"Of all the things which make up our Short-Time lives, sleep is surely the best, Ralph thought."
I didn't really realise how much I liked Insomnia until I literally couldn't stop reading it one night and turned into a big sobbing mess at around 12.30am.
I had a really slow start with it (not that it's necessarily slow starting, but I took a long time to properly read it) which I thought meant that I wasn't so keen on it, but actually I think it just meant that it wasn't its time yet, and that I wanted to read, I don't know, Let The Right One In instead.
Because, in the end, I really liked Insomnia. Ostensibly, it's all about one character, Ralph Roberts, who hasn't been sleeping well since his wife died, and he ruminates on aging, and abortion (best not to ask) and all sorts of things, until he starts seeing these auras and everything becomes very... strange. But also, completely compelling and interesting, especially to one of Stephen King's Constant Readers. Because, oh boy, Insomnia's like a pay-off book for sticking with King for so long, in that you could just avoid reading it because it seems kind of boring (I say this because this is maybe the oldest unread Stephen King book I had), but when you do, it's like you're privy to some secret treasures that you might have otherwise missed.
I'm going to cut straight to the point. This is both a Derry book and a Dark Tower book, and it's also something else all of its own, all at the same time. Purely for just being a Derry book, I love it- having read It more times than is good for one's mental health, I get a little thrill just imagining the geography of Derry again, having shivers whenever the Barrens, or Neibolt Street or 'the big storm of 1985' are mentioned, because I really get off on that kind of stuff! But then also, Insomnia has an actual part to play in the whole Dark Tower saga, and since I kind of can't get enough of that series, it's amazing to get some back story of a character who isn't really in it loads, but is completely vital to the story. And frankly, I'm completely down with constant mentions of towers, and levels, and roses, which is a good thing, because subtle? It ain't. And hardly ever is.
So, I enjoyed it mostly for those reasons, and I've been trying to think whether or not you could enjoy it without having much of a Stephen King knowledge centre, and I'm thinking... Yeah. Because the reason I stayed up reading it, and the reason I cried at the end had nothing to do with Roland, or the Tower, or It, but purely because I cared about the characters, I was genuinely worried about what was going to happen to them and OH MY GOD THAT ENDING. I probably haven't cried that much at a Stephen King book (or maybe any book) since The Dark Tower VII, and if you've read all those books, you'll know what I'm talking about. I hope. But anyway, the point is that these characters, who aren't specifically connected to any other books, are real, and true, and worth crying over, frankly. Which I think makes a good book any day.
Basically, Insomnia is the kind of book that feels really important to read if you're alllll over the Stephen King, and you need more Dark Tower goodies and you genuinely love it when he references his other books and creates this awesome self-contained universe. You're probably not going to be desperate to read it if that's not the case, but it's still worth a read if only for the damn characters that you can't help but care about. Allow yourself to be constantly surprised by Insomnia. I know I was.