Or maybe Eve is a wicked spin on Genesis. “Evie doesn’t trust the snake, obviously” the Kings write in a brief prologue set in an Eden-like clearing featuring exotic animals and a large tree. “She’s had trouble with him before.”
Whatever she is, Eve calls the shots here. She mocks all men, has supernatural powers and commands the armies of moths that provide the book’s only real fright. And she is important during the many, many scenes in which women start falling asleep. Long after we get this idea and learn that the malady, called the Aurora virus, is a worldwide blight, the women whose webs have been disturbed start doing their zombie thing. And then a select group of them are drawn to the magical spot where the tree is. They find a haven. And this may be all you need to know about “Sleeping Beauties”: They name that haven Our Place, as if it were a support group running its own coffee shop.
While the sleeping/waking women bond and leave behind their conveniently bad marriages, the men left behind act out their own stereotypes. Some are righteous. Some are brutes. One idiotic trucker starts preaching about why the women have gotten what they deserve for wearing pants, and vigilante brigades want to torch the cocoons. (Terrible idea.) Rumors run amok. “In a terrified world, false news was king,” the authors write, deliberately just avoiding the more common phrase that is now so popular. This book has its political opinions, and it is no fan of the “fake news” crowd.
Not even the inevitable zombie apocalypse feels like anything new. “It seemed like something straight out of that show where rotting dead people came back to life,” which is a strangely stale reference for the senior King to make, considering the fact that he’s currently better known for writing films and TV shows than for watching them. “Sleeping Beauties” will inevitably wind up on the screen somehow. Whoever adapts it will have to beef up the characters and deflect attention from the nonthrilling main theme. As Eve puts it: “I think it might be time to erase the whole man-woman equation. Just hit delete and start over. What do you think?”