Sleepers (The Swarm Trilogy, Vol 1)

by Jennifer

by Megg Jensen

One of the things I like best about my iPad is reading books on it. And with the proliferation of ebooks there are so many more available to read. I check a lot of books out of the library using Overdrive, but I also like to check out authors I’m not familiar with, especially if they offer inexpensive or free copies of their books.

Sleepers was on my list of recommendations from Amazon, and it has the wonderful price of free — hard to beat that. So, I downloaded it, and read it. And honestly, I wish I could get that time back.

I realized when I was around 81% through the book that the only reason I was continuing to read it was because I was so close to the end, I wanted to get it finished. Ironically, at that point I decided to go to and write a review of it there. I figured, with only 19-20% of the book left, how much could I be missing?

Famous last words.

When I wrote the review on Amazon, I disliked it because it was clichéd, boring, the world is fairly undeveloped, and things happen unbelievably quickly (e.g. the main character is in love with one person one day and someone completely different the next).

In my Amazon review, I wrote “All I really know is that two countries warred, her country lost, and she was made hostage to the winning country with two child compatriots.” After that review went live, I finished reading the entire book, and realized that that statement is wrong! Oh, it’s correct for the first 80-85% of the book, but at the end the author pops some surprises, and one of the major ones in this story [spoiler alert] is that the “losing” side of the battle was really the winning side. They had used their magic to basically enslave the entire country to prepare it for their invasion. And one of the bits of that magic was to have them all believe that they were the winners in a war.

If you are asking yourself, “why would they do that?” Believe me, you’re not alone. This twist seemed somewhat pointless. But there are many other twists that come along in the last 20% of the book, including:

  • The boy she was in love with (and then not) was actually using her. He was in love with her adopted sister.
  • That same adopted sister was conspiring with him to take over the whole country — she got the queen arrested, married the king, and then Lianne (the main character) would kill the king and she would marry Lianne’s boyfriend, who would then become king.
  • Lianne, it turns out, is a twin. And her twin is identical to her. In fact, the only way you can tell them apart is that Lianne has a bruise on her cheek.
  • That twin is killed about five pages after you meet her. Killed, in fact, by the same boyfriend that wanted to become king. He killed the sister thinking it was Lianne.
  • But before you can get broken up about the death of a character we only just met, her mother arrives, carries the body off to the healers saying “her soul hasn’t left her body yet. We will save her.” Nope, she’s not dead.
  • The city that the story is set in is sacked in that last 20% and the king (who wasn’t killed) is thrown in the dungeon, so that Lianne’s people can take over.

By the time the book was finished my head was spinning. The author hasn’t just set it up for book 2, she has created a whole new plot (two or three, in fact) for the book in the final pages.

This book could be good. The ideas are interesting, and the themes, while underdeveloped, make sense. But Ms. Jensen needs to spend more time editing for clarity and timing. She should ask herself and her first readers if the plot makes sense. Would it really be possible to hide a huge fleet just a few hours off shore? Can a city be sacked in a day? Do anyone other than 16-year-olds fall in and out of love in just a few seconds? Is it possible that some of the plot twists that happened in the last fifth of the book could have been introduced in some fashion earlier in the story?

This book is free, so I’d be curious what you think of it. Right now there are very few negative reviews on Amazon. Am I being too harsh? I don’t think so, but others might.