Nod is one of the stranger books I’ve read recently, a brilliant concept but odd.
For some reason people have stopped being able to sleep in an odd epidemic that hits countries across the globe simultaneously. Only 1 person in 10,000 can sleep; the sleepers share a dream of a golden light.
Early news reports suggest possible reasons for the plague of wakefulness, and warn citizens that 4 weeks of sleep deprivation is fatal.
As sleep deprivation starts to affect the Awakened paranoia sets in, society starts to crumble, and there is a clear division between the sleepless and the Awakened.
Gangs of Awakened start to form, hunting down sleepers as they spend more and more time under the thrall of the golden dream.
The main protagonist Paul is an etymologyist (the study of words not insects!) and author who lives in Vancouver with his girlfriend Tanya. When the event takes place, Paul is writing a book called Nod, about lost and forgotten words. The novel is written as a diary, with an entry for each day over a 4 week period.
Paul is a sleeper, but Tanya is one of the awakened; their relationship deteriorates rapidly as she starts to suffer from the effects of sleep deprivation.
This is a really interesting idea, and as someone who suffers from insomnia I can definitely understand how lack of sleep could lead to scary behaviour.
Unfortunately the execution leaves a lot to be desired; I found Paul to be unlikeable and pretentious. For a lot of the book it seemed as though he spent more time waffling about the origins of a particular word than trying to find out what was going on, making plans for survival or doing anything useful.
Before the outbreak of mass insomnia Paul holes up in his apartment, writing his nonfiction books and sneering at the world. For a while after the outbreak he behaves in the exact same way.
I also didn’t like the writing style and found it difficult to get into the story.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.