The ocean from my dream returned in the form of a roaring surf, which blocked all sound and stopped my breath. Sixty years. Mom and Daddy, dead. Asa, dead. Xavier… my Xavier.
I think I screamed. The last thing I felt as the shadows overcame my vision completely was Brendan’s strong arms catching me as I fell (p 5).
This is a review of an advance reader copy provided by the publisher, Candlewick Press, via NetGalley.
In this science fiction re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty, sixteen-year-old Rosalinda Fitzroy awakes from a sixty-two year sleep when Brendan finds her stass tube in the basement of his apartment complex. His attempt at mouth-to-mouth, fearing Rose is dead, is something of a kiss.
Rose’s status as heiress to the world’s largest company, UniCorp, causes some distress for the current President, Reggie Guillory. Upon her 18th birthday, Rose will own the company but until then, UniCorp owns her.
Readers are introduced to this new world along side Rose. Her parents, Mark and Jacqueline, died in a helicopter crash while Rose was still in stasis. Her tube was misplaced or lost. She was assumed dead. After so long in stasis, Rose is suffering from fatigue and will be weak for some time.
The Earth has undergone a transformation since her sleep began. The Dark Times wiped out a large portion of the population. Other planets and moons have been colonized. Everything Rose once knew has changed. Everyone she knew and loved is dead. She cannot bear to learn what has happened to Xander.
At first, Rose appears weak, physically and as a character, until, as her past is revealed, a horrible truth becomes evident. She has been the victim of a most cruel form of abuse and neglect.
Like Phoebe North, I was at first anticipating a limp, pandering science fiction novel starring a vanilla female character and an irresistible male hero. Sheenan almost looses me here, but she will lure in weaker critics. Then she succeeds in surprising both.
Prior to her long stasis, Rose was in love with Xander. A complicated love, as Rose began seven years his senior but, because of intermittent and prolonged stasis sleeps throughout her childhood the two eventually pass their teen years as peers, best friends, and finally lovers. We learn about this past in tender, heartbreaking flashbacks.
Once out of stasis, Rose’s new life begins. As she sorts out this new world, and her place in it – including a new school – she quickly forms an attachment to the handsome Brendon. From awakening her to befriending her at school, Brendan has been the only caring person since she emerged from her cocoon. When she declares her feelings, the novel really takes a turn. Bren’s reaction is so far from expected:
“Coit!” Bren swore. “Look. Rose. Oh, burn it.” He glanced up at the sky as if looking for strength. “I’m sorry if I gave you the wrong impression, okay? I wasn’t trying to lead you on. I — I think this is probably my own fault, and there’s probably some kind of… cultural… thing… going on. It’s just that my granddad told me to look after you. I mean, he and Guillory are worried about the company, okay? They just told me to make sure you weren’t… I don’t know. ‘Led astray’ was, I think, the phrase Guillory used (p 136).
In the meanwhile, intermittent passages relate that someone or something is tracking the newly awakened Rose. This proves to be a rather ineffective assassin and Rose’s escapes are a little laughable.
My complaints also run parallel to Phoebe’s. The word substituting (mostly for contemporary curse words) Sheenan uses doesn’t really add too much to the story. I would have rather seen a change in culture reflected in turn of phrases rather than ‘I Comm’ substituting for ‘I know.’
Also, like Phoebe, I found Otto, a blue-toned alien/human hybrid who can transmit thoughts via touch and who befriends Rose, to be one of the most interesting characters (though I kept picturing a Na’vi from James Cameron’s Avatar!).
The relationship between Rose and her parents is the most interesting though, trumping even her romantic relationship with Xander. Here, Sheenan succeeds in creating two of most terrifying and abusive parents in YA literature. Rose is not a vanilla character, she is absolutely damaged. She survives more than one awakening in this novel. To see her, independent and beginning to gain confidence, completes her metamorphoses.
Ultimately, I was surprised to find this a layered story that left me in tears by its oh-so-satisfying end (neither too much nor too little ‘Hollywood’). A sequel may be planned but I find this a satisfying read on its own.
Read other reviews: GalleySmith, I’ll Read Anything Once, Presenting Lenore
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