Title: Sleep Donation
Author: Karen Russell
Published: March 25th, 2014 by Atavist Books
Blurb from Goodreads:
From the author of the New York Times bestseller Swamplandia!, and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, an imaginative and haunting novella about an insomnia epidemic set in the near future.
A crisis has swept America. Hundreds of thousands have lost the ability to sleep. Enter the Slumber Corps, an organization that urges healthy dreamers to donate sleep to an insomniac. Under the wealthy and enigmatic Storch brothers the Corps' reach has grown, with outposts in every major US city. Trish Edgewater, whose sister Dori was one of the first victims of the lethal insomnia, has spent the past seven years recruiting for the Corps. But Trish’s faith in the organization and in her own motives begins to falter when she is confronted by “Baby A,” the first universal sleep donor, and the mysterious "Donor Y."
Sleep Donation explores a world facing the end of sleep as we know it, where “Night Worlds” offer black market remedies to the desperate and sleep deprived, and where even the act of making a gift is not as simple as it appears.
I needed a book to read while I was getting over some type of 24 hour virus I had acquired from god-knows-where--it actually took 36 hours to feeling back to normal. This book seemed perfect because it's a novella and I wanted something short and sweet to get me through the two days off I had while recuperating with large amounts of sleep (sleep donation is definitely something I don't need) thrown into the mix.
From the first page I was hooked. The entire concept of donating sleep to insomniacs is very interesting to me and it's written in a way that makes it seem totally possible. People who have acquired this type of insomnia are called "orexins" for the neuropeptide that has been impaired.
"the signalling function of the neuropeptide orexin has become impaired. Orexin deficiency has been linked to human narcolepsy, but this dysfunction causes the opposite effect: an untenable hyperarousal. Sleep becomes impossible."
The insomnia has become a pandemic and one donor, Baby A, has sleep qualities that have been shown to completely reverse the insomnia. Baby A is six months old and her parents are allowing her to donate only what is safe for her to donate. Though, the father is becoming increasingly more hostile about it and really doesn't want his baby to do it much longer.
Then, something crazy happens. An anonymous donor, Donor Y, donates sleep and a nightmare prion is spreading like wildfire through recipients of his sleep. The nightmares are so bad that these people become "elective insomniacs" because they would rather stay awake and slowly die than sleep and see this dream. Donor Y's dreams are being reported all over the world and so far, only Baby A's donations seem to help. You can see how tricky this situation is.
This book was short but I feel like it was a bit rushed at times. Karen Russell's writing is really nice though, you can tell she did a lot of scientific research, and I can't wait to read more from her. Swamplandia! has been on my to-read list for forever now.
I'm going to predict right now that this will be picked up and turned into a movie. It has that quality about it and everyone loves pandemic film, right? Hollywood does.