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Sleepwater Beat

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Worth reading 😎

Leo, a "beat spinner" who can literally impact people with words, joins an underground organization of her fellows in this exciting book.

I've always disliked the saying "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." Words can cause irreparable psychological harm, but what if language was even more powerful? In Sleepwater Beat (Blue Helix Book One), author Kathrin Hutson posits a world where certain people manipulate reality with the force of their storytelling--a skill described by the lovely phrase "beat spinning." The effect of each spinner's words is unique: some beat spinners cause their audience to feel happy and relaxed, some make people think they're tasting food, some produce sexual desire, and others cause pain. Leo, the main character, can make people believe anything she says.


Leo's had a difficult life. Her mom walked out when she was young, leaving Leo to be raised by her addict father. Leo's dad mainlines Pointera--a drug designed to help people with ADD or anxiety gather their thoughts. Eventually, Leo's beat spinning place her in danger, and she ends up living on the streets. Then an odd stranger named Karl picks her up--and tells her she's not the only one with storytelling abilities.


Karl introduces Leo to the world of Sleepwater, a connected underground organization of beat spinners. Leo hasn't exactly kept up with the news while she's been homeless, and she learns that spinners are in serious trouble. The skill has been outlawed by the government, and the wealthy pay top dollar to experience beat spinning in private clubs. Meanwhile, an unknown terrorist group has been bombing buildings associated with Pointera; turns out the drug that destroyed Leo's father and her beat spinning are connected.


Sleepwater Beat is sometimes too slow when it comes to revealing important information, and a few of the plot twists (especially when people from Leo and Kurt's pasts keep showing up at opportune moments) feel a little forced, but ultimately Hutson has created a genuinely special and complex world filled with captivating characters and thought-provoking ideas. Beat spinning is mired in the same political and regulatory conflicts as drug dealing or sex work, and Pointera is a timely comment on the crisis of late capitalism--like the opioid epidemic, the pressure of the 24-hour news cycle, and the destructive aspects of the tech and social media industries all rolled into one. Great news for the reader is that Hutson's raised some additional smart questions for a sequel: mainly, what happens when a beat spinner goes bad?

Reviewed by

Co-Founder of The Haint
Former:
Batavia Public Library Tech/Reference Assistant
Literary Agent Assistant at Barbara Braun Associates, Inc.
Personal Assistant to Marilyn Stasio at the NYTBR
Book Review Editor for KGB Bar Lit Mag
Business Manager of Columbia Journal
MFA in Fiction, Columbia U

About the author

International Bestselling Author Kathrin Hutson has been writing dark fiction since 2000. Tainted heroes, excruciating circumstances, impossible decisions, and Happily Never After. Author of The Unclaimed trilogy, the Gyenona's Children duology, and the Blue Helix series. Member of SFWA and HWA. view profile

Published on March 06, 2019

Published by

110000 words

Contains mild explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Dystopian

Reviewed by