There’s so much to love about this book, from its engaging and accessible suspense storyline to the way Barber infuses an on-trend psychological thriller with inventive and original storytelling tools ... just plain fun to read. It has that addictive quality that authors like Ruth Ware and Clare Mackintosh have mastered—it’s compulsively readable, and I can practically guarantee fans of current psychological thrillers will find this book unputdownable ... isn’t necessarily as dark a read as some of its peers—I wouldn’t classify it as particularly chilling, and there is minimal violence in this book, but I certainly don't consider that a flaw of the novel ... Accessible, engaging, and not too dark or violent, this psychological suspense novel will hook readers looking for a binge-worthy beach read.
Barber weaves a twisty tale that will grip readers as they follow Josie confronting a past she finally cannot escape. Highly recommended for fans of the podcast Serial and authors such as Ruth Ware and Paula Hawkins.
A quandary: There is an absolutely thrilling dilemma baked into Are You Sleeping, a debut thriller from Kathleen Barber. However, not only can I not discuss it without revealing too much — I'm not even sure if it's meant to be a dilemma, or if it's an oversight by the author and her editors. If the former, it could have used more framing; if the latter, someone needs several lashes with a red pencil for overlooking things ... Back to that problem of framing: All of this novel could use more of it ... their characters, like Poppy's, and Ellen's, and all the rest, are one-dimensional ... What the characters lack in depth the book makes up for in pace. Barber cuts in and out of past and present with expert precision, perhaps evidence of her background as a bankruptcy attorney ... that dilemma. If it's deliberate, it's one of the most subtle sleights of hand I've seen in a novel of suspense, and proves that there are some places inside the human mind even social media can't reach.
Crafted with podcast transcripts and authentically formatted Twitter and Reddit feeds, which were often humorous and provided revealing glimpses into the social media storm between chapters, Barber explores the idea of cultural intrusion into legal, and what could be considered private, matters ... This conclusion makes the reader wonder if the book’s statement on this sort of curious and gossip-hungry behavior in our society is that it’s in fact beneficial despite being hurtful, prying and insensitive ... As a writer, I appreciated the critical decisions Barber made in pacing important reveals and parsing out details that keep the reader questioning and turning pages. She moves the story forward with breadcrumb clues and suppositions until the very end ... dives into the complexities of relationships, and the value of love and connection, especially in the face of tragedy and despair. It is the story of family and sisterhood, trust and loyalty, truth, lies and perceptions.
... well-written dialogue ... An excellent examination of what it must be like to be caught up in a media frenzy. Not as suspenseful as thrillers from Gillian Flynn and Ruth Ware, but this is absorbing reading for those who can’t get enough of flawed-but-likable narrators.
The most relevant and interesting aspect of this novel is its exploration of the power of the podcast. Debut novelist Barber acknowledges that she was inspired by Serial, and her novel asks the reader to reflect on his or her own complicity when the people involved in a real-life crime story are dragged back into the limelight years later by that kind of journalism, and the impact it can have on their lives. Beyond this, however, Barber’s mystery is somewhat lackluster, and the characters lack true depth ... An interesting effort to critique society in this age of unfettered access to other people's stories.