There is a distinct potential for cheesiness in the concept of A Long Long Sleep – a sleeping beauty/dystopia mash-up. However, I found that the writing was excellent, and that the issues raised were so compelling that there was no hint of cheesiness. It actually had unexpected depths and an extremely compelling story.
Rosalinda Fitzroy is the daughter of the most powerful corporate leader there is. She has just woken up from a sixty-two year sleep in stasis. Waking up was hard – her body is wasted and barely functional after her long sleep. The world into which she emerges is even harder to face – her loved ones are long dead, and the catastrophic Dark Times and subsequent Recovery have altered her world drastically. Though she is heiress to her father’s empire, Rose finds she doesn’t fit in anywhere, and that her only escape is through her art that is augmented by the vivid stasis dreams she has been immersed in.
However, as Rose faces the painful aspects in her past, she slowly begins to recognize the source of her alienation and timidity. Helped by Brendan, the young man who woke her up with a kiss (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation), and a genetic oddity, Otto, Rose slowly confronts what has happened to her, and questions the memory of her devoted parents.
The themes Sheehan touches on in this story were deeper than I had expected: corporate control; inequitable distributions of wealth; the dangers of genetic engineering; the allure of drugs as an escape from reality; parental neglect and abuse of power; and the process of aging or staying young while the world ages around you. Without giving anything away, the relationship between Rose and her childhood love Xavier was touching and heartbreaking – beautifully drawn out and agonizing in a very compelling way.
I’m sure Long Long Sleep will not be for everyone, but I was pleased to find that it had appeal beyond the fluffy romance crowd. Though nowhere near as gritty and dark as dystopias like Ship Breaker or Elephant Mountains, it had issues that cut to the core of our society and psychology. I hope many people read and enjoy this most excellent book.