Review: Lay Me Down to Sleep by James Cox

Beneath the ice and crystal lies the future of mankind. The entire population was sent to sleep in hibernation chambers underground so that the earth could re-grow. When Glenton wakes, it’s to a shaking chamber and screams. He’s saved by Aric, and together they rescue all those they can as the chambers suffocate the remaining humans. Was it a horrible mistake or a cruel government? Six survivors now try to endure beneath the ice in what remains of the hibernation center, waiting for the day they can return to the surface. Glenton is among them, troubled by his strange feelings for Aric. When their home loses power, they must go to sleep once more. The future of our species depends on their waking. Will they make it to the surface?

Over at BMBR, when we first decided to approach James Cox to be our Author of the Month, I had already chosen this book as one I would read and review for the blog. I really like a good sci-fi story and the level of sci-fi James uses it perfect for me. The world building is interesting but not overdone. I don’t feel like I need a map, a search light and to pack a lunch to just figure out the dynamics. At the same time the environment created isn’t patronizing, it strikes a good balance. Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep was no exception.

The year is 2999 and Earth is beyond repair. The toxins have become too much and in order to ensure the survival of the planet a plan is formed to wipe out all life on earth and regrow a new, untainted healthy environment via the Cultivator. The plan is basically to enlist a man made “great flood a la Noah” in the form of fire. All of the most important people of earth will spend the time it takes for the Cultivator to do its job orbiting the earth while the world’s workers will spend the regrowth period underground in crystal hibernation chambers.

Glenton was 13 when his father tucked him into the hibernation chamber. He was scared, but having his father hold his small hands while they say their goodnight prayer, Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, gives Glenton comfort as the hibernation chamber does its job and puts him into the strange stage of stasis that will hold him until it is safe for them all to go back to the surface.

Sci-fi being what it is, things go awry one year into the hibernation phase. After a rather rude awakening from hibernation, Glenton is saved by an older boy, Aric. Aric, Glenton and a handful of other young people are the only survivors left in their chamber. They had been left to die when the system failed and Aric had been their savior. They turned into a very resourceful group, depending on one another for survival and comfort as they became a family. Glenton knew his father couldn’t have left him behind, but he also has no idea what happened to him. All he has is faith that he will be reunited with this father again one day.

There are a couple of pretty strong themes in this book that really add to the emotions that Glenton, Aric and the rest have got to be feeling, trapped underground with no real idea of what is to come. The ideas of faith and the need for comfort. If you have haven’t read the Q&A that James was so kind to share with us, I highly recommend you take a minute or two to read it. I’m so glad I did before I read this book. Knowing a little backstory and inspiration can really give a reader a whole new level of connection with the story and its characters. This is one of those times.

Really, all these people have is faith, faith in a high power that will watch out for them and help them survive. It’s human nature and helps keep them going. Circumstances are hardly comfortable, or even that hopeful, but faith that they will survive and see the sky, the grass, feel the breeze and the sun again gets them through some cold nights and hard working days. They need to clear the path to the exit, it’s blocked with rubble and ice and the work to clear it is hard and slow going.

The offering of comfort, manifested through touch, through the comfort of the simple act of holding the hand of someone you love was strong in this story. When Glenton was younger, it was holding his father’s hand and as he grew he would hold the hand of his best friend Rawn. She and Glenton were as close as two people could be, but Glenton couldn’t really understand why he didn’t feel for her what he thought he should. All they knew was what they remembered from their childhood before, so as they grew and Glenton realized he felt for Aric what he thought he should have felt for Rawn, he became so confused and so scared that if the others found out, they would make him an outcast. When your whole world boils down to a handful of people, that thought is terrifying. But, when Aric takes Glenton's hand in his, Glenton knows that Aric is the one for him, no question.

Aric knows what happened to Glenton’s father and that knowledge keeps him from letting himself get completely attached to Glenton. He feels guilty and responsible. This and Glenton’s fears are really the extent of any angst. That is something I like about sci-fi and apocalyptic stories, the BS angst is kept to a minimum as there is survival that needs to be worried about, so characters have a tendency to cut to the chase, I like and appreciate that especially if the balance is done well. It is done well here and Glenton gets the closure he needs about his father while getting another level of appreciation for Aric.

As the weeks passed and they came closer to their time to escape the underground chamber, Glenton discovers that Aric feels the same for him. The tension between these two was great and the signature James Cox heat was there, but it was different. The times when these two could get together was both hot and sweet, but what really got to me too was the intimate moment of a hand being held and whispers of love in the dark. That was a swoon-worthy moment right there. So, as I said, the heat was there but it also had the added bonus of true love, hope and faith.

A highly recommended read.

No comments:

Post a Comment