Sleepers II by Jacqueline Druga
Warning! If you have not yet read Sleepers #1, skip this review and come back later.
In the final chapter of Sleepers #1, the survivors are forcibly split into two groups. One group goes to the ARC in the former NORAD headquarters, and another group is left behind on a hospital rooftop. Of course, this left me yelling, “Don’t split the party!” at my eReader, a fairly good indication that I was completely engaged in the story.
Sleepers II opens with the helicopter ride, with Alex, Danny, and Randy carrying Phoenix to the ARC. Though they don’t fully trust the people there, the doctrines state that Phoenix is the hope of mankind, so they make the decision to go. The hope is that a vaccine can be created to protect survivors from the sleeper virus.
This event forces the narrative to split, switching between Mera, Alex, and Randy’s point of view. Mera is a strong character with a strong voice, as is Alex, so it wasn’t difficult to follow their stories. While Mera, Jessie, and Beck fight to survive near Denver, Alex, Danny, and Randy take Phoenix and attempt to thwart the future doctrine that the Phoenix child is critically injured before it reaches the safety of Project Savior.
Alex was one of my favorite characters from the first book. I was glad of the chance to see the world from his eyes, and his actions and his emotional arc were a good counterpoint to Mera’s. Alex is a natural leader and it shows. I also wanted to read more from Randy’s perspective. As a time-traveler with knowledge from the future, his story is doled out in small doses, just enough to give readers a glimpse of what is going on behind the scenes.
There’s no respite from the victims of the sleeper virus. No matter where they go, the parties are discovered and pursued by the relentless, but perhaps not entirely mindless, hordes. Oh yes, it’s going to get frighteningly gruesome. But if you wanted flowers and rainbows, you wouldn’t be reading horror now, would you?
The standard caution for any post-apocalyptic book applies here. Characters you like are going to die. Sometimes, others that everyone gave up for dead survive despite impossible odds. When secondary characters are introduced, some are obvious “red shirts” and I knew better than to get attached. Some are characters who will be critical to future events, and their survival is guaranteed. But when a new character is given depth and emotional weight, and you start to hope they will make it, their loss is crushing.
The author does a good job in keeping us emotionally connected to the characters, new and old. One of the points that puzzled me from the first book — the question of doctrines and time travel — was a cleverly planted lure for events in this second book. Well played, Ms. Druga.
It bothered me that Mera Stevens doesn’t seem to have learned anything. You’d think that spending months running from sleepers would give her a bit more situational awareness. Her refusal to listen or pay attention to others and her childish temper tantrums make it tough for me to like her. Her only saving grace is her protective nature towards her children, whether they are hers by birth or not.
I recommend that you read this series in order. Because of the chain of events, hints and plot points that span over several novels, this book will not stand alone. You have to have the whole story for everything to make sense. The Sleepers series is currently up to book 4, and I’m looking forward to the next adventure.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of the review. This review was originally published at www.bookie-monster.com