Title: The Sleeper | Series: Ravens Pass | Author: Steve Brezenoff | Illustrator: Tom Percival | Publisher: Stone Arch | Pub. Date: 2014-4-1 | Pages: 96 | ASIN: B00ITYUZ4K | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: Kindle Unlimited | Purchase on Amazon
The old orphanage on the outskirts of Ravens Pass? It’s full of aliens ready to take over the planet. – Goodreads
The Sleeper Review
The Sleeper is a 96-page science fiction mystery early chapter book. It comes with a few accompanying discussion questions at the back, as well as with some writing prompts and a basic glossary. These writing prompts encourage the reader to continue to interact with the story on their own terms. It plunges the reader right into a world that is theoretically just a few days away from getting destroyed by aliens. But the viewpoint the story is being told from is different than you might expect.
The illustrations in The Sleeper are black and white and surprisingly creepy. The illustrator, Tom Percival, does a solid job doing things like showing how even a smile can be rather disturbing. Nothing is graphic or outright scary at all, and yet readers can definitely experience an unease just looking at the pictures.
The Sleeper introduces the concept of a sleeper agent to young readers. I thought this was interesting and wasn’t expecting it even though the title should have been a dead giveaway. In my defense, the cover for The Sleeper and the two line synopsis don’t exactly tell you what to expect other than aliens!
While there are several good points to The Sleeper, I can’t say I particularly liked it. It felt too brief and even though the discussion questions invite the reader to continue the story, it ends on a massive cliffhanger regarding one of the kids’ fate. This may be deliberate, and for younger readers, it may actually work out well. It enables the child to feel a sense of accomplishment that they finished a book, and yet provides the impetus for them to pick up the next one. (Still made me twitch as it reeks too much of the chop-job that some authors like to do to a plot to sell more books.)
Overall, The Sleeper was an okay read. If it gets even a handful of kids interested enough to pick up another book, then it is has done its job. And, as always, it’s nice to see a beginning chapter book that focuses on science fiction!