Book Review – ‘Nod’ by Adrian Barnes

A new twist on the (zombie) apocalypse.

nod-book-review-pic-01-by-casey-carlisleGenre: Y/A, Dystopian, Science Fiction

No. of pages: 206

From Goodreads:

Dawn breaks over Vancouver and no one in the world has slept the night before, or almost no one. A few people, perhaps one in ten thousand, can still sleep, and they’ve all shared the same golden dream. 

After six days of absolute sleep deprivation, psychosis will set in. After four weeks, the body will die. In the interim, panic ensues and a bizarre new world arises in which those previously on the fringes of society take the lead. 

Paul, a writer, continues to sleep while his partner Tanya disintegrates before his eyes, and the new world swallows the old one whole.


I picked this up because I’d heard it was a new take on a zombie-esque dystopian. I was not disappointed. It’s certainly a wild ride.

Nod’ is probably one of the more realistic depictions about the fall of the human race due to the sudden infection of a virus which leave most people no longer being able to sleep. Apart from a handful of survivors. The rest of society slowly goes insane under the throws of sleep deprivation. Our protagonist, Paul, writes down his experiences for this novel. Being compelled, as Paul is a writer and wants to leave it for someone, something… afterward.

I found it hard to connect with this novel. The writing style is deliciously descriptive, but the turn of phrase is so poetic that I kept having to re-read lines to garner true meaning from the author. Appreciation for this narrative comes in spades – but better swallowed in small chunks. With that said, there is a lot of action and the pacing is continually ramped up to drive the story forward. It’s about survival. There is no quest, no way out. Just getting through the next ten seconds, and the next ten after that, and so forth… all the while dealing with, or avoiding people descending into madness.

nod-book-review-pic-03-by-casey-carlisleSuch a unique concept. I found it fascinating.

There is a masculinity about the writing that kept me from truly connecting with the narrative, though the bleakness Barnes paints of the emerging world is garishly compelling.

It’s hard to discuss character development and plot when the message of this story is more philosophical. But like being unable to drag your eyes off a car wreck on the side of the highway as you drive slowly by – it’s oddly compelling.

Charles, one of the stories main antagonists is indicative of the messed-up world, both before and after the event. He embodies the fantastical world of Nod, the subject of Pauls half written novel he’d managed to steal a copy of. This book is a real mind bender, taking you towards part of the insanity itself.

If maybe there was a stronger female presence in the narrative, something to soften the sharp edges of the dystopian landscape, offer a place to juxtapose the desperate need to sleep, to survive, I would have enjoyed it more. Plus the narrative stylings of Barnes, though masterful, does not lead to an easy light read. This is a thinking man’s book. A lover of literature and philosophy and imagination. And as toffy as it sounds I’d only recommend this to the more high-brow reader. It’s not like the YA dystopians, it’s literal, bleak, and cerebral. But I’m glad I got to have the experience and share Paul’s world.

I guessed the ending – the tone of the narrative suggested that it wouldn’t end any other way, but the events that happened along the way… well, a book about mad people running around, it’s a bill of a rollercoaster. Zip and zag. Like I said, a lot of action.

Overall feeling: Gah! What a shizstorm! It’s all happening!




© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

6 thoughts on “Book Review – ‘Nod’ by Adrian Barnes

  1. Eternal Gypsy says:

    It just sounds odd! I had to go back and reread the post because at first I was like, “Wait, so he’s asleep and still writing? Is this like an out-of-body, Sleeping Beauty type thing?” Haha!

    • femaleinferno says:

      It’s not like your YA dystopian, more wrapped around the philosophy of being and perception, similar to classic sci-fi by Philip K Dick. It’s got all the elements of a typical dystopian, but the tone is much different. If was interesting and a great departure from my regular reads, not a book I’d rave about, but worth the experience… since you love YA and sci-fi, you may get a kick out of it.

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