Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough is a psychological thriller that once again had me questioning my stance on the unreliable narrator.
The thriller Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough hooked me on its premise alone. Emma Averell is approaching her fortieth birthday when suddenly she has trouble sleeping. Like a lot of trouble.
Emma is worried. Her mother had an “incident” when she stopped sleeping around her fortieth birthday, and Emma is worried she is doomed.
Insomnia is the ultimate “I’m afraid of turning into my mother” scenario.
As someone who is terrified of turning into my mother and who suffers from sleep issues, this psychological thriller kept me up at night.
Goes Bump in the Night
I don’t often talk about plot on this book blog because I very much prefer character-driven fiction, but I really enjoyed the pace of this mystery book. There was no soggy middle. Right when I expected the action to slow, it actually revved up. I’ll discuss the reason why it picked up in the next section but first more on the plot.
I enjoyed the subtly of what actually happens in this mystery. These are not in your face occurrences. No one is horribly murdered with multiple knife wounds. Things seem to shift more than happen, and this is why I gravitated toward this book.
I could sympathize with the unreliable narrator.
Readers of this book blog know I do not care for the unreliable narrator. It’s a personal choice because I prefer character-driven fiction. I need to be able to relate to the narrator and empathize, so the narrator must tell me the truth.
What was so refreshing about Insomnia was that the unreliable narrator admits she’s unreliable.
This gave the concept an entirely fresh meaning in this psychological thriller. Instead of not relating to the character, I was rooting for her. The plot picks up because she realizes she might not be reliable, and then goes on a hunt to prove whether or not she is.
Watching her struggle with her own understanding of reality is relatable to anyone living in this fast-paced world we live in now. Emma knew her judgement was impaired from not sleeping. She knew of her mother’s history and questioned her own mental health. But the rational side of her knew she had to find proof of it one way or the other.
It was this very human trait that made Emma relatable and had me actually enjoying the unreliable narrator concept.
There were absolutely things about this mystery novel that I questioned, but the twist on an old concept far outweighed it. If you enjoy unreliable narrators and super twisty psychological thrillers, you’ll want to check this out. I definitely recommend it for readers who enjoyed The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides.