Cover Image: Sleepwalk

Sleepwalk

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I always look forward to a book by Dan Chaon, he is a brilliant writer.  His writing, once again, is brilliant and filled with wonderful characters.  A story of dual time lines between past and present. 
A psychological thriller that is a bit dark at times and hard to read due to some abuse and other graphic nature.  It is a strangely odd yet interesting cat and mouse kind of read.
Was this review helpful?
Neat story with an unreliable narrator talking to other characters who are also unreliable.  It ranges all over the country and and there are good twists, and surprises. Not a lot of action, but the story flows well.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher, Henry Holt & Company, for the chance to read this one in advance.

I love the way that this entire book - narrative, setting, and characters - is off-kilter and not completely knowable without a full investment in it.

You only very gradually get to know what kind of a world the main character - who goes by any number of aliases - is living in. You get the sense very early on that it's not in the present but that it's not so very far in the very as to be completely speculative and science fiction-y. It's post-apocalyptic in a not entirely apocalyptic way. It just keeps you guessing throughout just how different things are, occasionally blithely dropping in a comment about a beloved national monument no longer existing.

The main character is similarly ambiguous. Is he a good guy? Is he a bad guy? Does it matter because he's such an engaging and likeable individual. It really plays with your standards and expectations - how could you possibly sympathize or even empathize with this character, especially the further you progress in the book and the more you know that he's done. 

The cast of supporting characters in fantastic, including the animal ones - his dog Flip and a smart chimp - with some fleshed out more than others but all well balanced.

Is he living in a massive conspiracy theory or is the conspiracy theory his reality? 

It's funny, it's tragic, it's right on the nose with some of the politics, religion, technology, and cultural battles raging currently and plays out a potential future based on those.

Did I love it? Right on ...
Was this review helpful?
A very solid and enjoyable tale. This one kept me engaged, and it's well constructed. Chaon is an experienced author and shows his skill here. Recommended to thriller fans.

I really appreciate the free ARC for review!!
Was this review helpful?
I first discovered Chaon ages ago, most likely due to his immediately proximity to the ever so excellent Chabon on the library shelves. Two very different authors, but both absolutely terrific. I loved Chaon’s books and binged out. And was very excited to get my grabby mitts on his latest through Netgalley. 
      The thing is, thought I knew what to expect and Chaon totally subverted all my expectations in the most awesome way. Instead of the heavyhitting slice of life dramas, he pivoted to produce this thoroughly excellent kinda sorta apocalyptic paranoid off grid adventure.
       Mind you, there’s still plenty of drama. The main plot is technically dramatic at its base…a lone traveler (not just through the winding roads, but through life itself) finds out he might have a daughter and that she might be just one of the many offspring he’s got from his days of donating sperm.
       But that’s too reductive of a description, too insufficient for the sheer wealth and splendor of the tapestry Chaon has woven with this book. There’s his spellbinding world building of the eerily plausible near future America, there’s the fascinating cast of characters that his multi aliased protagonist has to deal with, the past he is driving away from with every mile, the increasingly unreasonable and dangerous present, the uncertain future. The conspiracies, the twists, the ever so awesome doggo companion. 
      It’s such a terrifically texturized book, never a flat map, always a topographical one, of all of Will’s travels on and off road. And it’s such a pleasure to read.
      There’s still all the emotional realism and engaging immediacy one might have come to associate with the author, but it’s playing out on a much larger, more intricately composed field. It’s a great book, it’s got all the things one looks for in a great book, outside even of the peculiar yet undeiniable multilayered charm of its protagonist. A perfectly immersive reading experience. The book you don’t want to put down, think about it when you have to, can’t wait to get back to. You know, that one.
       I make my way through a lot of books. Tons, really. And Sleepwalk stood out easily as the best book I’ve had the pleasure to read in ages. Grab your bags, your best off grid gear, you're going to want to take this road trip. Recommended. Thanks Netgalley.
Was this review helpful?
Sleepwalk is a very very interesting story about an oblivious older mercenary set in a near dystopian-ish future as he takes a long road trip searching for his newly learnt about daughter.  His daughter claims to be trying to protect him, while the people who are using him as their mercenary are trying to convince him that he’s having a psychotic break and she’s not real.  

I really liked our main character. His abrupt honesty even when he’s doing something inherently dishonest is jarring, but funny.

I initially really liked this story! I was hooked from the first page, but unfortunately, that started to wane once I got half-way through.  A lot of the book is him just traveling and thinking. I do feel like there were scenes that should have been cut out just to keep the reader interested and not bored.  

There are a LOT of content warnings for this book, so please be aware going in.  

tw: homocide, graphic depictions of violence, recreational drug use, drug abuse, incest, black market infant selling, technically legal age gap but still not appropriate, references to animal death, homophobic language, bestiality 

18+
Was this review helpful?
I really loved mostly everything about this book. The storytelling was superb, the characters interesting, the writing easy to read. There were some uncomfortable passages dealing with animal abuse and such, they read gritty but real and packed a punch. Overall this is quite the madcap adventure story. Reminded me a bit of CD Payne’s Youth In Revolt only with a 50 year old main character. 

Honestly I would love to see this adapted as a miniseries or something. A highly recommended read, but it may not be to everyone’s tastes.
Was this review helpful?
A real page-turner. Dan Chaon is a reliable author who has produced several excellent thriller-esque novels with a literary bent. This is one of the best of his that I have read.
Was this review helpful?
Sleepwalk: A Novel by Dan Chaon
Release date: April 5, 2022
Review date: August 28, 2021
Henry Holt and Company

“…the heart takes what joy it can, doesn’t it?”

I love this book. The main character, Will Bear (one of his many aliases), is a lovable, fifty-year-old mercenary traveling around the country in his beloved camper, Guiding Star, moving from shady job to shady job (“…a traveling agent on retainer”) in the dystopian future. His only companion is a rescue Pitbull named Flip.
Will has a bucket of throw-away burner phones with numbers no one should have. But, one starts to ring. It is a young girl (about 20 years old) who claims that he is her sperm donor “father.” How she got these telephone numbers is a mystery, but they begin to strike up conversations at all times of the night and day. Her name is Cammie and she tells him he has 167 other diplings (children of a sperm donor, egg donor, and a rented uterus). Will thinks she may be crazy, but he keeps talking to her when she calls. Will’s long-time friend, Experanza, suggests that he kill the girl because she may not be who she says she is and she may be dangerous to his life off the grid; which is essential to his work. But, as the miles go by, the talks become more frequent, more personal, and Will begins to look forward to them. He starts to believe that he could be her father; after all he made plenty of donations at the sperm bank back in the day.

Will meets with the boss of the organization, Value Standard Enterprises, Tim Ribbons and Mr. Ribbins explains that they believe Will is being hacked by some AI avatar. Ribbons says, “They have these AIs now that can analyze your vocabulary and mood and tone and translate it into an algorithm and then reflect it back to you, so you feel a subconscious connection to them.” Ribbons suggests that he visit the hackers in Chicago and kill the girl. So, now what does he do? Stay loyal to Value Standard Enterprises? Find out if the girl is really his daughter? Hideout somewhere? It’s a conundrum. 

The book is fast-paced and filled with quirky characters, which I love. Bear is a fully developed character; we learn of his flaws, his greatness, and his potential. Wigginton (2015) wrote that “The sleepwalker represented the hidden potential within the self for either greatness or deviance, or, more mundanely, simply a fuller existence than consciousness has an awareness of.”* I feel this quote describes Bear to a T. Read it, you’ll love it.

Right on.

*Wigginton, Rebecca (2015).Twilight States: Sleepwalking, Liminal Consciousness, and Sensational Selfhood in Victorian Literature and Culture. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished.) 

I received a free e-copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This review will be posted on NetGalley and Goodreads. #NetGalley #sleepwalk #danchaon #henryholt #goodreads @lindasversion on Instagram
Was this review helpful?
What I enjoyed about this book was how well the story flowed. The author did a great job at being descriptive, yet there were points of humor during conversations and thoughts between characters.  I really got a great feel for the narrators thoughts, feelings, ideas, and in everything he sees and is going through. There’s nothing lacking in the way Dan Choan can tell a story! The only con is that this particular story just wasn’t one that I would choose to read again. Not due to the writing but more due to the type of story it was. At times it felt kinda trippy and just not my kind of book.
Was this review helpful?
Book Review: Sleepwalk
Author: Dan Chaon
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Review Date: August 23, 2021

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

From the blurb:

‘A high speed and darkly comic road trip through a near future American with a big hearted mercenary, from beloved and acclaimed novelist Dan Chaon

Sleepwalk’s hero, Will Bear, is a man with so many aliases that he simply thinks of himself as the Barely Blur. At fifty years old, he’s been living off the grid for over half his life. He’s never had a real job, never paid taxes, never been in a committed relationship. A good-natured henchman with a complicated and lonely past and a passion for LSD microdosing, he spends his time hopscotching across state lines in his beloved camper van, running sometimes shady often dangerous errands for a powerful and ruthless operation he’s never troubled himself to learn too much about. He has lots of connections, but no true ties. His longest relationships are with an old rescue dog that has post-traumatic stress, and a childhood friend as deeply entrenched in the underworld as he is, who, lately, he’s less and less sure he can trust. 

Out of the blue, one of Will's many burner phones heralds a call from a twenty-year-old woman claiming to be his biological daughter. She says she’s the product of one of his long-ago sperm donations; he’s half certain she’s AI. She needs his help. She’s entrenched in a widespread and nefarious plot involving Will’s employers, and for Will to continue to have any contact with her increasingly fuzzes the line between the people he is working for and the people he’s running from. 

With his signature blend of haunting emotional realism and fast-paced intrigue, Dan Chaon populates his fractured America with characters who ring all too true. Gazing both back to the past and forward to an inevitable-enough-seeming future, Sleepwalk examines where we’ve been and where we’re going and the connections that bind us, no matter how far we travel to dodge them or how cleverly we hide.
———-
One the one hand, I found this book hard to read. I couldn’t pull all the pieces together and wasn’t clear what the book was really about. 

On the other hand, I did read the whole thing, was drawn to reading it even though there was no discernible plot. 

I’d give it 3 stars, and recommend it only if you can get it at the library; I wouldn’t waste any money on buying it. 

I’ve read other books by Dan Chaon, so was looking forward to reading Sleepwalk. However, it was disappointing, and I’m ready to move on to something better. 

Thank you to Henry Holt & Company for giving me early access to this book, and best of luck to Dan Chaon. 

This review will be posted on NetGalley and Goodreads. 

#netgalley #sleepwalk #danchaon #henryholt
Was this review helpful?
Darkly comical, unique and thrilling, Sleepwalk by Dan Charon uses an amazing protagonist to spin a perfectly different tale of a father/daughter relationship, but only this time the father is an eclectic Mercenary/Fixer.
Was this review helpful?
Once the monkey slips a mickey to the protagonist and the latter makes a Steve McQueen mini-great-escape on a Segway, Dan Chaon’s “Sleepwalk” definitively puts the proverbial pedal to the metal, lighting out for where the buses don’t run. And that is no criticism; on the contrary, this heartwarming satirical thriller set in a near-future America brims over with memorable moments as first-person narrator Will Bear (one of many aliases) relates his compelling story. True to his name, Will is a bear of a man, a very laidback 50-year-old mercenary who travels the country in his RV named “Guiding Star” with his rescue pit bull Flip, doing odd jobs for a shadowy corporation that range from meddling with a local school board election to, well, murder. Will’s life is on autopilot—driving where he’s told, downing his steadying morning micro-dose of LSD, responding to most people’s remarks with his standard noncommittal “right on,” and occasionally crying for “emotional hygiene reasons.” But his sleepwalking world is upended when he receives a mysterious call from a young woman claiming to be his sperm donor daughter. In his earlier novels—“You Remind Me of Me” (2004), “Await Your Reply” (2009), and “Ill Will” (2017)—Chaon interwove multiple narratives that featured penetrating character studies, psychological suspense, and literary thriller elements. Despite its semi-otherworldly nature—climate change, pandemics, martial law, info-mining giant robot drones that walk the highways (creating a vibe that falls somewhere between nanny state and Orwell)—“Sleepwalk” presents a more streamlined tale, alternating between Will’s present (mis)adventures and his deeply troubled past with a darkly comic abusive mother. “Sleepwalk” is weird and wonderful, pulling readers into its madcap conspiracy plot with a touching father-daughter relationship that will force Will out of his comfort zone and into becoming an active participant in his own life. And who can resist a scene featuring a plush toy rabbit and a farmer named McGregor? Highly recommended. (Thanks to NetGalley for providing a digital review copy)
Was this review helpful?
Unique and interesting story. The main character was sympathetic, but the story was dark. Still loved it.
Was this review helpful?
Had to go “outside the box” to read/enjoy/understand this book since that’s where the main character lived in his own special world. Good book if your looking for something a little different.
Was this review helpful?
This was a quite interesting read.  I had a hard time deciding whether to give this book a one star or a five star rating.  A very different read from the books I usually read and review.  Different, interesting, at times somewhat bizarre.  Five won out.  Read it and enjoy.
Was this review helpful?