Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress


Review by Wendy Kosak

In 1989, while at Ann's house, someone asked me if there was a pill I could take so I didn't have to sleep, would I take it? At the time I didn't see the point. Right now, I would kill for it.

If someone told me that I could safely make it so my children didn't have to sleep, after some great consideration, I probably would. If someone also told me that this would make my children more mentally stable and happier during the course of their lifetimes, I would jump at the chance. If someone told me that my children would never be ill, never have cancer, AIDS, heart attacks, strokes, recover quickly from accidents, and live for hundreds of years -- I would kill for it.

Who wouldn't? Well, apparently most of the people of the world, according to Nancy Kress' Beggars in Spain. The novel starts with the parents of Leisha Camden deciding that they will have the new procedure to be used on their daughter. By the time that Leisha is 15, only 1082 children have been born using this procedure. Only 1082 in 15 years -- when no bad side effects can be found? This is less a 100 a year! This is like the rate of children born with two heads a year! Why this low number? Well, apparently people think that children that don't sleep are monsters.

This is the first of many assumptions that I had trouble with. Another was that all of these adapted children were ambitious and were successful in everything they tried. One only has to look at fandom to see potential does not always equal to success. Ambition, maturity, interpersonal skills, and a host of other things all end up tied to this sleeplessness thing.

Well the hatred of Sleepless grows and grows, so the children retreat into Sanctuary. Here they end up under thumb of Jennifer Sharifi. Jennifer is a cardboard villain, doing evil things like killing normal babies born to Sleepless. Why these incredibly intelligent people blindly follow her, never makes sense to me.

All in all, I didn't like this novel and can not recommend it.

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