This should have been right up my alley. I really enjoy Huston’s writing and story approach, and I have a fondness for end-of-the-world stories, but this was a resounding ‘meh.’
Usually, Huston is skilled at piquing my interest in characters lacking in likable traits or heroic qualities. I just could not develop any concern for the main character, Parker Hass (Parker. Totally generic name), who seems like a full-on Heroic-But-Loner-Boy-Scout, which you would think would be even more likable than a slacker (Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death) or a nihilistic vampire (the Joe Pitt series). But no. He was blander than white bread toast with margarine.
The narrative is three-fold, switching between the third-person view of our hero, the first-person view of our hero, and the view of a Antihero-Loner-Art-Appreciating-Assassin (a more common trope in movies). Somewhere in here, I might have cared, except I didn’t. I was mostly bored.
And the plague? Again, I love me a good disease, and real diseases are totally scary, so it should be easy to tap into an imaginary one, right? I mean, c’mon, zombie fan here. But the ‘disease’ of sleeplessness was just… sleep-inducing. Maybe Huston is such a great writer that the power of suggestion worked on me. Could be. I do know from my own episodes of sleep-deprivation or poor sleep-quality (man, do I ever dislike night shifts), that sleep-deprivation is an insidious and terrible thing. Except the horror of it rarely develops, really. It relies on Parker’s infant and his sleep-deprived wife to really get at the delusions. It should be worse, it really should; perhaps Parker is so guarded from his own emotions around it, his tightly contained fear, that it’s hard to believe he is scared.
I’m afraid I’m kind of soured on this book for a while, and will throw it into the pile to one day re-read. Meanwhile, it has me thinking about re-reading Huston’s other works to recapture that fond feeling.