review

#Release: MANIA by J R JOHANSSON #NightWalkers #YoungAdult #review

Mania is the final book in the Night Walkers trilogy; a series I have followed since the release of Insomnia in June 2013. In these books, J R Johansson pulls us into an often frightening and tense world and though the trilogy is defined as Young Adult, they are fascinating and compelling for any age group.

BOOK ONE

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Her eyes saved his life.
Her dreams released his darkness.
After four years of sleeplessness, high school junior Parker Chipp can’t take much more. Every night, instead of sleeping, he enters the dreams of the last person he’s made eye contact with. If he doesn’t sleep soon, Parker will die.
Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that is utterly addictive. But what starts out as a chance meeting turns into an obsession; Parker’s furious desire for what he needs pushes him to extremes he never thought he’d go. And when someone begins to terrorizing Mia with twisted death threats, Parker’s memory blackouts leave him doubting his own innocence.

Purchase: Amazon | B&N

Review (originally published in March 2013)

The concept behind this book is interesting and engaging, and I was eager to read my copy, which I received viaNetgalley.
I found the main character, Parker, appropriately lacklustre, after four years without a proper night’s sleep. Somehow though, he still manages to function daily at school, drive a car and play soccer. His mum thinks he is taking drugs, and his best friend thinks his behaviour is normal! When Parker meets Mia, the new girl in town, he finds that sleeping becomes easier for him and the author allows the reader to see a change in Parker’s personality almost immediately. Rather than becoming more relaxed, he is obsessive, about Mia, and in other areas of his life, and when things begin to spiral out of control, his confusion and psychosis become more obvious in the narrative.
J.R.Johansson works to keep the reader connected with the story, and she does this by creating engaging characters. Initially, I felt sympathy for Parker but then this became frustration and annoyance; and then during his moments of psychosis I know I was as confused as he was, but I still wanted to like him.
Finn and Addie are exactly the kind of friends anyone would want on their side in a fight. They are kind, loyal and honest. I loved these two for giving Parker another chance and helping him find out the truth.
Mia is a difficult character and I never entirely felt she was trustworthy. However, the author ties Mia and Parker’s lives together closely, meaning that when Mia is threatened the panic for Parker is heightened, and felt by the reader.
Insomnia is an impressive story which I found it impossible to tear myself away from. J.R.Johansson builds the plot from Parker’s sleeplessness to an intense story about a stalker, violence and an unwinding mental state. Insomnia is a must read for mature YA fans!

Rating:

 

BOOK TWO

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In the aftermath of the events that nearly killed him, Parker Chipp is trying to learn to cope better with life as a Watcher. And it seems to be working…until he wakes up in jail with a hangover and 12 hours of missing time. Darkness has somehow taken control and Parker doesn’t have a clue how to stop him. He finds an unlikely ally in Jack, the mysterious guy in the motorcycle jacket who offers to help Parker master his abilities as a Watcher. But even as they practice, the darkness inside Parker is getting more and more powerful, taking over Parker’s body and doing everything he can to destroy Parker’s life.

When Jack reveals that there is another kind of Night Walker, known as a Taker, Parker starts to wonder if the strange things happening in Oakville are more than just a coincidence. After all, people are more than just sleepwalking. They’re emptying their savings accounts with no memory of doing so, wandering into strange parts of town and disappearing, they’re even killing other people–all in their sleep. If Parker wants to find out what’s happening or have any hope of seeing his father again, he’ll have to defy Jack and put his own life in danger…because the more he learns about these other Night Walkers, the more certain he becomes that his life isn’t the only one that could be lost.

Purchase: Amazon | B&N

Review (originally published in July 2014)

In Paranoia J R Johansson drives us further into the Night Walker world, which we first encountered in Insomnia.
The story begins with a mystery; individuals disappearing in Oakville and its surrounding area, which forces us to question the connection this has with the Walkers. Luckily, J R Johansson has already considered this and to bring more depth to the story Jack is re-introduced, only this time as a main character. Jack is Parker’s ‘protector’, appointed as such by Parker’s missing father. Jack has a vast knowledge of the Night Walkers and he is willing to teach his charge.
In order to fully understand the events in Paranoia we must first grasp the new terms Jack uses; ‘walker’, ”builder’ and ‘taker’, and to help us J R Johansson uses these words frequently, in context.
This book continues the psychology theme and interestingly, at several points, even Freud is quoted. This is to help us accept Parker’s ‘divided’ state; the way in which his personality is shared between ‘Darkness’, who exerts an increasing control, and ‘Parker’. Throughout the novel Parker struggles with this dichotomy, trying to resist the negative feelings which ‘Darkness’ spreads, but ultimately it is the union of the two which saves the people he cares for.
Parker’s relationships with Finn, Addie and Mia are just as important in this book as they were in Insomnia although the inclusion of Jack puts strain upon the group’s comfortable routine. Initially, Finn is as laid-back as we have previously seen him, which makes later events so disturbing.
Through her dreams we see Mia reconciling with her past, and with Parker’s help, she makes plans for a positive future.
Addie’s role is more important in Insomnia as her talents are revealed by Jack. This, and other events, put Parker and Addie’s new romance under stress and while Jack tries to replace Parker, we wonder if they can regain what they had.
Paranoia is a complicated novel, but J R Johansson’s writing style allows us easy access to the plot.The later chapters are filled with action, emotion and apprehension, and we reach the story’s end with a sense of finality, although I would really like to follow Jack’s story.
This is a must-read for fans of Insomnia, but I would recommend the Night Walker series to anyone looking for Young Adult books with a difference.

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BOOK THREE

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Jack and his half-brother Parker have no time to mourn the loss of their father, Daniel Chipp. With an attack by the body-stealing Takers imminent, the pair must put aside their grief and track down the ingredients of Daniel’s formula—one that will rein in the power-hungry Takers—to keep their family and friends out of danger.
Their only hope lies in a puzzle their father left behind, a riddle where each brother unknowingly possesses a piece of the solution. The puzzle sets them on a deadly path, spiraling between reality and the world of dreams where nothing and no one can be trusted entirely. And when Parker finds himself deep in the fray between the Takers and the other Night Walkers, it’s up to Jack to complete the formula and save his brother’s life.

Purchase: Amazon | B&N

Review

In Mania, more than any of the previous two books, J R Johansson takes her characters on a journey. This is not only a physical one, as they follow the clues and find the ingredients to Daniel’s formula, but also an emotional one. This is particularly true for Jack whose detached mask slips away and he allows himself to finally grieve for the people he has lost, as well as realising that he is capable of love – both familial and romantic. this change in Jack means that he becomes a far more interesting character because J R Johansson allows us to see beyond his intelligence, talent and logic.
For the majority of the book parker and Jack are physically separate; J R Johansson connecting us to them both via their alternate narratives. Parker is in a situation in which he tested, in body and spirit. His endurance surprises us and we finally appreciate the effect the brothers have had upon each other.
he trials of Parker and Jack are far from ideal, but these are characters we know well and that gives us hope. However, this does not mean that at times we aren’t on the edge of our seats as J R Johansson builds the suspense to an almost unbearable level.
As Mania is really about the development of the two protagonists, Addie and Mia barely appear, whilst Finn supports Jack on his search. I think some of his humour is lost, but this is appropriate to the tone of the story.
Chloe is very much a character who steps up here and she is pivotal – not only to the running themes of trust and friendship – but to the difference in Jack.
Although I am disappointed that the Night Walkers series has come to an end, Mania is the perfect conclusion and I am happy to say that despite there being a gap of a year between each book, J R Johansson has absorbed me completely into this world.

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Author Links: Website | Twitter

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