A Long, Long Sleep
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Candlewick (August 9, 2011)
Source: Free e-book from NetGalley
Rosalinda Fitzroy has been asleep for sixty-two years when she is woken by a kiss.
Locked away in the chemically induced slumber of a stasis tube in a forgotten sub-basement, sixteen-year-old Rose slept straight through the Dark Times that killed millions and utterly changed the world she knew. Now her parents and her first love are long dead, and Rose -- hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire -- is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat.
Desperate to put the past behind her and adapt to her new world, Rose finds herself drawn to the boy who kissed her awake, hoping that he can help her to start fresh. But when a deadly danger jeopardizes her fragile new existence, Rose must face the ghosts of her past with open eyes -- or be left without any future at all.
After 62 years of “sleeping” in a stass tube, Rose Fitzroy is awakened. To her horror she has found that everyone she once knew has died. She is a foreigner in a new time. She doesn’t fit in with her new surroundings, and she is terribly out-of-date in both fashion and speech. For a 16-year-old girl, she seems more like someone’s grandmother than the long-lost daughter of the prestigious founders of UniCorp. But then again, Rose is nearly 100 years old.
The new life that Rose is faced with is difficult for her to come to terms with. She suddenly realizes that she is still a teenager, faced with all of the troubles a typical teenager has to face. She has to attend high school and try to assimilate in to a new culture. Her childhood was spent moving from one school to another, so it’s hard for Rose to adjust. Bren and Otto—an “experiment” conducted by UniCorp that produced an alien like human being—are her only friends. Talking with Otto helps her sort out her thoughts, but it doesn’t provide peace. Additionally, her feelings for Bren complicate things.
It seems that adjusting to her new life is taking a relatively normal path until she is attacked by a walking human corpse-like robot assassin. Suddenly, Rose realizes that someone wants her dead. But who? She’s too young to take control of her dead parents’ company (and she doesn’t really have an interest in it anyway). Everyone that she’s ever known is dead… or are they? Will Rose be able to survive her new life, or will the assassin complete his mission?
My original impression of this book was that it would be some type of a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. There were plenty of hints to make me think that. A reviving kiss (ok, CPR), the lovely girl named Rose, etc. However, that is not the case. Instead, I got a great science-fiction read. Maybe the underlying hints of Sleeping Beauty were present, but that was the only resemblance. This book was certainly unique on its own. I’m afraid I’ll have to give some spoilers because it’s too hard to tell what I liked about this book without telling some of the (complicated) plot.
The first thing that made me like this book was the characters. There were so many unique characters in this book that added a lot to the story line. For instance, the protagonist, Rose, is very complicated. She starts off seeming like she’s completely helpless. She’s passive when she should be assertive, and she is always apologizing. She seems to be plagued by self-loathing. Rose was such a great character because she changed throughout the book. By the end of the story, she had accepted her fate. By coming to terms with her awful childhood and the present state of things, she seemed to grow stronger. It was a very strange coming of age moment that seemed to take nearly 100 years to reach. I also loved Xavier and Otto. As a young boy and teenager Xavier seemed to be Rose’s strength. He was always understanding and supportive when her family constantly stashed her off in stasis (a suspended sleep state). Their passionate first kiss was extra steamy. You could sense the passion between the two. I personally liked the fact that Xavier could see Rose’s parents for what they really were—“vampires.” Metaphorical vampires, that is—not the paranormal type. I enjoyed both characters so much that I felt both his and Rose’s pain when Rose had to break up with him. I felt like a little bit of myself was crushed with them. Some of the other characters are charming as well. Even though they are only mentioned briefly, the description of Bren’s family gave the impression of a family filled with love. I wish they would have had a stronger presence in the book. Finally, there is Otto—the alien-like boy with bluish skin and glowing yellow eyes. I couldn’t help but picture Nightcrawler from the X-Men when I read the description, minus the tail and weird hands. Otto seemed to be the only person in Rose’s group that truly accepted her from the beginning. He openly admitted that she was strange and frightening, but he also admitted that he was the same way. Even though they are complete opposites, they had a connection that wasn’t felt with the other characters. It seemed that Otto brought out the best in Rose and helped her to become the (new) person that she needed to be.
Another thing that was great about this book was the plot. It had its moments when it hopped around a bit—especially when it would go from present to past actions—but overall it was very well paced. The majority of the book was very fast paced. Aside from pacing, however, the content of the plot was what really stood out for me. I was haunted and deeply disturbed by the parents in this book. Although they were dead when the story began, they kept creeping up in Rose’s memories. I found myself getting infuriated with them at times. It seems they just put their child in stasis whenever she became an inconvenience to them. I couldn’t help but think about the parents in the world today that ignore their children unless they have some self-centered reason for giving them attention. You hear stories about this all the time. The parents in the book seemed the exact same way, except they were super rich. They paid off anyone that might bring attention to their actions in order to keep their perfect public image. How many times do we actually suspect that happening with the celebrities that flood the media? I felt so sorry for Rose. Her entire childhood was stolen from her because of someone else’s selfishness. Actually, her entire life was stolen from her. She lost sixty two years in stasis because of her parents!
I would certainly recommend this book. If you like science fiction you would probably enjoy this book. I don’t call myself a science fiction reader, but I really enjoyed this book. It has restored my hope in the genre. On a basic level it’s a good story with a fast paced plot and likeable characters. On a deeper level, however, it’s much more than that. I would love to read this with a group of students (or a class) and see what kind of discussions would come from it. The underlying layers are so deep.
Just for fun, this is how the book ends: “I dream that one day I’ll truly believe in my place in this world. I dream that I am strong. And I have three best friends who dream with me. My name is Rosalinda Samantha Fitzroy. I am one hundred years old. I am free. I am haunted. But if nothing else, I am wide awake.” LOVE IT!