It should have been a short suspended-animation sleep. But this time Rose wakes up to find her past is long gone-- and her future full of peril. 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 subbasement, 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 gone, 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. (from Goodreads)
Sleeping Beauty with a scifi twist! I love fairy tale retellings, especially ones that don’t just retell the same old story with modern characters. A Long, Long Sleep also did that thing I love where it diverts from the original fairy tale in ways that give the female character(s) more agency than they originally had! YAY for books that do that– it keeps it from being the same old boring fairy tale, and it ALSO gives us a new narrative besides “the prince saves the princess.”
A Long, Long Sleep didn’t go the typical YA romance route, either. It’s kind of a trend nowadays to have an OTP established in the first chapter and that’s IT, no diverting from it ever, nothing. Even a love triangle only causes a momentary blip in the path of True Love.
I find that whole trope really boring and unrealistic in a way that feels a little disingenuous. People can fall in love with more than one person, and just because you loved someone at 16 doesn’t necessarily mean you should be with them for the rest of your life. In A Long, Long Sleep, Rose has already had the OTP one true love at a young age thing. She meets Bren (the “prince” who woke her up) and it SEEMS like she’s going to have that again…only there’s a twist.
(This might count as a spoiler, btw, but it’s such an interesting twist to the standard YA storyline that I wanted to talk about it no matter what.)
One, Rose is still working through her feelings for her dead boyfriend, Xavier. She’s interested in Bren, entranced by him, thinks she might be in love with him, but it’s not presented as some amazingly happy thing. She’s terrified of her feelings and doesn’t particularly want to have them. She misses her boyfriend and she’s grieving for him! I so appreciated that the possibility of love with Bren didn’t just magically wipe out her feelings for Xavier. It would have been discourteous to Rose and her situation.
Two, Bren is not interested in dating her!1 He’s actually kind of scared of her, and not in a sexy way.
Three, Rose has much more chemistry with another character, which builds up over the course of the book through actual interaction and talking about feelings and whatnot. The possibility of THAT romance made me much more excited as, again, it subverts from the standard prince + princess formula.
Four, the book ends with a happily-for-now without a romantic relationship element. This will probably disappoint some romance fans, as it’s not the HEA expected from a fairy tale (even a retelling). However, I thought it was true to the character(s) and their personal growth throughout the course of the book, and it leaves room open for more things to happen in other books. Yay!
That said, though I adored the subversion of standard YA romance tropes, Rose is an EXCRUCIATING POV to get through. She’s so shy and self-deprecating and wimpy that I honestly couldn’t stand her for most of the first half of the book. Add to that that the (male, always male) characters are all “omg Rose you’re amazing” without anything amazing actually being SHOWN– or it being hidden under Rose’s “I’m not worthy” attitude– made me feel a little like I was supposed to think Rose was amazing, too. Only I didn’t! Not ’til the end, at least.
The thing that surprised me the most is that Rose has no female friends at all. The only female character (who isn’t related to Rose) in contact with her for more than one chapter is her psychologist. All of Rose’s close personal relationships are with men, all the important people making decisions about her life are men, all the people she feels the most deeply for are men, all the people she’s personally interested in (romantically or otherwise) are men. It’s a very male-heavy cast, and it’s very disappointing that there weren’t more female characters. Even all the CEOs of Rose’s company are men! What, are there no female CEOs in the future?
A Long, Long Sleep feels very much like a first book, like an author’s first babysteps, but it has a lot of promise and I love the blending of fairy tale and scifi. All I need is more female characters and more non-straight characters and I’m good to go! I look forward to reading Anna Sheehan’s other books, whenever they come out.
Read: March 10-30, 2014
- I kept hoping he might turn out to be gay, as there is no GLBTQ characters in the future, apparently. Though there ARE non-white ones! Huzzah! ↩