Review: “The Sleepless” by Victor Manibo

Release Date: August 23, 2022
Publisher: Erewhon
Genre: Science Fiction


Journalist Jamie Vega is Sleepless: he can’t sleep, nor does he need to. When his boss dies on the eve of a controversial corporate takeover, Jamie doesn’t buy the too-convenient explanation of suicide, and launches an investigation of his own.

But everything goes awry when Jamie discovers that he was the last person who saw Simon alive. Not only do the police suspect him, Jamie himself has no memory of that night. Alarmingly, his memory loss may have to do with how he became Sleepless: not naturally, like other Sleepless people, but through a risky and illegal biohacking process.

As Jamie delves deeper into Simon’s final days, he tangles with extremist organizations and powerful corporate interests, all while confronting past traumas and unforeseen consequences of his medical experimentation. But Jamie soon faces the most dangerous decision of all as he uncovers a terrifying truth about Sleeplessness that imperils him–and all of humanity.

My Thoughts

This is where the meat of Manibo’s story lies, for this is not so much a whodunit as a treatise on capitalism’s disastrous grip on the American soul. It is tempting to think that if I became Sleepless I would spend it relaxing and being with my family, but eventually I’d probably end up doing what most of the characters in The Sleepless do: work more. The lure of making more money and having more options coupled with the Western urge to be a productive member of society win out over frivolity and mutual aid in Manibo’s novel. It is more of who we already are, but that does not mean we cannot become something else. That Manibo uses a queer Filipino American main character as his tool for this discussion is not only welcome representation but a brilliant bit of incisive critique of colonialism and Western ideologies.

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