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Black Moon [Hardcover]

Kenneth Calhoun
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 9.09 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

6 Mar 2014

".a black moon had risen, a sphere of sleeplessness that pulled at the tides of blood-and invisible explanation for the madness welling inside."

The world has stopped sleeping. Restless nights have grown into days of panic, delirium and, eventually, desperation. But few and far between, sleepers can still be found - a gift they quickly learn to hide. For those still with the ability to dream are about to enter a waking nightmare.

Matt Biggs is one of the few sleepers. His wife Carolyn however, no stranger to insomnia, is on the very brink of exhaustion. After six restless days and nights, Biggs wakes to find her gone. He stumbles out of the house in search of her to find a world awash with pandemonium, a rapidly collapsing reality. Sleep, it seems, is now the rarest and most precious commodity. Money can't buy it, no drug can touch it, and there are those who would kill to have it.

Kenneth Calhoun's dark, hallucinatory and brilliantly realised debut confronts one of our deepest needs - and fears - with style, vision and a very human heart.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hogarth (6 Mar 2014)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1781090149
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781090145
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Extraordinary... Horribly, terribly compelling" (Alison Flood Sunday Times)

"A gripping read... This is a book that will get you thinking - and thanking your lucky stars for a good night's sleep... I loved it" (Jenny Green Sun)

"Calhoun's prose is razor sharp, concise yet hauntingly descriptive... I wouldn't be surprised if Black Moon turns out to be the best debut novel of 2014" (Jim Dempsey Bookmunch)

"The novel is a heart-stopping quest" (Guardian David Barnett)

"Calhoun vividly depicts the societal collapse that results when people are no longer able to differentiate dreaming from reality... Skilled and polished" (James Lovegrove Financial Times)

Book Description

Imagine a world without sleep. A world driven to the brink of exhaustion. A waking nightmare.

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Customer Reviews

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3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Black Moon 18 April 2014
By Keen Reader TOP 100 REVIEWER
If we didn’t sleep, what would we become? In this book, the author makes a study of a group of disparate people in a world where some (but not all) people are no longer able to sleep. First there is frustration, then disorientation, then fury at those who can still find peace in sleep. Those who sleep must hide it from those who do not. What would humanity become if this happened? We follow the paths of a number of different people – Biggs, whose wife Carolyn can’t sleep; Chase, whose friend Jordan thinks there’s a way to make money from people’s insomnia; Lila, escaping from her insomniac parents; Felicia, working with a group of researchers to try to find a cure to the insomnia.

I had high hopes for this book and they were nearly realised; but about two-thirds of the way through the book the narrative seemed to go off into a tailspin – weird dreams, seemingly unrelated narrative, mystic foretelling and eerie premonitions. I’m still not quite sure where the story ended up going; I read the book from first page to last, but the end of the story didn’t somehow seem related to the beginning at all. There was the germ of a great idea in here, but I don’t think it met its potential – a pity.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Apocalypse by insomnia 3 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic read.
Overall, the story paces extremely well and the narrative structure fits with the break down of time as society succumbs to sleeplessness.
What Calhoun really captures are the results of prolonged sleep deprivation.
The break down of language, logic and the inevitable confusion between dreams and reality as the two overlap in the minds of the afflicted.
At times darkly funny and at times harrowing and tragic, the book stayed with me after I'd finished reading.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great storyline but poor ending 24 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Good storyline but skipped over some major events in the story and poor ending. Some events left to the imagination and I would of preferred the authors description.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.5 out of 5 stars  59 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Starts off as a 'totally not a zombie novel' zombie novel, then it gets weird... 30 April 2014
By Silea - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The first half of this book is what i term a 'totally not a zombie novel' zombie novel. There's some mysterious affliction turning people into something other than themselves, something dangerous. No one knows the cause, people are trying to stop it, the world falls into disrepair as the majority of the population becomes useless (or dead).

But they're not zombies, no. They're still alive, they just can't sleep, and go crazy (yes, people really go crazy if deprived of sleep for long enough). Why they're prone to fits of violent rage when they see someone sleeping is never quite explained.

But then about halfway through, it turns into some sort of badly disguised literary novel, plumbing the characters' past for trauma, showing how it guides their current actions, with the whole not-zombies thing as just another background feature.

The writing was pretty good, but that plotting was odd. At times we follow through the mundanity of characters' lives, their meals and driving directions, while other times we skip weeks of their lives from one sighting to the next.

And in the end, there's no payoff. One character is just abandoned by the author and never heard from again. Another only gets a single throw-away sentence to explain their fate. Maybe it's a literary fiction thing, but there's no tie-up, no conclusion, just an ending.

In all, an interesting premise was twisted into a faux-zombie-novel, then twisted again into an exploration of the human soul, neither of which was a satisfying read.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This One Will Keep You Up at Night! 31 Jan 2014
By Mary Lins - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If you don’t sleep, you will go crazy and then die. This is a biological fact.

What if something apocalyptic happens in the future and suddenly 90% of the population can no longer sleep? What if you are one of the few who CAN? How quickly would society crumble? In “Black Moon”, by Kenneth Calhoun, we are given this scenario. Calhoun here re-imagines the Zombie Apocalypse trope, only instead of turning into the un-dead, the “Insomniacs” turn into similarly lurching, insane, murderous beings, their wrath and hatred turned toward the few “Sleepers” who must now hide to sleep lest they be discovered and killed, even by their loved ones. I found this so much more interesting and horrifying than a Zombie story! For instance, there is a chillingly memorable chapter about a young husband and wife and their infant - all unable to sleep - that will stay with me for some time.

It’s a fascinating premise and Calhoun carries it through beautifully. We are introduced to several “Sleeper” characters in several settings as they navigate this nightmarish (sorry for the pun!) new world. Calhoun has a very effective way of pulling the reader into the story by often starting chapters where a particular character is in the midst of some intense action and in the ensuing pages describes how he/she got into that situation. For example, one chapter starts with one of the characters frantically driving a truck to get away from Insomniacs, while naked, with numerous sheep in the bed of the truck! Who wouldn’t keep reading given that scenario?

Fans of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novels, and Peter Heller’s “The Dog Stars”, will certainly enjoy this book as much as I did.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Like a half remembered dream. 3 April 2014
By hana - Published on
As enticed as I was by the concept (and I'm sure many of you feel just as excited by it) I was underwhelmed.

Development of both male and female characters is rail thin (one thinks other women are sluts, another is characterized simply by being compared to another character). There's an alt-ish character (he has gauged ears) an everyman, a fat everyman, some distant parental figures and so on. No one in this book is given much to work with

But a novel like this isn't about the characters, it's about the chaos. There are burst of quality but overall very little plotting and murky world-building. The origin of the sleeplessness is the subject of hypothesis and conspiracy, but none of this lives up to the promise of the concept and like the author's constant use of metaphor, quickly becomes an irritation.

On a personal note, I was once on a sleep med with paradoxical effect, meaning it made it impossible for me to sleep, for two weeks.

I doubt many people have experienced something like that, but given that experience I really felt the author has failed to capture the way in which people unravel under prolonged sleep depravation and more importantly the growing dread of the inevitable consequences: madness, dementia, and finally death.

The book does succeed in having something of a dream like quality but, like a dream, the details are often foggy and difficult to remember. I certainly didn't hate it and may recommend the book to the right person but ultimately I feel very blank about the whole affair.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Could Have Been Great 2 May 2014
By C. Irish - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The premise of Black Moon is brilliant. I was really excited to read this book as it sounded like a fresh apocalyptic novel. People gone crazy due to lack of sleep is a pretty good idea when it comes to a doomed society-something different. The first part of this book did have me excited and talking about the novel. I think the way the author described the ravishing of the world as the cause of unleashing something crazy in the atmosphere that caused a sort of insomniac virus that was turning people against one another. Some people are unaffected by this sickness and pretend to be unable to sleep because the mere act of seeing someone asleep turns them into insane savages.

The beginning of the voyage with our survivors describing their surroundings and thinking about the coming end of society was good. The following of our heroes however, because disjointed and somewhat boring to me. What started off with a bang somewhere mid-through fizzled for me and the book didn't have its earlier fire. I didn't find myself caring about what happened to those who were searching for their families and the story for me, fell apart.

I thought the first half or so was excellent but the deeper the novel went, the more focus it lost and this affected me as a reader.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I can't get to sleep, I think about the implications 30 May 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
This book reads like a semi-lucid dream. In our dreams, details, words, and conversations seem to ALMOST make sense in passing, but once examined, verge on nonsense. If you've heard someone talk in their sleep, you know what I mean. Much of the dialogue in Black Moon reads the same way. ("Was someone named Carolyn here in the last few days?" "She was here but very smallishly here.")

The neat trick of the book is that, in a world where almost everyone has stopped sleeping, reality itself becomes a weird, waking dream / nightmare. Unfortunately, like our own dreams, the book loses what little cohesion it started with, and once it's over, you can barely remember anything that happened.
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