By Adrian Barnes
Like all the best novels, Nod develops from a simple premise. Imagine that the vast majority of people around the world suddenly stopped being able to sleep. No deep sleep, no cat-naps and no snoozing at all. It's only a matter of time before society collapses. How many times have we had a bad nights sleep and felt tired the following day, or even a series of poor nights (any parents will understand this).
The human body needs sleep, it needs to switch off from all the myraid sensual inputs the world throws at our bodies. Even brief sleep deprevation is a big danger to ourselves and others, lowering concentration, making us clumsy and effecting our judgement. Some of the worlds major disasters have thought to have been influenced by a lack of sleep including Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill. It can cause huge health problems and ultimately if continued for long enough will eventually kill you.
After just a few days the hallucinations begin and then people can begin to have waking dreams, entering into a form of psychosis and become paranoid. By the end of a week people will lose their orientation in time and space, have severe muscle fatigue and be one big sandwich short of a picnic. Eventually after a few weeks if you don't sucumb to an accident your body will eventually give up.
A world-wide sleep deprevation event is a leveller, almost everyone in the same boat regardless of gender, race, wealth or religion. The ever so thin veneer of civility is stripped away and the world of Nod becomes seperated into those that don't sleep and a select few people who still do. Those lucky few seem to share the same dream and are considered outsiders by "the awakened". A larger proportion of children seem to sleep but those that do are changed and stop talking, becoming a feral creature and shum the company of adults.
We take this journey through such a nightmare post-apocalypse world through the eyes of John, who is one of the rare individuals who still sleeps. It's a clever, insightful journey into the human condition. The prose is sharp and intelligent and easy to follow while the story is engaging in it's depection of society unravelling which focuses not so much on the macroscopic but offering a much more a personal view. A small corner of a Canadian city and a few individuals — the protagonist John, his sleep deprived girlfriend and others he meets along the way. The tone and feel of the book is wonderfully dark and worrysome, a growing feeling of horror as the story progresses.
Nod is a critique on humanity, our relationships and duality that is the fragility and resilience of the mind, an impressive, thoughtful, clever book.
Written on 4th April 2016 by Ant .