I'm a writer because I have stage fright.
No one can sleep. This is no ordinary case of insomnia in a few people across the globe. Millions — maybe billions — are dying of a disorder that has no name and no origin. It slowly became an epidemic, spreading to others without warning or cause. In this world where only a few can sleep, violence and madness are what is left for those still able to dream.
The story follows Biggs, Chase, Lila, and Felicia. Biggs must find his sleep-deprived wife after she suddenly disappears. Chase follows his friend Jordan on a road trip into the countryside after hearing about — but not believing in — the insomnia epidemic. Lila must face the truth that her parents may one day try and kill her, so she leaves and wanders the streets in an owl mask. Felicia, Chase’s ex-girlfriend, is barricaded inside a university as she slowly succumbs to sleepless nights.
Black Moon by Kenneth Calhoun is a surreal and entertaining tale. I enjoyed the idea of this particular dystopian world. It was rather unique and an interesting way to show the dangers of a society without “dreams.” There were many beautiful descriptions. The characters were likable with believable flaws. Also, the madness of the world was spun into a gorgeous war between dreams and reality.
There were a few things that bothered me. It was hard to get into at first. There were some things in the plot — not quite holes, more like tears — where things didn’t quite add up or the results of events weren’t satisfactory. There were some phrases that didn’t work for me as well like “He bleated like a lamb…” and “their voices sawing like stringed instruments” in the context that they were used. I also found Lila to be almost a distraction to the story. Her contribution to the plot didn’t seem to justify her space on the pages.
While it wasn’t my favorite book, Black Moon is a good read. I’d recommend it to people who love dystopian novels and compelling descriptions. Calhoun has also published stories in The Paris Review, Tin House, and The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, 2011.