This is the story of NOD.

Paul, an etymologist and misanthrope, charts the disintegration of society in Vancouver. He witnesses at close hand his wife deteriorate through a shared mysterious insomniac condition. Some of the descriptions are graphic to the point that made me want to skip over them. But I’m glad I didn’t. Through his protagonist Paul, Adrian Barnes shines a harsh light and focuses powerful lens on the subjects of his journal – and doesn’t turn away, even though the reader may want to at times.

This book is densely written in a way you would find in many literary novels rather than typical genre. And though at times can seem self-consciously wordy (with a number of obscure words, at least I had to mark a few out for definitions) and can seem overwritten, that’s the nature of the protagonist – the first person narrative where the author can be showy. But at its best the writing is superbly insightful, or at least has that verisimilitude. I don’t know exactly what would be the effects of sleep deprivation over more than a few days, but the descriptions of paranoia and insanity seem about right. However, it may not satisfy SF fans who are looking for scientific explanations.

In all this is a novel that forces you to pay attention. It may make you uncomfortable but is compelling enough that you’ll want to keep reading. If you like your fiction dark and dystopian then this is the book for you.

Though I gave it four stars above, I think 4.5 is more deserving.~