Before starting this review, I have to start with a disclaimer. I love Stephen King. He can do no wrong. Having said that, I did not start this book with high hopes. While I love Stephen, I know nothing about Owen. In September, I attended a presentation by Stephen and Owen in Naperville, Illinois where the authors discussed writing the book and read a few excerpts. I didn’t pick the book up to actually read the 699 pages until this past Sunday.
You can read the book blurb here
In the near future, mother nature presents an epidemic that effects only women when they go to sleep. They develop a cocoon that shrouds them. If the cocoon is disturbed, the women wake up zombie-like and go postal on the poor man who disturbed them. This epidemic becomes known as the Aurora virus.
There are a host of characters…almost too many to count. But a few of the main characters –
- a woman named Eve/Evie who has something to do with the epidemic, is immune to the sleeping sickness and is a sort of supernatural being who steers events
- Clint – a psychiatrist at a women’s prison where a lot of the action takes place. If Eve is the woman in control, then Clint is the man working to set things right
- Lila, the town Sheriff who tries to stay awake with coffee and illicit drugs
- Frank, the town dog catcher who is mighty angry!
As with any King novel, there are many characters with back stories and conflicts to get through before we get to the meat of the novel. What happens to the world with no women to temper the angry and often violent impulses of men?
In the small town of Dooling (most of his novels are set in a small town), chaos and violence ensues before we get to the final showdown.
While there are plenty of supernatural and spiritual elements – a magical tree, a woman named Eve who communes with animals and an alternate world with only women, this book is also a commentary on fake news, rampant tales of sexual violence and assault and police shootings. In a way, the book puts men on trial. And they are found guilty.
There is no clean and happy ending. But too much has gone down for that. The book does end with hope. And sometimes, that’s all we have to go on.