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Literature / The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To

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The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To is a 2010 novel by DC Pierson (of Derrick Comedy fame), told from the perspective of nerdy high school student Darren, who privately writes a Troperiffic sci-fi epic in his spare time, and his even nerdier friend, Eric, who joins in. One day, Eric discloses to Darren that he is physically incapable of sleeping, and that he never experiences fatigue.

Despite the single fantastical science fiction element (the eponymous Eric) and the over-the-top sci-fi universe the boys devise, most of the book is more Lit Fic about being a nerdy boy growing up in high school in the style of J. D. Salinger, and it isn't until the last four chapters of the book that the speculative fiction takes the narrative wheel.


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The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Colon Cancer: Eric points out that TimeBlaze's titles start to have "more colons than a proctologist".
  • Cursed with Awesome: Not only They Would Cut You Up, but Eric has horrible waking nightmares every two weeks where his subconscious tries to sort out the things most people would in sleep.
    • And they eventually start manifesting themselves in reality.
    • Eric's walking around has also gotten him in trouble with Darren's brother's gang before.
  • Downer Ending: From the prologue, it can be gathered that Darren made a mistake that caused Eric to go away and his abilities made available through Symnitol. Additionally, the availability of Symnitol will lead to the end of the world as everybody gains the ability to become a Reality Warper.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The book opens with Darren in college, talking about a new medication coming out that allows people to stay awake with no consequences, how people who won't become his friends have "dodged a bullet", and how he's already made the biggest mistake of his life. Considering the title...
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  • Foreshadowing: Darren starts seeing things from TimeBlaze happen in real life before the revelation that Eric is causing them to become real.
  • For Science!: The main characters declare this as the reason after they decide to test out the limits of Eric's ability to go without sleep.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: The Man's sunglasses, among other things, show life bars next to everything.
  • Government Conspiracy: The events surrounding Eric's capture.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Never having to sleep, Eric can spend his nights getting to know every nook and cranny of the neighborhood, allowing him to escape any pursuers through his uncanny knowledge of his environment.
  • Invincible Villain: The Man, being the only character from TimeBlaze to not have a weakness. The mysterious leader of The Men in Black who start chasing the boys may or may not be a physical manifestation of The Man. It's never really resolved (although the fact that he doesn't disappear along with Eric's fiery aura and Darren's mech when Eric faints in the final confrontation would suggest that he is not).
  • Magic Realism: The titular description is referred to as Eric's "thing".
  • The Men in Black: The Man.
  • The Noun Who Verbed: The title.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Committee in TimeBlaze.
  • Pietà Plagiarism: Christine explicitly describes holding Eric as this.
  • They Would Cut You Up: Why Eric's never told anybody abut his thing. Implied to be the source of Symnitol in the book's prologue, and Darren states that he's "90,000 percent sure" that's the source at the end.
  • Troperiffic: TimeBlaze: An EVILution. The boys repeatedly mention how they plan to "change the way people think about" various tropes.
  • Reality Warper: Dr. Praetoreous's strong suit is making inventions that do this, from The Legitimacy Engine to The Mortalizer.
    • Later in the book, Eric himself.
  • Wham Line:
    • The last line of Chapter 10, after Darren asks Eric how he built the Thragnacian Containment Pylon:
    "I didn't", he says. "I sort of thought it. I thought it."

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