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VINE VOICEon 22 February 2004
This was the first book I read by Stephen King and it got me hooked. I received it as a birthday gift and I must admit that I was a little disappointed. I thought it wasn't my kind of book. How wrong I was!
I started reading it eventually out of sheer boredom and quickly forgot all my preconceptions. It is a brilliant tale of Ralph, an elderly gent who has a little trouble sleeping after his wife dies. As he sits at his window in the dark of night, he sees things that aren't quite right. Little bald headed men in white doctors coats. He also begins seeing auras around people, or balloon strings as he refers to them.
This is a story of magnific proportions. Ralph and his loyal friend Lois begin a journey of discovery and terror. The Crimson King shows his ugly face once again too. Along the way there is tragedy and romance. This is the first book to ever have made me cry and it's a horror by King!!!
I recommend this to any true King fan and to anyone else who fancies something a bit different. I mean there aren't that many books where the hero is an old guy is there?! Point made I think!
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on 18 October 2010
I've read a lot of King's books and I have to say that this is not his best work. However it is still a capturing story. At times it can be slow and a lot of concentration is needed to work out what is actually going on. But it all comes together in the end! I found the concept of the story extremely intresting and the charecters loveable. Which made me disappointed with the ending! It's a definiate read!
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on 21 January 2002
...While the story takes an age to get going, it is however a pleasure to read. The reason King is so spell-binding is because of the attention to detail, the fact that he can pull you into a story with the slightest, most mundane anecdote or foible of a person or place. In his more ambitious novels, he loses this skill as small town does not play well in a 'block-busting' atmosphere. When King sticks to small town, small people and insignificant happenings that the rest of the world are not likely to ever find out about, he is at his mesmerizing best. Ralph Roberts is a believable portrayal of an old man who has insomnia because of his wife's death - or so he believes. The basic premise changes into something quite unbelievable, which is fine - it is fiction, but I think King goes a little bit too far towards the end. Ralph starts to see auras when he cannot get any sleep. And then he starts to see beings that only he can see that seem to be doing something to peoples' auras before they die.
It goes at a cracking pace and reaffirmed my faith in Mr King as I realised that he could still write like he used to, maybe better. Little touches that have become commonplace are references to his other books, in this case The Dark Tower series. For some reason, the person Ralph had to save from death is connected in some way to the fantasy series, which I find odd as I am a stalwart in the belief that fantasy should stay in the realms of its own dubious perameters. When it starts to become connected to the 'real' world it usually suffers from being too derivative and, frankly starts to get boring. This said, 'Insomnia' is still a great book for Stephen King fans, although I do not know if any non-believers or non-constant-readers will be converted.
My faith in Mr King is now well and truly steadfast and I am on to 'Bag of Bones' which, interestingly, has Ralph Roberts doing a small cameo. You wont be disappointed.
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on 1 August 2000
A great storyline, that get's better and better right 'til the end. Ralph Roberts makes an unlikely hero, along with his partner in crime Lois Chasse as they battle evil in this supernatural fantasy ride. You'll laugh, cry and be kept on the very edge of your seat as the little bald doctor goes about his dirty deed taking the lives of dogs to old Bill McGovern. This is thoroughly entertaining, and I find it one of SKs very best.
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on 6 March 2003
I read 'Bag of Bones' before 'Insomnia' and I noted a character named Ralph Roberts who informs Mike Noonan (central character in Bones)that he looks tired, perhaps he's suffering from insomnia, and Ralph Roberts knows all about that.
Much as I expected, Ralph Roberts turns out to be the hero of 'Insomnia', surely one of King's most unusual and unpredicatble novels.
King himself admits (in the forward to 'The Green Mile') that he experiences bouts of insomnia, thereby explaining the incredible insight he shows into the nature of the condition; any erstwhile insomniac will be able to relate to Ralph's experiences in the early part of 'Insomnia' in the same way that it's easier to understand the nature of a pain once you have experienced it yourself.
In some ways Ralph Roberts isn't a typical Stephen King character; for one thing he's much older than King's usual lead characters and he's neither a writer or a teacher. In some ways this is a welcome break from the pattern, although King does manage to retain other patterns which his 'constant readers' will find both pleasing and gratifying.
The story is set in Derry, surely the strangest town this side of Castle Rock and there are plently of references to other events in the history of that troubled place which should be familiar to those who have read 'It' (Mike Hanlon is still the librarian), 'Bag of Bones' or 'Dreamcatcher'. There's also a nod to the Dark Towers and intelligent suggestions concerning the layering of reality.
This is a surprising, compelling and somehow inspiring book. Ralph's insomnia is a key to far, far stranger things. It is scary in the right places, amusing in the right places and thought provoking in the right places.
Incidentally, if you do read it, and I ernestly suggest you do, it adds an extra dimension to the proceedings if you reflect afterwards that, in mythology, Atropos (one of the three fates)was considered 'The Inevitable'.
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Ralph Roberts is one of the Derry Old Crocks. He's recently lost his wife and now he's suffering from acute insomnia. When you're sat at your front window at 3 in the morning, you can see some wierd stuff going on in the streets. But don't forget that this is Derry... "weird" barely scratches the surface.

I dunno - perhaps I'm suffering from an excess of Stephen King or something. I //have// read about ten of his novels, back-to-back so maybe it's unsurprising that it's starting to drag a little. This is "classic King" and that may be part of the problem - after a while aspects of his writing begin to get rather samey. The same stock characters (they never smile ruefully or sardonically, do they? They always "grin") the same folksy charm, the same underlying supernatural menace and the same excessive padding. God the padding! This isn't a long book by King's standards - not in the least - but by anyone else's it is certainly "well appointed" and it takes King four or five pages to say what many other authors would convey in a paragraph; by the last quarter of "Insomnia" I was aching for him to shut up with the waffle already and get on with the story. Coming to it fresh, that was often a positive thing and his novels are deeply absorbing in their detail, making this is great holiday reading. But after having soldiered through half a shelf-full of King previously, it can be a bit of a grind.

Don't get me wrong - by "classic King" I really do mean that his books are well written, enjoyable, and - yes - absorbing. His characters are sympathetic and the familiar Derry setting makes this a comfortable read. The plot, as always, is a bit off-the-wall if you're not used to his ideas (little bald doctors stealing the Derry residents' psychic auras, forsooth) but there's a nice meshing with previous (and later) Derry novels.

I think I will have to take a short break from King to recharge my batteries as there's quite a few more of his novels that I have yet to read or re-read. For any committed King fan, this is well recommended. If you're new to his novels, it'll make interesting reading. But whoever you are, moderate doses are just what the little bald doctors ordered
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on 27 April 2001
Either people have missed the point or they don't know King, all his masterpieces have been long and descriptive. I point to The Stand and IT as prime examples, and Insomnia is no different. The Dark Tower references are for King's "constant reader", and this novel is a viable and absorbing tale in its own right. I'd recommend it to anyone.
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on 4 August 2007
I've only read about seven or eight of Stephen King's titles but I must say that this has been my favourite, and definitely up there in my top ten of all the books I've read. I love the concept, it's very otherworldly while still close to home and heart and I enjoyed the characters' company immensely.

I'm somewhat confused about a couple of the previous reviews; it has been said that the main character is unbelievable due to the fact that he is seventy and has insomnia, and has energy and youth despite this. Firstly, the insomnia affected him in such a way that it did become beneficial; he did become more youthful and he did gain energy and this was a big part of the plot, it wasn't an accident... so I don't really understand what is not to get.

The reviews may be referring to the character before he started losing sleep? Well, I happen to know a few fellas of seventy plus, and they have more energy and vibrancy than most of the twenty-five year-olds I know. They may have a good few decades behind them but they still know how to hold their own and charm a young lady like myself.

What I'm trying to say is, those who consider the character unrealistic due to his energy need to get out more and have a few beers with our wonderful pensioners. This book is easily read, loveable and unusual and I will always continue to recommend it.
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on 23 September 1999
This book is a very in depth account and using mature aged people really drives away the teenage horror that provides the bases of many horror books. It may not be the scariest but the plot is a real mindboggler.
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on 2 September 2006
Firstly I do agree that this book does start a little slow but when it does get moving it is truely mesmerising. What many reviewers failed to mention was the strong links to the Dark Tower series which become apparent toward the end of the novel. The character Patrick is fundamental to the last Dark Tower novel and this finishes up his story nicely. If you are a fan of those books then this is well worth a read, as well as being a fine piece of writing in itself.

Not King's best work but still wirth while all the same
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