Sleeping Beauties is the first published collaboration between father and son. Whatever the co-writing process might have been, it produced a seamless, scary and satisfying story ... In Sleeping Beauties, the dynamics of male-female relationships are at the core of the disaster. What the men left behind must do is interpret what Aurora means. What caused the outbreak? What happens to the women while they sleep? Will they ever return? And what will happen if they do? ... Sleeping Beauties has myriad subplots, all reverberating with that theme of gender relationships, and a large cast — the character list at the beginning of the book is 3 ½ pages long. But the Kings keep all that machinery running fast and smooth, creating an all-too-credible picture of a world engulfed by a disaster for which absolutely no one is prepared ... Despite its 702 pages, I rushed through it headlong. Next time you're looking for a way to distract yourself from a potentially apocalyptic hurricane, try a totally apocalyptic novel. It worked for me.
...a bulging, colourful epic; a super-sized happy meal, liberally salted with supporting characters and garnished with splashes of arterial ketchup ... In framing small-town America as the microcosm of a single-sex planet, Sleeping Beauties could be the Y-chromosome sibling to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland, in which three explorers gatecrash a feminist utopia. But devotees of King Sr will find more familiar echoes here, too ... Sleeping Beauties is at its most satisfying during its breakneck opening half, as the crisis takes hold, before the allegorical baggage piles up. One of King Sr’s great strengths as a writer is his mastery of the milieu of small-town USA, his uncanny ability to ventriloquise its inhabitants and keep his myriad pieces in play. His tale only falters when it doubles down on its premise, belatedly introducing a parallel Dooling, a shadow world for the sleeping women that is 'so much better than the old man-driven one' – although even here it manages to redeem itself. The denouement is ambiguous, elegantly open-ended. Assuming the two tribes can be reconciled, one is left with the sense that they are destined to remain at a distance ... perhaps it’s no accident that this epic feels so vital and fresh. Sleeping Beauties comes fuelled by a youthful vigour that King Sr hasn’t shown us in years.
Like Under the Dome, Sleeping Beauties is straightforwardly written. There are no long, dreamy passages in italics here. That’s the good news; the less happy news is that this co-authored book is sleepy in its own right. It too has a lot of characters, but very few of them spring to life, and many of them seem repetitive. Without speculating on what the father-son writing process was like, it feels as though some kind of politesse kept this 700-page book from being usefully tightened ... Sleeping Beauties will inevitably wind up on the screen somehow. Whoever adapts it will have to beef up the characters and deflect attention from the nonthrilling main theme ... What you may well come away thinking is: meh. For a book about resetting gender stereotypes, this one clings surprisingly tightly to them. Women are healers (though there are some tough customers here, thanks to the cast of law enforcers and prison inmates); men are either warriors or jerks who deserve to die. Everyone who survives this story is a little nicer by the time it’s over, but the basics still apply. And for a book that separates the sexes, the sudden impossibility of heterosexual sex goes strangely unnoticed ... Stephen King didn’t become Stephen King by waffling this way.
...a first novel from the father-son duo of Stephen King and Owen King, the story of a world in panic quickly converges with the travails of a tiny mountain town to craft a fast-paced thriller ... Ambitious and sympathetic, Sleeping Beauties is both a love letter to women everywhere and an incisive look at what drives men to violence, neatly wrapped in enough fantasy elements to soften the more caustic edges of the commentary ... The Kings have created deeply textured women to populate their book ...book is considerate and kind toward women, but perhaps what’s needed isn’t the voices of fictional women from well-intentioned men; rather, it’s the cultural, financial, and emotional support for actual women, and the real-world action that entails.
King fans who crack open Sleeping Beauties may be disappointed. The book lacks the page-turning intensity found in so many of his classics. Father and son started with an intriguing premise: What if men and women were separated into two different worlds? Would the men freak out? Would the women create a kinder, gentler society? They're existential questions that would seem to lend themselves to a 700-page book, but the novel's answers to both don't seem nuanced enough ... [Evie] is certainly the most intriguing character, but her existence is explained away as supernatural. She's been sent to Earth, we're told, but by whom? And why? The Kings let those questions linger and instead focus on the men who want to kill Evie versus the men who want to save her ... King fans who enjoy his blunt language and vivid gore will find lots to like...In the end, though, the novel feels like it wanted to say something really meaningful about gender relations and settles instead for, 'Can't we all just get along?'
Although Sleeping Beauties offers glimpses of trouble around the world — riots in Washington, a downed jet, etc. — the story stays focused on Dooling, particularly the women’s penitentiary where prisoners are quickly succumbing to the Aurora Flu. But before these inmates go gentle into that gooey night, we get to know several of them: lonely souls, abused girlfriends, unstable killers with hearts of gold. It’s a very special edition of 'Orange Is the New Black Death' ... The story is flecked with the gossamer wings of fairy tales that fall awkwardly in this contemporary setting. More than 70 characters rage and snore through these pages. They’re all listed at the front of the book, a feature that has the unintentional effect of making the cast feel even more bewildering ... Stephen King, the author of more than 50 best-selling novels, and Owen, whose debut novel, Double Feature appeared in 2013, can be wonderful writers, but this yawning collaboration doesn’t bring out the best in either of them. The pacing in the first 300 pages is deadly — and not in a good way.
... long, long novel that places a vast cast of characters at the mercy of a speculative premise: a sleeping sickness that knocks all the women of the world out for the count, leaving the men to fend for themselves ... It’s Under the Dome part deux, in other words, except that this time, the Constant Writer has roped one of his sons in on the fun ...as tough as it is to tell where one King ends and the other begins, Sleeping Beauties is such a slog that it hardly matters ... Neither of this door-stopper of a novel’s authors have ever been much for subtlety, but in this instance, a little thought about something other than plot may have gone a long way ...a tedious read, full of gratuitous shooting and shouting but empty in every other sense. It’s such a big book that you’d be forgiven for thinking there’s a lot going on, but there’s not.
Sleeping Beauties, King’s new collaboration with his son Owen, again uses the small-town trope to good effect ...a sublime bit of Kingian dialogue, with the optimal mix of the creepy, the nauseating and the scientifically unlikely ...point of view bounces around among a large cast of characters beyond the Norcross household, and some folks are more pleasant company than others. The villains are suitably awful and reasonably multidimensional ...female characters aren’t all saints, but the Kings make it abundantly clear which is the more violent and destructive sex ...novel provides enough action, thrills and humor to keep readers burning the midnight oil, but some may feel a bit let down by the book’s familiar air. There’s comfort to be found in tales such as this, but one might wish for more risk taking ...Sleeping Beauties hits many expected beats but never ventures far into the unpredictable ...a well-tooled horror thriller, a worthy venture from a productive family business.
...a triumph of two voices blending wonderfully to take us into a dark and all-too-real dream ... Sleeping Beauties traffics in some very potent themes, from the obvious question of what an all-male society would devolve into to less obvious concerns like the politics of a women’s prison and the evolution of sexuality during the aging process. None of these issues, though, are dealt with cheaply or crudely. The book wields the best attributes of each author—Stephen’s ability to ratchet up tension, Owen’s wit and their joint gifts for character detail—with a deftness that makes it feel like the work of a single hybrid imagination. In the authors’ hands, the themes and characters of Sleeping Beauties become powerful fictional case studies, holding the mirror up to our own powder keg of a society in unforgettable and often unnerving ways.
Sleeping Beauties, the new tome by Stephen King and his son, Owen King, is the story of an epic, biblical day of reckoning. It is as apocryphal as the flood in Genesis and the fire of the End Times ...sentences come direct from the front pages of our times ...bares the inimitable King storyteller’s imprint ... a blunt, riotous reckoning of the sins and crimes of Adam’s sons against the daughters of Eve. Seven hundred and one pages of spellbinding story, and not a single page flags ...a rich feast of the imagination. And a timely tale. It casts the craziness of our world in a stark, lacerating light.
Following the renewed interest in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and an increasing climate of wolf-whistle politics, this examination of gender stereotypes, systems of oppression, and pervasive misogyny within American culture feels especially timely ... The large cast of characters allows for a multitude of narrative perspectives—from both the affected women and the men they’ve left behind. Violent, subversive, and compulsively readable. The true horror of this father-son-penned novel derives more from its unflinchingly realistic depiction of hatred and violence against women than from the supernatural elements.”
In a kind of untold Greek tragedy meets Deliverance meets—well, bits of Mr. Mercedes and The Shawshank Redemption, perhaps—King and King, father and son, take their time putting all the pieces into play: brutish men, resourceful women who’ve had quite enough, alcohol, and always a subtle sociological subtext, in this case of rural poverty and dreams sure to be dashed. But forget the fancy stuff. The meat of the story is a whirlwind of patented King-ian mayhem ... A blood-splattered pleasure. It’s hard to say what the deeper message of the book is save that life goes on despite the intercession of supernatural weirdnesses—or, as one woman says, 'I guess I really must not be dead, because I’m starving.'”