While The Others Sleep by Tom Becker
Paperback, 250 pages
Expected Publication: 4th March 2013 by Scholastic
Shelves: arc-or-review, books-i-own, cover-appeal, historical, horror, medical-conditions, mental-health, read-in-2013, supernatural, young-adult
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
When Alfie Mandeville's insomnia threatens to embarrass his wealthy family he is sent to Scarbrook House, a sanatorium for wealthy children. Troubled by the eerie atmosphere and skittish patient, Alfie's condition gets worse, not better. He falls under the spell of the charismatic and cruel William Travers, who seems to delight in bullying the other patients. A mysterious sighting by the water tower in the woods stirs up turbulent memories of Alfie's time in India. And as he lies awake one night, Alfie is haunte by visions of a strange creature moving through the darkness at the edge of the patients' beds. Are his tired eyes hallucinating, or is starting to lose his mind? When Alfie learns that the creatures are hunting a demon escaped from the depths of Hell - and that the only protection against them is to be asleep - suddenly insomnia becomes the most dangerous condition of all... WHILE THE OTHERS SLEEP is a gripping psychological thriller - don't read it alone at night!
While The Others Sleep is not a book that I had heard much about before I received it in the post, and I still haven't heard all that much about it now that it's been released, which is a real shame. This book is very different to most of the young adult literature which is offered today, and I mean that in a very positive way!
As soon as I read the blurb of this book, matched with the creepy cover, I was so eager to read it. I'm not a massive fan of horror, but I'm majorly intrigued by old sanatoriums and psychiatric hospitals, so the setting couldn't have been more perfect for me! The setting of a Victorian sanatorium filled with lots of troubled children was both captivating and slightly scary. I thought that the description of the sanatorium was brilliant, emphasising the eerie feel of the place. The book isn't laden with heavy historical facts and the writing isn't at all complicated, but the historical era that this story is set in undoubtedly allows a rather nightmarish atmosphere.
I really enjoyed seeing how this book progressed and how the patients at the sanatorium interacted with each other. It did take me a little while to get used to the several characters that were mentioned, as I did find it a little difficult remembering who was who at first. There are several strong characters, though I didn't feel particularly enamoured to any of them - thankfully this didn't hinder my enjoyment of the book. The two characters that I was most interested in were Alfie, the protagonist, and his friend Selena. I personally thought that Selena was a much more intriguing character than the others as it was clear she and Alfie had a somewhat complicated history. We do get to learn about her, but I would still liked to delve even deeper into her mind. For me, Selena was the highlight of the book.
I liked Alfie as a character, though I admit that I didn't love or connect with him. I did go through a range of feelings towards him as the story developed and changed. I am quite torn about the revelation towards the end of the book, the 'twist', which is why I haven't given this book a higher rating. Though it was a good idea and clever on the author's part, I think that it made the rest of the book feel a bit underwhelming and as though we didn't truly get a good idea of Alfie. The ending of the story offers more action and a faster pace than the rest of the book and I'm sure it will to appeal to many.
Overall, I found While The Others Sleep to be a very well written book and also a refreshing, non-stereotypical approach to the young adult genre. If you're into psychological thrillers or horror, I'm sure that this will be a treat. Even if you're not particularly into thrillers, this would definitely be a nice change to your usual reading choice. Becker looks to be like a very promising author and I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next!