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Literature / Sleeping Beauties

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Sleeping Beauties is a novel written by Stephen King and his son Owen King.

A mysterious epidemic affecting only women has swept the world; when women fall asleep, they are shrouded in a mysterious 'cocoon' and are unable to wake up.

One woman, the mysterious Eve Black, is immune to the illness and may be the only one able to stop it.

This novel provides examples of:

  • All Bikers are Hells Angels: While on her way to meet her mother in Dooling, Michaela is forced to make a stop at a McDonalds restaurant due to a flat tire. The only other customer is a massive and bare-chested biker who threatens the waitress to give him all his food for free. Michaela quickly leaves upon seeing him, and after getting her hands on a working car, gets back at the Biker by deliberately running over his motorcycle.
  • All for Nothing: The expedition from Our Place gets wiped out because they think they've found another female survivor. It turns out it's actually a blow-up sex doll.
  • All Women Are Prudes: Averted. One of the things the women who end up in Our Place miss most is the sex their husbands were able to provide them with.
  • Animal Talk: Animals can freely talk with each other in this reality, or at least the ones near The Tree. There is even a small b-plot about a fox.
  • Apocalypse How: Although it doesn't come to pass, humanity is threatened with total extinction since all women fall into an eternal sleep and the men can't reproduce. Howland even lampshades Aurora wouldn't have nearly been so bad had it been the other way around, since women can still get pregnant thanks to the millions of sperm samples stored in sperm banks the world over.
  • Asshole Victim:
  • Both Sides Have a Point: When it comes to the decision of what to do with Eve Black:
    • On one side there are Clint Norcross and his followers, who have Eve locked up in Dooling's Correctional Facility for Women and want to keep her there. Eve made a deal with them that if Clint is able to keep her alive till a designated time, she will wake up the women (on the condition that they chose to return to the old world). Thus, they put the prison in lockdown mode and refuse to let anyone in to talk to or even see Eve. Clint also correctly fears that there might be men out there in Dooling who want to kill Eve because they hope it will wake up all the women or simply because they want a scapegoat when she proves unable to wake up their sleeping loved ones, which is another reason why he won't turn her over to the proper authorities.
    • On the other hand, you can't entirely blame their opponents, who want to get their hands on Eve, either. The men of Dooling are desperate to find a cure for their loved ones and believe Eve to be the key to finding one (which is technically true, though not in the way they think since Eve can't end Aurora entirely by herself). Their leaders, Frank Geary and Terry Coombs, are correct about the fact that Norcross has no authority to put the prison in lockdown, or that he has the medical knowledge to study Eve to see what makes her immune to Aurora. Frank is at first willing to let Judge Silver bring in a professional negotiator to try and resolve the conflict peacefully. And of course, Norcross' refusal to let anyone near Eve only makes him look suspicious.
    • This is only made worse by the fact that Eve actively pits the two sides against each other by telling Clint she has to stay alive, but telling Frank he has to kill her. When trying to negotiate with Clint, Terry admits that both sides have gone out of line. Later, Clint's son Jared openly wonders if they are the good guys in this conflict.
  • Burn the Witch!: The panic caused by Aurora, combined with a fake news article that the cocoons are contagious, leads to thousands of sleeping women being burned alive. The mobs responsible for this become known as Blowtorch Brigades.
  • A Day in Her Apron: As early as day one of the epidemic, Linny Mars, dispatcher at Dooling's sheriff's department, keeps getting countless emergency calls from men who have no clue how to take care of their male children now that their wives have gone to sleep. One even asks her if FEMA is setting up a facility to take care of the children. Later in the story, Frank Geary notices that many men are walking around in wrinkled clothes since very few of them know how to iron.
  • The Chosen One: Knowing that the men of Dooling will come for her, Eve selects Clint Norcross as the man responsible for defending her, giving him an ultimatum: if he can keep her alive till sunrise next Tuesday, or maybe one or 2 days later, she might be able to stop Aurora.
  • Death by Childbirth: This fate befalls Tiffany while giving birth to her son Andy, due to a number of factors working against her. First, they are in ''Our Place'' with no professional hospitals. Second, she's an ex-junkie. Third, the baby is a breech birth and has to be turned around inside Tiffany's womb first. And finally, the women helping her are forced to use a knife to give the baby enough room.
  • Department of Child Disservices: Clint Norcross recalls how he was taken from his drug-addicted, teenage mother, and put through various foster homes, most of which were at best forgettable and at worst downright horrible. In one of them, the foster parents even made the children under their care fight each other for a McDonalds milkshake. He also remarks how the majority of the children put in foster care end up in prison or worse later in life, and that he himself is one of the few exceptions to this rule. He does mention however that there are good foster homes, even more now than back in his own childhood; he just never landed in any.
  • Does Not Like Men: Elaine Geary, due to her experiences with Frank. She even goes so far as to try and close the gate between Our Place and the old world for good so the women never have to go back, convinced that they will thank her for it in time.
  • Dream Land: The "other side" or "Our Place", where the women go to when they sleep plays with elements of this; if someone is killed in their cocoon on the other side they die in this one. It looks like a more dilapidated and overgrown version of Dooling, and while there women still need to eat and sleep and can even die.
  • Driven to Suicide: From the first moment Aurora is reported, suicide rates among the men of the world drastically increase, with many men unable to live on without hope their wives and daughters will ever wake up, or hoping to join them in the dreamland they went to. A schoolteacher named Eliot Ainsley announces his suicide on a radio show before doing it. And after waking up from her Aurora-induced sleep, Rita Coombs finds her husband Terry has killed himself in the garage after bailing out of storming Dooling's Correctional.
  • Fair-Play Villain: Although Eve has a very low opinion of men and is convinced the women of the world are better off in Our Place, she does value their opinion and is thus willing to let them choose if they want to go back or not if Clint is able to keep her alive. When Elaine Geary sets out to destroy the tree that serves as a 2-way portal between the worlds, Eve sends Jeanette to Our Place with instructions to stop her since it wouldn't be fair to let Elaine make the choice for all the women in Our Place.
  • False Flag Operation: After stealing Fritz Meshaum's bazooka, the Griner brothers use it to blow up the Dooling sheriff's office, then send a teenager to the men laying siege to the prison to tell them they are allies of Clint Norcross and this was apparently a warning to them to stop the attack. In reality, both brothers aren't allied to either side of the conflict; they just want to encourage the besiegers to go on with their attack so, in the chaos, they too can break into the prison and kill Kitty McDavid, an inmate who snitched on them and got them both landed in prison.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Early in the story, Clint warns the guards at Dooling Correctional Facility not to tell anyone about Eve Black and her mysterious immunity to Aurora, or else people "might come to prison like torch-carrying peasants Storming the Castle in an old Frankenstein movie". His words turn out to be quite prophetic.
    • When setting up their defenses, Clint and Tig discuss that it won't be possible to defend the raised level of B Wing, but both Clint and Scott Hughes are convinced they won't have to since it would take a bazooka to blow a hole in that wall. No points for guessing what happens during the attack.
    • The ruins of "Our Place" show the damage that resulted/will result from the final battle over Eve.
  • Gendercide: The 'Aurora' epidemic, while not fatal, only affects women.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Don Peters, a correctional officer at Dooling Correctional Facility for Women, who loves to abuse his authority to sexually harass the inmates, always making sure he's not caught on camera or seen by his coworkers. In his own mind he loves to paint himself as a victim who is constantly seduced by the various inmates, while it's perfectly clear he's just a sexually perverted, irredeemable Manchild. After finally getting fired, he keeps telling himself and everyone else that he was framed.
    • Fritz Meshaum, a notorious animal abuser, weapons collector and domestic abuser. He uses his wife Candy as his own punching bag, and later admits that he killed her after she fell asleep due to Aurora. It's hard to feel sorry for him when he gets robbed by the Griner Brothers and then killed by Van.
  • Healing Factor: Eve Black heals from several bruises she inflicted upon herself in a matter of hours.
  • Humanity Is Infectious: Eve remarks that the longer she stays in Dooling, the more human she becomes, something that is proven by the fact that she develops a liking for Clint and feels remorse over having to kill Judge Silver when he is about to bring in outside help for the conflict in Dooling. It's suggested this isn't the first time it happened to her either.
  • The Insomniac: Maura, an inmate at Dooling Correctional Facility for Women, suffers from this. It protects her against Aurora at first, but Eve Black is able to make her fall asleep when she gets Maura to kiss her.
  • Insult to Rocks: Mentioned when Clint is informed how hopelessly understaffed the guards at Dooling Correctional Facility for Women are due to Aurora:
    To call this a skeleton crew would be an insult to skeletons.
  • Just One More Level!: After forcing Officer Hicks to give her his smartphone, Eve gets hooked to a game called Boom Town.
  • Klatchian Coffee: The Super Coffee that Jeanette Sorley and Angel Fitzroy brew for the inmates of Dooling Correctional.
  • Macabre Moth Motif: Flocks of moths appear throughout the novel, as they are linked to Aurora and Eve Black. At one point, while in prison, Eve emits a whole flock of moths from her mouth to subdue fellow inmate Angel Fitzroy.
  • The Man Behind the Man: After Lila finally succumbs to sleep, Terry Coombs is made acting sheriff. However, he's an alcoholic and clearly not up to the task, so it doesn't take long before he becomes just a figurehead to Frank Geary, whom he appointed as his deputy.
  • Matricide: After being fired, the first thing Don Peters does is go home and kill his already sleeping and cocooned mother. Then he burns down the house to cover his tracks.
  • Men Use Violence, Women Use Communication: Discussed by a history teacher named Howland, who compares women to coolies from the mines (people whose job it was to keep machinery from overheating with water) and fears that with the women gone, the men of the world will soon start killing each other.
  • Offing the Offspring: Angel Fitzroy got pregnant when she was 17, but hid it from everybody and killed her baby after it was born. Reminding her of this is her Berserk Button.
  • Outsourcing Fate: Although Aurora is a worldwide epidemic, only the women in Dooling got sent to Our Place after falling asleep. And in the climax, they get to make the final decision; if they choose to stay in Our Place, all other women in the world will be send there as well and humanity can start fresh in this new world. If they choose to go back to the old world, all women worldwide will wake up.
  • Papa Wolf: Frank Geary, whose main motivation for leading the attack on Dooling Correctional is to get his daughter back.
  • Patient Zero: Eve Black is believed to be this for Aurora since she's the only known woman who is immune to the disease.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Eve, who recalls how she has seen dinosaurs.
  • Riddle for the Ages: We never learn what exactly Eve Black is, other than that she's supernatural and an emissary of the force behind Aurora. It's also never revealed what the true cause of Aurora is.
  • Screaming Birth: Tiffany when giving birth to Andy. Not surprising, considering how much went wrong during the labor (see Death by Childbirth above).
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: One of the men in Frank Geary's posse when Eve Black demonstrates her powers by reviving Willy (who had just suffered a heart attack).
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The night before Frank Geary and his posse will attack Dooling Correctional, Terry Coombs decides to bail out, realizing he really isn't up to the task as acting sheriff. Frank watches him go, not sure whether to feel pity for Terry because he isn't man enough to handle the situation, or envy him because he gets to leave before things turn ugly.
  • Skewed Priorities: Lampshaded by Frank Geary as he watches news footage of a man removing the cocoon from the face of his wife, upon which she violently attacks him and bites off his nose, causing the husband to utter a curse word.
    The news network had bleeped out motherfucker but had permitted America to see a woman tear off a goodly portion of her husband's nose. Something in those priorities was badly screwed up.
  • The Sleepless: Eve temporarily turns Michaela into one so she can help Norcross get reinforcements and weapons to defend the prison, but warns her that it will wear off in a few days and after that, Michaela will go to sleep no matter how much she tries to prevent it.
  • Slipping a Mickey: When Janice Coates, the warden of Dooling Correctional, finally finds evidence of Don Peters' sexual harassment and fires him, he gets back at her by drugging her coffee with her own Xanax pills, which he found in her purse earlier.
  • Sole Survivor: Celia Frode is the only survivor of the failed expedition to see if there are other women outside the Dooling in Our Place; the rest are killed in the landslide that destroys the abandoned men's prison they were searching.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Eve is able to communicate with, and in some cases, control different animals.
  • Storming the Castle: In the climax, the men from Dooling form a posse and attack the prison where Clint and his followers are holding Eve.
  • Technically Living Zombie: If the cocoon on a sleeping woman is broken, she will immediately attack the person that broke the cocoon with mindless, homicidal fury (with a notable exception), then eventually go back to sleep and become cocooned again.
  • Toilet Paper Substitute: After the Bright Ones Cult is arrested and their compound abandoned, a few pages of their new nation's Constitution are scattered by the wind and end up pinned to cacti. A graduate student hiking in the area comes across them, and since she has to defecate she happily uses the pages as toilet paper.
  • The Tokyo Fireball: A massive gang war between the Bloods and the Crips, combined with there being hardly any firefighters or police on duty due to Aurora, results in what becomes known as the Second Great Chicago Fire.
  • Troll: Eve Black really knows how to push peopleís Berserk Buttons. Itís one of the reasons Clint doesnít want people from outside the prison to get their hands on her; even if they initially mean well, Eveís ability to piss people off could easily anger one of them into killing her. Eve also intentionally creates the main conflict between those that want to protect her and those that want to kill her.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Angel Fitzroy is terrified of rats.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: While any woman whose cocoon is broken turns homicidal and will violently lash out at even their own family and closest friends, they still maintain enough of their maternal instincts not to harm their own children. Early in the story, a woman woken up by her 2 year old son simply puts the boy outside the house, then goes back inside to sleep.
  • Xanatos Gambit: For Frank Geary, killing Eve Black is this. If killing her wakes up all the women, it's a happy ending for everyone. If it doesn't, then at least he will have avenged his daughter.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: Time passes much faster in Our Place than in the old world, though to the women there it doesn't feel like that and they don't age any faster either.