Book Review: “Sleeping Beauties” by Stephen King & Owen King

sleeping beautiesStephen King’s latest (a collaboration with son Owen) is going to have a very polarizing reaction among readers for a few possible reasons. It will likely turn some off because of how derivative it is of his earlier works, most notably “The Stand”, what with it beginning with a seemingly apocalyptic scenario: the women of the world are all falling to sleep and becoming wrapped in cocoons. Others will thrill at reading an old master being influenced by new blood to create something vital and new in a specific sub-genre that he excels at. Some might find the book a bit unwieldy and bogged down with too many characters. Others will marvel at how well Mr. King can juggle such a large cast and how short he can make 700+ pages feel, though admittedly, the one weak point in the book can be a bit of rather thin characterization. I suspect though that most who dislike it will probably take issue with the not-so-subtle politics of the story. The men largely don’t handle themselves very well without women around, and the worst behavior among them tends to come from those most likely to be seen wearing a #MAGA hat (there are even a couple of anti-Trump jokes sprinkled in for good measure). Those of a more liberal persuasion, or who are at least open to reading material that might go against their assumptions about the way the world works, will find a lot to like here. The message may be lacking in the nuance department at times, but it’s still a pretty good one. While it’s ostensibly about women being the “fairer” sex in more ways than one (though not without fault), there’s really another, more timely message at the heart of this story. That we shouldn’t be so quick to rush to judgments simply because we WANT certain facts to be true. And that is something everyone increasingly needs to remember in today’s climate, regardless of political affiliation. This thrilling, engaging story drives the point home pretty relentlessly, and then ends in a way that makes one wonder if even the ostensible “good guys” are the saints they are often made out to be. It will leave you thinking about it for quite a while afterwards. ★★★★★ – Sean Farrell


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