Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Review: The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian

The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian

The Sleepwalker is the third novel I've read by Chris Bohjalian and by far my favorite. Before I dive into my review I must credit this author with hooking his readers from page one. The Sleepwalker manages to dominate that interest and never relinquishes its grip. Suffice it to say, I did not have to sleepwalk through this novel. (That's all I got for word play... I promise).

Lianna Ahlberg's life comes to a sort of standstill when her mother disappears into the night. Early on, her narrative discloses that yes her mother's lifeless body is eventually found. What is the true mystery of this novel is how she died or who killed her. With her sleepwalking being a strong factor, we struggle through the clues Lianna provides in helping crack the case of the sleepwalker and her last whereabouts.

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Bohjalian explores the world of sleepwalking in ways I never knew existed. Little did I know there were so many levels to this sleep disorder. Its during these moments of sleep and wakefulness people have been found to do the oddest of things. Some take a stroll, others may make themselves a sandwich, while a few might go looking to pleasure themselves. The ID takes over and we're left with someone who is there, but not quite there. 

As Lianna's story unfolds, the tawdry side of this phenome come to light. We readers are forced to dissect and read between the lines in an effort to help uncover the mystery of Annalee. Why does she only sleepwalks when her husband is away? Could she have possibly passed this onto one of her children? Did someone randomly murder her or was this death brought on by someone a lot closer? 

I can't say I was entirely impressed with Lianna as a character and that's possibly because of her age. She's a few months shy of twenty-one and it's this makes her seem naive to me at times. Bohjalian does manage to dial back the annoyingness that can be the average twenty-something by giving her a voice and vocabulary a lot wiser than her years, even when her actions aren't. I credit the often poetic vibe I get from her narrative to her English professor father. If it had not been that, I feel the stoner persona she seemed to have would have drawn thin on my nerves.

I understand that this persona was necessary to give Lianna depth since most of us move around in a state of neither awake of asleep (sleepwalking so to speak) when dealing with a death, but you can't be a super sleuth and wade in fog forever. At some point, someone's gotta pull you back from the bridge. 

Overall, The Sleepwalker was a worthwhile read. I didn't see the ending coming at all. Sure this novel is primarily a mystery but all the information on sleepwalking just takes the cake. I think it's safe to say that at this point I am definitely a fan of Bohjalian's work. This is my third review of his work so... I urge all his fans to read The Sleepwalker. There is no danger of meandering or sleepwalking through this one. ****

Copy provided by Doubleday Books via Netgalley

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