Sleeping Beauties: Chapters 18-20

[Sleeping Beauties Content Note: Trans Exclusion and Erasure, Misogyny, Violence Against Women]

Sleeping Beauties Recap: When this book first popped up on my radar, I expressed some concerns about the content on Twitter. This week, I purchased the book and read through it. As I read, I live-tweeted my thoughts on Twitter. This is a compilation and expansion of my tweets. The live-read will be spread out over multiple posts.

Sleeping Beauties, Part One: The Auld Triangle. Chapter 18-20

Okay. I have had food and a nice yell and now I have a little cheesecake cup with milk. Diving back in.

Maura's plan to kill Eve falters when Eve asks if Maura wants to join her sleeping lover. She does, but she has insomnia. Eve tells Maura to kiss her (Eve) and when she does the cocoon sets in instantly. I'm coming to see why the men view her as a demon.

The witch-woman pressed her face against the bars, her eyes never leaving Maura’s. “Kiss me quick. While there’s still time.”

Here's an example of how we treat whiteness as a "default": Tiana is the black princess, but Aurora is never "the white sleeping princess". This is just a general all-purpose reminder to describe your white characters as white, otherwise white becomes an assumable default. This isn't meant to dig at King, just here we are learning.

Tiana, the black Disney princess, danced across the side of the bin in her glittering green dress, followed by a parade of magical animals.

*scream-laughter* I don't blame King for this one--the literature is just really really wrong.

tablespoons of blood in a woman’s normal menstrual period, for example, no more than a cup even in a heavy one.

The doctor is stoned, so perhaps it's reasonable that he's like this, but I still think it's weird that NO ONE thinks "bio terror".

“Why.” Flickinger clapped once. “That’s it. Everything in nature has a purpose. What is the purpose of this? What is the cocoon trying to do?”

Like. We all know about Resident Evil, right? Seven+ games, seven films? And that's just RE; the zombie bio weapon movies on Netflix are legion. Why is no one attributing this to a hostile government or terrorist force? Also, I know Frank is made of Bad Decisions, but I would not let a stoned plastic surgeon examine my daughter.

Jared flips through TV channels and I'm reminded of Fred Clark's point that, post-Rapture, footage of children would be triggering. Even this passage is tonally-dissonant; Jared would "hate to meet her on a normal day" instead of desperate to know if she's immune.

I would really like to read a novel that examines real post-Rapture economies. Like, take this situation. How does TV change? At the very least, you're not going to run Tampax adverts anymore, right? Think about the sex work opportunities: men paid to pretend to be women for the straight men who now have no women to straight at. (I'm just going to continue to assume that every trans person was Raptured to heaven before Eve showed up and we're out of this mess. But our doctors are now out of work, so there's another post-Rapture economy dip for you.)

Whole industries are built around women consumers--they're now so much dust in the wind. I need an economist to write this novel. You do have new industries, of course. You'll need counselors, for one thing. And childcare workers, since there are no more stay-at-home-moms. Imagine the new programming slate: 101 basics teaching men how to self-care during prime time. There'd need to be an emergency 24/7 infant care channel, as some of these fathers have never changed a diaper in their life.

Incidentally, there's been zero mention of what happens to pregnant women, by the way. And apparently the illness sets up its own life support; this was glossed over very quickly. If the women don't need food or water indefinitely, we're now solidly in the realm of magic. Like, at that point I think the doctors and scientists just have to quit?

"at the same time only interested in the XX chromosome"

There is no "XX chromosome" omg omg omg help help send help. Also, this is a plastic surgeon whose tools consist of nail trimmers and a microscope how does he know this is chromosomal at all????

[TW] Wow, okay, we take a grim turn when Officer Terry finds a dead rapist--one of the teenagers from earlier. Terry is happy to find that the women kill wold-be rapists, but then realize that men are going to want to kill the cocooned women. He knows men have been stockpiling guns and wet dreaming about killing for years, and that Terry won't be able to keep his wife safe. That answers our rape concerns: the women kill their attackers. But I assume the next step is restraints while they're docile. Like, yay that the authors thought through this contingency, but it feels like a bit of a punt. The women are still vulnerable.

My emotional response to the men in this novel is interesting: I don't like them but I think I'm not supposed to. [Note: Nope, I was supposed to like them all along. I didn't.]  I'm frustrated by how poorly they're reacting to the apocalypse and then realize I'm being unfair, but it's really poor though. One of the women pointed out if the men were the ones falling asleep, things wouldn't be this bad, so maybe the narrative wants me to think this?

I honestly can't tell if this is fair to men or not--I feel like some men would be doing better than this in a crisis? But? Still? Like, yes, the women are dangerous. You don't KILL them, you stack them all with care in an Amazon warehouse. It's a logistical problem, dammit. You restrain them (in case you tear the gauze during transit) and ship them to a facility. Then they're in a safe place while you find a cure. I just. I am troubled by how inefficient the men are. It's so untidy!

They would still be in good shape once they lost the female officers. This was how people in power thought of human life, wasn’t it? In terms of sum benefits and ratios and manageability.

Hicks (the vice warden) is suffering from Left Behind syndrome in that he doesn't realize his job is 24 hours from irrelevant. Like, even if you don't have relatives affected by this (how could you not) and even if the fate of humanity is a bore your job is obsolete.

Update: Our rapist character has escalated to full blown murder, and swearing a blood oath against his rape victim.

I'm... genuinely pissed at how quickly people are taking the "kill all the women" idea and running with it? Everyone is running on no sleep and uppers, so maybe this is "realism" but the plague started less than a day ago! People think killing all the women on earth is a super good plan. Rather than containing them, curing them? They're literally helpless and harmless if you don't touch them, so this isn't like a zombie apocalypse situation.

If I were a West Virginian, I would be insulted.

Not to mention these women are members of their community! Their wives and daughters.

But if groups of vigilantes—of crazies, whoever—did start to go around killing the sleeping women, homes were the first place they’d check. Where’s your wife? Where’s your daughter? It’s for your own safety, for everyone’s safety. You wouldn’t leave dynamite lying around your house, would you?

Frank (ugh) learns that there's a woman who can wake up at the prison, so he's off to find her. Again: This kind of rumor should be everywhere. It should be legion. It should be normal. It is impossible--impossible--that everyone would've accepted at this stage that a single woman being awake is abnormal. Men would pretend to be women on the internet for attention, money, shit-stirring. People would tell rumors of awake friends out of state.

Then too (I remind you of the reason I'm here) there would be trans women awake and in public. This entire plot hinges on trans women not existing (and on humans not acting like humans). Only even that's too kind, because Clint knows trans women exist. No, the plot hinges on trans women being unable to pass as cis, ever. The plot of this book requires that every trans woman on earth be immediately identifiable as trans at a glance.

“We shoulda seen this coming!” the trucker/preacher proclaimed. “The women flew too high, like that fella with the wax wings, and their wings melted!”

I just feel like you need more than a day to work up a good religious hysteria like this. I really do.

Most of the women aren't even asleep yet! And here's the thing. I want you to imagine that you know, or are pretty sure, that tonight your spouse is going to die. What do you do? I feel like a lot of us would huddle together one last time? Watch a movie, cry, kiss? Share last minute instructions? Stay awake? What has actually happened is that all the women went to Starbucks (no really!) and all the men went to the bar (no really!) Separately. As in, not together. These men's wives are about to die, and the men don't stay to watch. Almost none of them. I'm the worst kind of straw-feminist and even I think this is a bit over-the-top. :/


Now I'm mad. The author knows trans women exist, because he knows a slur for them. But his plot requires them to be identifiable at a look. If you're going to leave trans people out of your novel, LEAVE US OUT OF YOUR NOVEL. Don't slam us to show a redneck is a jerk.

Update: Clint swears he's never broken his marriage vows and that Sheila Norcross isn't his daughter. He apparently believes Shannon gave Sheila his surname (instead of her own?!?) as a tribute? He doesn't seem troubled or curious. I mean. If... If I had an old flame and she had a baby and she gave it my surname without consulting me, I would want to know why.

Frank (ugh) wants to be elected new sheriff so he can remove Eve from prison and give her to his plastic surgeon neighbor to study. Frank, a black man in rural West Virginia, wants to be elected new sheriff in the midst of Christo-fascist religious hysteria.

Wow. I'm... wow. Okay. *deep breath*

So remember all that time we spent in Lila's head and her anguish about the lies Clint has been telling? Well, he's innocent. So there. Sheila doesn't look like Clint, only a paranoid Lila would think so, etc. So that was a total waste of time to set up a Jealous Wife. Kurt Vonnegut Rule #1: Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted. I want my time back, King. I want every minute I spent in Lila's head on this stupid, stupid subplot back. We don't know why or how he's innocent because we're going to flash forward to the internet hoax which kicks off the Burnings.

This vector is highly contagious! The only way to stop the spread of Aurora is to burn the cocoons and the sleeping women inside! Do this immediately!

By the time dawn rose in the midwestern states, Blowtorch Brigades were roaming cities and towns all over America and the world beyond. Cocooned women were hauled to dumps and fields and stadium lawns, where they went up in gouts of fire.

Okay, here it is: Shannon had been in love with him, but Clint needed to ~escape~ so he left her behind. As women do when the man they love leaves them, Shannon found a guy who looks like Clint, got pregnant by that guy, and named Clint father. On the legal birth certificate of record.

That was HOURS of my life and PAGES and PAGES of this novel! It was a massive, enormous subplot from almost the first page! And since Lila was the only person I really care about, it was the only subplot I had a vested interest in. This resolution (50% of the book left to go!) is terrible! Who would do this? Why would you do this?

Giving her daughter your name . . .” She shook her head. “Idiocy. God, I’m tired.” You had no problem taking my name, or giving it to your son, Clint thought, and not without resentment.

Clint is the worst person in the world. He keeps getting pissed at Lila over this. I hate him. I hate him. I take back everything nice I said. All the nice. This has squandered my nice. What kind of subplot hinges on your old flame finding a guy who looked like you to have your almost-baby and naming you the legal father. Oh and telling Sheila a pack of lies about her father, that's just. That's just great. What if she'd googled him?!?!?! I don't know how it works in West Virginia, but states WILL come look to the dad for child support if needed. GOD, what if Shannon had DIED and just omg omg omg omg.

She found out about you, Clint. And now she’s getting sleepy. Alas.” “Found out about what? I have nothing to hide.” “I think you believe that, which shows how well you’ve hidden it. Ask Lila.”

Wait and this... doesn't... make sense because... Eve was wrong? This was the exchange back during her entrance interview. This doesn't make sense; Eve is supernatural and never, ever wrong. She knows everyone's deepest, darkest secrets. So either Clint is lying still and this torturous subplot will continue or we, the reader, were entrapped.

*term searches*


"Sheila" is never mentioned again after this chapter. "Shannon" is mentioned a handful of times to reiterate that while she asked and Clint couldn've, he didn't. (God, this book is Left Behind.) And Eve was blatantly wrong at us, because "She found out about you, Clint" could only have referred to Sheila and Shannon. Because that was the only thing Lila had "found out" and that detail was apparently wrong and I just.

*sets fire to my own hair*

I refuse to let this go. You can't set up a supernatural being who knows everyone's deepest secrets and use them to lie to the reader.


This is some kind of MRA wet dream. Your hot ex pregs up with a clone of you, raises the baby to your memory, and then your wife flips. Then Eve herself descends to falsely accuse you, but you have been chaste and innocent all these years, angel that you are.

It would have been far, far better if Clint had slept with Shannon when it seemed he had, and repressed the memory, for fuck's sake. The whole first half of the novel is now a lie. Clint's disgust with the cheating patient that seemed so artfully hypocritical. I'm going to bed. I'm so angry. I don't even know if I'll continue. What a monstrous waste of a stupid subplot that went nowhere. The only good thing to come out of it is that Lila is still pissed at him. I am just no longer confident that I'm supposed to agree with her. (I agree with her so hard it burns. Kick Clint Norcross into the sun.)

@TheSmithKnight1 I wonder if his book about scary facemoths would have been better had it been about scary facemoths?

YES, that is the other reason this book is giving me Left Behind flashbacks. The good bits have been the spooky horror mothy bits, but that's like maybe 5% of the book? Total? I do not come to horror books about scary facemoths to read about hot ex girlfriends who preg up in your memory and honor.

I am just personally saddened at the waste of all Clint's artful hypocrisy. It was good hypocrisy! Watching his hypocrisy weave and build and grow on each other was satisfying because it was all going to burn down in a glorious crash and the healing could begin. But, no, he's innocent and that tension building and foreshadowing and artful character development was a LIE. As a writer, it just makes me sad. I was genuinely impressed by the delicate touch building Clint up as a shitty guy who thinks he isn't.

Probably that means I hate men, since I don't like Clint. Paradoxically, I don't think the male response to a plague would be mass murder. So who hates men more, huh? The person who believes men are either angels or demons, or the person who dislikes the designated protagonist?

*sits bolt upright in bed*

Wait, am I supposed to think FRANK is a good guy, too?" [Note: We are.]

Surely not, but I assumed we were on the same page about CLINT and here we are now.

Like. I have to break this down. I didn't like Clint because his actions were shitty. But I thought the book was "in" on the dislike with me because Clint's internal narration was about how awesome he is at all times. It was a clever bit of showing instead of telling: I was shown a massively egotistical man whose actual actions didn't measure up to his ego. Only now the book is like "what? I was telling you all this time how awesome he is! I told you every time you were in his head!"

Which. Which just. No, you. You can't.

But Frank has the same thing only dialed up to eleven.

It just occurred to me. The setting is 2017, but Trump is only barely mentioned and Hillary can't be president. A woman president during a woman sleeping sickness would've been mentioned by the Icarus Trucker. So we can't have a woman president.
I called this with my joke about Q putting mankind on trial in Star Trek and I'm not happy.

“To tell you that you are the one.” She laughed cheerily. “That you are the Man.” “I’m not getting you.” “The one who stands for all mankind. As I stand for all womenkind, both those sleeping and those awake. I hate to wax apocalyptic, but in this case I must. This is where the fate of the world will be decided.” She mimicked the momentous drums of television melodrama. “Bum-bum-BUM!”

Why does West Virginia get to decide the fate of the entire world? Can there be any answer that isn't blisteringly awful.

“The men of your town will come for me. They will ask me if I can revive their wives and mothers and daughters. I will say it’s certainly possible, because, like young George Washington, I cannot tell a lie. They will demand that I do it, and I will refuse—as I must. They will torture me, they will rend my body, and still I’ll refuse. Eventually they will kill me, Clint. May I call you Clint?

Lastly: I feel like this entire morality play would be more compelling if we didn't already know Eve is a supernatural murderer?

“Think of it as a fairy tale. I am the fair maiden pent in the castle keep, held in durance vile. You are my prince, my knight in shining armor. You must defend me. I’m sure there are weapons in the sheriff’s station, but finding men willing to use them—to perhaps die defending the creature they believe has caused all this—will be more difficult. I have faith in your powers of persuasion, though.


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