Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough

Posted On 31 March 2022

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My Five Word TL:DR Review : I liked it a lot

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I’m always indescribably happy when I see that SP has a new book.  I’ve followed her work for a while now and really enjoy her writing.  To put the cat among the pigeons I would say that not only did I like Insomnia but I liked it more than Behind Her Eyes.  It’s a perfect jumble of crazy mixed up, spiralling out of control, sleepless insanity.  Every time I thought I had a handle on what was going on it turned out I was wrong and I just love the way that the ending is totally out there – let’s just say #wtfthatending – in fact maybe that hashtag will apply for all SP’s books.

To be fair, if you’ve read Pinborough you’ll be aware that her books often wander into strange territory, tales of the unexpected if you like.  There are usually elements of magical realism that surface as the book progresses but this is usually coupled with such a straightforward and contemporary style that it’s always a surprise.

Insomnia starts with Emma Averell approaching her 40th birthday.  Lots of people approach the big 4-oh with a little bit of trepidation but in Emma’s case this is exacerbated by events from her past.

Emma has an almost picture postcard existence.  A successful career, a loving-stay-at-home husband, two lovely children, a gorgeous house and an impending partnership.  Things are looking peachy until a few days before her birthday she wakes in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. I’m not going to discuss the plot any further because this is a book that is probably best explored with no knowledge beforehand.

Why did I like this book.

Well, firstly it’s deceptive.  When I first picked this up I thought I knew what was going on, but I really didn’t.  You need a level of patience here because as Emma’s sleepless nights continue her grip on reality begins to crumble.  She reflects on things from the past, particularly when people she hasn’t seen for years show up. And then the cracks start to appear.  Maybe Emma’s life isn’t as perfect as it first appeared.

Secondly, it’s frustrating, repetitive and mind bending in the best ways possible.  Here is a woman who thinks she’s going crazy.  Hell, I thought she was going crazy at many points during the story.  It’s an acknowledgement to the power of sleep and that period of restoration that your brain needs to function in a productive way.  I veered between perplexed, annoyed and flummoxed.  Why has Emma’ s life suddenly gone so haywire, why weren’t her family more supportive and what was going on at night when she completely lost periods of time – scary.

On top of this there are a few characters who dip in and out and Pinborough manages to paint them all in differing shades of suspicion.  The husband, does he resent his wife’s success?  The neighbours and the possibility of affairs.  Emma’s sister appearing out of the blue?  The client’s ex.  Even (especially) Emma.

For me, the best part of this novel is that I felt immersed in Emma’s world.  I was going slightly crazy myself and i don’t mean simply because I was staying up too late to function, I wanted to shake Emma, come on woman, snap out of it, pull yourself together.  Stop doing things that make you look insane.  But then, maybe she is insane!  She’s a hot mess of fear to put it bluntly.  She doesn’t know if she’s following in her mother’s footsteps, she doesn’t know if she’s a danger to her family, she doesn’t know if she’s committed terrible acts, she doesn’t know if somebody else has committed these terrible acts and, like Emma, I didn’t know either and it was driving me a little crazy too.

In terms of criticisms.  Well, I’m not sure that the eventual reveal will wow everyone.  It takes something of a leap but it was a leap that was easy for me to take so not a criticism so much as a ‘be aware’.

I found Insomnia an easy book to read.  It took me through plenty of emotions along the way not least of all my extreme happiness that I can fall asleep at night.  A twisty thriller with plenty of tension, well written and easy to conjure in the mind’s eye.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating 4.5 of 5 stars

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Booking Ahead/Weekly Wrap Up

Sunday Post

I’m trying to get back into the habit of doing a round-up of the week just completed and also take a look at my plans for the forthcoming week.  I rather got out of the habit of doing this but I would like to reinstate this type of post as I feel it keeps me on track.  So, I’m linking up to The Sunday Post over at Kimberly’s  Caffeinated Reviewer.  Without further ado:

This week has been a busy one although I’m not entirely sure why – the time seems to have flown by and I’ve barely had chance to break open my laptop or write up posts, but, I did manage to complete the two books that I wanted to so I’ll take that.  I read my SPFBO finalist and now have three books remaining (one of which I’ve made a start on) and I also read Insomnia which is quite possibly my favourite Pinborough so far and very aptly named because I feel like I suffered some sleeplessness myself whilst reading!  (Mainly due to ‘just one more chapter’ syndrome).  I haven’t managed to post any reviews so the blog may be a little busy this week.

Books read this week:

1 x SPFBO finalist

Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough

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  1. We Men of Ash and Shadow by HL Tinsley (SPFBO Finalist)

Wemen

  1. City of Dusk by Tara Sim
  2. Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough

Friday Face Off : A book with a one word title

FFO

Here we are again with the Friday Face Off meme created by Books by Proxy .  This is a great opportunity to feature some of your favourite book covers.  The rules are fairly simple each week, following a predetermined theme (list below) choose a book (this doesn’t have to be a book that you’ve read), compare a couple of the different covers available for that particular book and choose your favourite.   Future’s themes are listed below – if you have a cover in mind that you’re really wanting to share then feel free to leave a comment about a future suggested theme.  I’ve also listed events that take place during the year, that I’m aware of, so you can link up your covers – if you’re aware of any events that you think I should include then give me a shout.

I’ve added themes in below. For information, I’m trying out some new ideas so along with coming up with particular items for book covers I thought we could also look for certain elements contained within the book or that play a large part in the story – this really broadens things out because I have plenty of more ideas with this – I’ve gone for a few of the Tough Travel Themes (so a book with that theme – just choose any book – the theme isn’t necessarily on the cover, then compare covers), also, I’ve thrown in some genres and some colours.  Hopefully this will open things out a little and give us some more freedom to come up with new books.

This week’s theme:

A book with a one word title

Hopefully this is a nice easy theme.  I’ve read quite a lot of books over the years with just one word but as I’m all about showcasing the latest releases as often as possible I’m going to go with a book that I’ve literally just started reading.  Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough.  There’s only two cover this week so lets take a look:

2022

Apr
1st Spring forward – compare the covers for two books you’re excited about
8th – Fresh and Green – a cover that is predominantly green
15th Genre – a book or series that is urban fantasy
22nd – Tough Travel Tropes – unknown magical ability
29th – Long/pointed ears
May the Month of Wyrd and Wonder
6th All about the women – kickass moms, daughters, grans, etc
13th A favourite book to film
20th Sunny and bright  – a cover that is predominantly yellow
27th Books with ‘You’ in the title
Jun
3rd  Under the Sea – anything you like
10th Sparkling like the sea – a cover that is turquoise
17th So pretty – exactly what it says
24th Daddy Dearest – a book with a strong father role
Jul  
1st Genre – epic – any book that fits into the genre
8th Hazy and hot – a cover that is predominantly orange
15th Tough Travel Tropes – Snarky sidekick
22nd Off the TBR
29th Gigantic – monsters, giants, buildings,insects – anything at all
August
5th Tough Travel Tropes – out for summer – school or academic setting
12th Dark/sky/navy  – a cover that is blue
19th Scantily Dressed
26th Tough Travel Tropes – Vacation time – the quest
September RIP
2nd Fallen leaves – covers that are brown
9th Armour/Protection
16th Rage against the machine – anything, cogs, clockwork, AI
23rd Tough Travel Tropes – Coming of Age
30th Genre – horror
October – Horror/Dark
7th Guess who’s back?  – Vampires – popular again?
14th Witches vs warlocks
21st Tough Travel Tropes – Good vs evil
28th  Covers that are black
November – Scifi Month
4th Red skies at night – Covers that are red
11th Tough Travel Tropes – The gang
18th Genre – Swords and Sorcery
25th Genre – And they all lived happily ever after – fairy tales retold
December
2nd Tough Travel Tropes – Assassins
9th Tough Travel Tropes – Darklord
16th Genre – Grimdark (most recent/favourite, etc)
23rd Decadent and rich – a cover that is purple
30th Completions – a satisfying conclusion to a book or serie