by Stephen King, Owen King
Narrator: Marin Ireland
Length: 25 hours and 20 minutes
Genres: Horror, Fantasy
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
In this spectacular father/son collaboration, Stephen King and Owen King tell the highest of high-stakes stories: what might happen if women disappeared from the world of men?
In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place... The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied? Or is she a demon who must be slain? Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is a wildly provocative, gloriously absorbing father/son collaboration between Stephen King and Owen King.
Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King was one of my most anticipated fall audio listens, and I am shocked and sad to say, I was not impressed. To be fair, I went into this cold, as I do all of King’s books and didn’t read the synopsis. It is indeed a world where men have to learn to deal without women. If this weren’t King, I probably would have DNFed this around the 50% mark.
My first thoughts on Goodreads after I finished, “I love King but this….it was just ok. It was a giant can of soup filled with characters I didn’t care about, political messages, and dolts.”
- I loved the Appalachian town setting with its drug problems and women’s penitentiary. It’s the perfect setting for weird shit to happen.
- I found the premise of the cocoons creepy and fascinating. When the female population falls asleep a fine- spider-like web cocoons them. They are breathing and have regular pulse rates, but if you awaken them, they go insane. Crazy, ax-wielding, freaks with a twist when it comes to their own offspring. Freaktastic right?
- I loved what unfolded as women tried to stay awake, and the town scrambled to figure out what the heck was happening. Classic King goodness, similar to the Dome.
- A unique woman named Evie doesn’t seem to be affected. She was a mystery and everything about her from the way she acted and spoke had my attention.
- King has this gift for making you believe events as they unfold. Mystery, suspense, horror and even a little paranormal woo-woo found their way into Sleeping Beauties.
- Marin Ireland delivered an excellent narration from pacing to character voices, and she enhanced the overall tale pulling me in even as I began to lose interest.
- Too many characters and villains with no one, in particular, to root for. While I don’t often snuggle up to King’s characters, I usually can tell the good from the bad, and find redeeming qualities in them. Not so here I just didn’t care about any of them. With so many Povs, I struggled in matching up couples and making connections.
- The book is full of political messages aimed at man’s role in controlling and oppressing women. Topics mentioned are particularly relevant to today’s current events, however, in my opinion, Sleeping Beauties efforts failed miserably. The authors explored what would happen in a world without women and offered an idea of a world without men. While I didn’t necessarily disagree with the overall message, the delivery was over the top and ultimately failed. I prefer a more subtle approach that makes one think and question. That presents all sides of a relevant issue in a show not tell manner. Some of the conversations, concepts, and actions had me rolling my eyes.
- I love big books, and I cannot lie! However, I genuinely feel this needed to be trimmed and edited. A lot of threads held little value, and the story dragged at times.
- I needed more suspense, action-scenes, and freaky goodness. I cannot even believe I am saying this. I was bored. Usually, with King, I cry it’s not nearly long enough. When Sleeping Beauties ended after twenty-five+hours, I cried, Hallelujah.
While Sleeping Beauties ended up being a sleeper for me, I did enjoy the premise and will buy King’s next audiobook sight unseen. What can I say? I love Stephen King.
[bctt tweet=”Sadly, Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King was a disappointment. #audio ” username=”kimbacaffeinate”]
Interesting! My boss said the other day that it would have been a neat twist if, when their bodies were burned on ‘our’ side – they wouldn’t die in the new world, but be stuck there forever – their choice to return taken away, their portal closed. Neat alternative.
SPOILER ALERTS IN THIS COMMENT. I found this by googling “Sleeping Beauties Stephen King disappointing”. Because I own everything he’s ever written, and love his stuff – even the co-authored novels, but this one was really disappointing. I agree with everything you said – too many characters, no real redeeming qualities to any of them (or anyone to root for) very biased, finding the worst in both sexes (I’m female – and while I love some of his writing addressing violence against women – Rose Madder, etc – I found this one pretty heavy-handed). But my biggest problem with it was (SPOILER ALERT) the huge holes in the plot: for example – WHY did time go faster in Our Place? Did the women age in relation? But the biggest one unaddressed was – what REAL choice did the women have? With their cocooned bodies on the other side, they would still live in fear, and at the whim, of the very men they were choosing to leave behind. Was there any doubt that if they did not return, they left themselves utterly vulnerable? If the men grew angry or despondent that they lived in a women-less world, what would stop them from burning all the cocoons, effectively wiping out the New World? Why would the men left behind care enough to safeguard all those bodies so that the women lived on, in another world? Absolutely made zero sense at all.
All valid questions, in my mind (Spoiler Alert: I am not sure why, but I believed their corporal bodies would die on this side)
oh man, that uh, that message about women. i dont think i’ll be reading it any time soon., not that i would’ve any way because the copy i haveunder my bed is my dads christmas present
That stinks! I would be totally bitter listening that many hours to a book and then not even caring that much for it. You needed to put that shit on double time. lol
Bwahaha….i kept waiting for it to completely grab me.
I haven’t tried this book. I think I’m going to skip it. I have too many other King books that I need to get caught up on. I do agree that King normally gives you someone to root for in his books. I would have a hard time getting through one that was missing that aspect. Great review.
Yeah, it just didn’t work for me and I am still saddened by it.
That’s a shame, it was next on my reading list!
Maybe you will enjoy it, Jo. Even if you told me it was pure bullshit, I would still have to try..but maybe as a library read.
I’m going to assume the Appalachians are in America…? *runs off to Google* Yup. That’s America. (Lol.)
Maybe what with the world *makes flappy hand motion* being what it is… they felt subtlety wasn’t the way to go!
Cocoons? *shudders* Weird!
Maybe, but damn it was like being hit with a shovel and some of it was crass.
The cocoons sounds deliciously creepy, so that’s a big letdown that the book was a disappointment for you. I love King as well, but he is very wordy. I finished It last month, and it took me four weeks to get through 45 hrs on audio.
I know what you mean about being thankful when a book is over. Sometimes, it’s just that way! I can’t do a DNF. I feel compelled to finish, no matter how bad.
Hope your next read is better!
I learned the art of DNFing in my late 40’s lol, but this is King. I couldn’t do it.
Oh no! I was really excited about this book. I’m a huge King fan, so needless to say, I’m still going to pick this one up. Guess I’ll have to take the good with the bad, huh? But it just seems to be a book you should have in your collection because of the collaboration with his son. Awwww man……
Yep, I would still read it as well, I think I have read everything he has written.
That’s a bummer you didn’t enjoy this more. I don’t read much Stephen King since I’m a chicken and don’t read much horror. My mom, however, is a huge Stephen King fan and she didn’t enjoy this one much either for many of the same reasons you mentioned.
Well at least I am not alone Suzanne 🙂
I am not seeing a lot of good reviews for this one, which is terrifying as it is currently sitting on my living room table, where it has been since release day. I know I’ll read it because it’s King but I’m kind of leery. Maybe a collaboration wasn’t the best idea.
I hope your experience is better than mine.
I heard about the Political message issue. I think that is one reason I didn’t buy it, because a lot of people on amazon had an issue with it. But I am curious, so still waiting for it to become available at a library near me. Not sure the political will bother me. I am a bit disappointed that it’s not as scary tho. Considering he has a way of weaving political messages into his books for years now. I think this is the first time people felt it looked too upfront.
The library is a good call, and its King so bits are worthy 🙂 I completely agree, he does pepper them with messages but this just did not work for me.
Aleen @ Lampshade Reader
Love this review! I’m sorry that you weren’t over the moon about it. Although, it sounds like a really interesting read, I wouldn’t be too excited about the political message. Like you said, I would be expecting more scary-ness from a Stephen King book.
It isn’t even that I mind them and would have loved some thought-provoking turns but this particular story didn’t work for me.
Wow that sounds fab, but yeah too many folks stirring the plot can make for a murky soupy read. I’m thinking about this one Kim it didn’t hit my creep out zone like some of his do and I’m interested in seeing how the collaboration works.
Thanks for sharing
Enjoy Debbie. I am still saddened that I didn’t love it.
Ricki Jill Treleaven
Thanks for your detailed review. I think I’ll pass on this one. Although the premise is interesting, I’m sick of everything being politicized.
Agreed. Thanks Ricki
Carole @ Carole's Random Life in Books
Oh no! I just bought a hardcover copy of this one. I don’t read King very often but I thought I would change that. I might have picked the wrong book. Too bad this didn’t work for you.
Well for your sake I hope you enjoy it. I love his books, and for the past 4 years have listened to them which has been until now delightful.
Great review, Kimberly. You did a fab job in describing what you liked and what you didn’t and I appreciate how you laid it out. It’s too bad this one wasn’t a “winner” since you’re such a fan of King. I think it’s almost worse when it’s a bad read from a favorite author. At least the narration of good. 🙂
Right. It killed me that I wasn’t loving it, and as I said any other author I would have walked away and not finished but I do love his writing.
I don’t read his books, but I still admire the impact of his writing. I can imagine the let down of actually being bored by it. Glad you’re keeping the faith and anticipating the next release.
Well, I’ve been reading him since the 80’s and love his work, so it was pretty easy.
Out of all the stories Stephen King has written, my favorite is still “Salem’s Lot.” Thanks for the post.
Oh, I love that one, I also love a short he did the Lawnmower Man.
It’s a bit of a shocker that you didn’t care for this one, Kim. I only say that b/c it’s the almighty Stephen King *sticks tongue out* . Not that I don’t like Stephen King—who couldn’t resist his amazing story telling. Interesting that it’s when he brought his son on board that the story became lack luster.
Yeah, I am a bit bummed as I hoped it would be epic.
I just tried to watch his new movie on Netflix. It was really awful. Grotesque and the characters so reprehensible. I just couldn’t.
Oh my, I haven’t watched it yet.
No one to root for, whaaat
At least no one I cared for.
I’m wondering if maybe reading it instead of listening might make for a better experience? Probably wouldn’t though. Still on the fence about this one, but it’s the King’s. I’m sure I’ll see it somewhere and grab it:)
Not sure, but I have listened to most of his books without issue.
Jenea's Book Obsession
I am really sad now. I was just telling my husband that I was going to go and buy this over the weekend, I have been wanting it for so long. Your cons seem to out was the pros though. I don’t do all that well with the whole man dominating the women thing. I might have to put this on the back burner for a little while. *sighs*
Library first Jenea.
Oh no! I was pretty excited about this. I guess I should just skip it. I know what you mean about King being an auto buy sight unseen. I feel he can do no wrong but every author has at least one book that just can’t stand on its own. Thanks for sharing your honest opinion!
There is always that one…thank Karen. Maybe library first before adding the novel to your bookshelf.
This is a bummer but you are not the first person to say this. I know a young man who DNFed it and he loves King like you do.
Thank you for that Stormi.
I love Stephen King and was looking forward to reading this one. However, after reading the disappointing reviews including yours, I am having second thoughts.
I was worried this was all me, but after reading reviews from other die-hard fans, I see it wasn’t. Ah, well I will till grab his next one.
Tanya @ Girl Plus Books
Oh my. I haven’t read anything by King in a long while but when I did I was always totally hooked and could hardly stop reading. His writing is so rich and so detailed that I would get totally immersed in the story. But this… wow. The premise is plenty creepy (cocoons? Ew!) and I’m intrigued by Evie but it sounds like the message got lost in the delivery. And I’ve usually enjoyed the big, meaty size of King’s books but 25 hours of audio? Egads! Sorry this one just didn’t work for you, Kimberly.
Yep, he is an author whose works I will re-read.
Your aren’t the first person I have seen that was disappointed. Unfortunately, I think a lot of big name authors are putting out books, just to have something out there. I no longer grab one of their books just because their name is on it. 🙁
I know Owens tends to write books with messages, and think this could have been so much more. All the elements were there.
Tyler H. Jolley
I’m so burned to hear it wasn’t awesome. In the last five years I’ve become an avid King Reader, I’m finishing Rose Madder right now. I was really looking forward to Sleeping Beauties. But, right now everything is so political. When I read, I want to escape. I think I’ll skip this one. Thanks for the even review, Kimba.
Very valid point Tyler. Ooo and Rose Madder is the perfect read for Halloween.
I saw Stephen and Owen on Good Morning America a little while ago as they talked about this book, and they have the coolest relationship. They have such witty conversations, that if I didn’t know who they were, would have thought they were comedy writers. Like you, I’m a fan, and looked forward to adding this to the TBR pile, but I have to admit that I enjoy early Stephen King a little more. Great review! Hugs…
I’ve read or listened to everything King has been involved in, and cannot remember ever being this disappointed.
don’t know, i find that the book mirrors human behaviour quite well. Despite the multiple characters it was not hard to remember who is who… except towards the end.
I didn’t mind it that much, but I am not a follower of the King works
I am glad you enjoyed it Ailyn, perhaps my difficulty lied with it not holding my attention.
yeah took me a few days to finish it too