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A Long, Long Sleep
Anna Sheehan
Gollancz, 352 pages

A Long, Long Sleep
Anna Sheehan
Anna Sheehan was born on the shores of Lake Michigan. She is a devoted follower of Diana Wynne Jones and Douglas Adams. She studied acting and Shakespeare with the Young Shakespeare Players of Madison, Wisconsin. Despite collecting a technical degree in commercial goldsmithing, she pursued writing. She lives with her family on a tiny ranch in rural Oregon.

Anna Sheehan Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Katherine Petersen

I'm not sure if my words can do justice to this amazing debut novel, easily one of the best books I've read so far in 2011. Tagged as a YA dystopian tale, resembling the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, it's really much more. It's a character-driven, heart-wrenching story in which a girl wakes up to a whole new world and must either adjust or die. And it's a story of love: romantic love, the love of a parent for a child, the love of friendship and most important of all, love for oneself.

Rosalinda Fitzroy, Rose, wakes up from 62 years of chemically-induced stasis in a forgotten subbasement to a kiss. Normally, her mother wakes her up from stasis to a champagne brunch and a warm welcome, so her awakening is as jarring as the world which has self-destructed and put itself back together in the time she's been gone. She may have lived for over 100 years, but she's still a 16-year-old girl, frightened, knowing no one and recognizing little from the time she left behind. Technology has changed. Her parents and her first love, Xavier, are long dead.

Rose tries to assimilate, but she spends more time buried in her artwork, not fitting in with anyone except Bren, the boy who woke her up and Otto, an alien/human experiment created by the multi-million dollar company, UNICorp, started by her powerful parents and to which she is the heir apparent to the displeasure of many company executives.

Anna Sheehan uses flashbacks skillfully, slowly revealing Rose's past, the use of stasis by her parents and the budding romance with Xavier, her next-door neighbor. But someone is trying to kill Rose, and in order to survive, she must figure out who it is as well as battle and understand her past.

Few books affect me to the point of recommending them to everyone I know and coming back to me long after the last page has been turned. A Long, Long Sleep, however with its haunting beauty and emotional devastation is an exception. While it takes place in an unknown future, the issues it covers are no less pertinent to the present. Use of power, child abuse, manipulation and fighting for survival go on today as much as they have in the past and will in the future. Fans of young adult fantasy will appreciate Sheehan's work as much as I do. While the book can stand on its own, I've heard rumors of a sequel. Done right, it could work, but I hope it's not a sequel just to continue a story that isn't there to tell.

I read a lot of young adult books, and this one is near the top of the list along with Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins and Unearthly by Cynthia Hand. Keep an eye on Anna Sheehan; she's definitely a talent to watch.

Copyright © 2011 Katherine Petersen

Katherine Petersen started reading as a young child and hasn't stopped. She still thinks she can read all the books she wants, but might, at some point, realize the impossibility of this mission. While she enjoys other genres, she thrives on fantasy, science fiction and mysteries.

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