Set in the future an unknown number of years from now (or perhaps in an alternate universe), I Am Sleepless – Sim 299 by Johan Twiss follows the story of Aidan, a Prime who is unusual because he has two special abilities. He was trained since he was young to be a soldier in the army fighting the ruthless Splicers.
With his extra ability, Aidan has been able to puzzle his way through 289 of the 299 simulations available to the cadets, something never accomplished by any other cadet. What he finds in Sim 299 is not what he expected. He is thrust together with two senior cadets into a secret that the director over all the cadet training facilities will stop at nothing to obtain.
The premise of the book is interesting, and the characters caught my attention and kept that interest. Aidan was a strong main character and helped move the story along at a good pace. His supporting cast was also quite strong, outside of a few stereotypes used at the beginning of the story. The only quibble I had was with their dialog. At times, the dialog didn’t sound natural. This was only a periodic issue, but it popped up enough to weaken the strength of the dialog.
Even though the supporting cast was strong, some of those outside the “inner circle” of friends as well as the main villain seemed a little more stereotypical and two-dimensional. The Director was a faceless character for most of the book, and when he was finally introduced I almost felt like I needed a maniacal laughter track because of his actions and attitudes toward Aidan. He had a very one-track mind, and seemed less real to a degree because of that.
Throughout the book, little pieces of the history are shared which lead up to the events in the story. Twiss did a good job weaving those elements into the story in a way which didn’t impede the smooth flow of the narrative. There is definitely a lot more to this world than is shared in this first book in the series.
Unlike many self-published books, Twiss went to the trouble of getting amazing cover art. After reading the book, I can tell the artist had a solid grasp of the story when creating the cover image. I often pick up new works simply because the cover art caught my attention, and such is the case here.
Throughout the books are sketches of many of the genetic monstrosities created either during or before the Splicer War. Some of the combinations are whimsical (kangadog, walguin), and others were downright creepy (spidergoose, mouseroach). The pencil sketches are well done, but would have been better had they been inked; the pencil lines do not always transfer well. Perhaps in the next volume in the series.
I am very much looking forward to the second book in this series. Despite the flaws mentioned above, I enjoyed this book, and I hope it will find its audience. Self-publishing is a very steep uphill climb, and this book deserves to be found.
Release Date: November 13, 2015 (USA)
ISBNs: 1517166330 (9781517166335)
Publisher: Twiss Publishing
Violence: 2 (some fisticuffs, brief descriptions of gruesome virtual death, death)