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Insomnia

Narrated by: Eli Wallach
Length: 25 hrs and 39 mins
4 out of 5 stars (614 ratings)

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Summary

You'll lose a lot of sleep.... Ralph does. At first he starts waking up earlier. And earlier. Then the hallucinations start - the colours, shapes and strange auras. Not to mention the bald doctors who always turn up at the scene of a death.

That's when Ralph begins to lose a lot more than sleep. When he begins to understand why his hitherto mild-mannered friend, Ed, is getting out of control - dangerously so. And why his hometown is about to become the new Armageddon....

©1994 Stephen King (P)1994 Penguin Highbridge

What listeners say about Insomnia

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Annoying music!

Thoroughly enjoyed the story, but the music at start and end of each chapter was jarring and too loud; it drowned out the reader!

24 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A great story

A good story read brilliantly by Eli Wallach who was unfortunately drowned out occasionally by completely unnecessary, ghastly, discordant music. Please, please don't put that horrible row into any more books.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Good but be warned...

The story is great and Eli Wallach performance is good, but Audible seem to have managed to re-create everything that is bad about cheesy Stephen King film adaptions.

I never usually write reviews but I was so annoyed by the music that was added to this book. It seems like they have managed to find a deaf - mute chimp and asked him to write the music.

On reflection, I think that is being too kind.

The music is terrible and whoever decided to add it to the narration should be wiped off the face of the earth.

Apart from that minor problem the book is great.

32 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A great story, ruined by discordant instrumentals.

Would you try another book written by Stephen King or narrated by Eli Wallach?

Definitely written by Stephen King, I have almost all his books in hard copy as well as audible and e books.

How could the performance have been better?

I think Will Patton or Kate Mulgrew would have been a better choice as narrator, they adapt their voices well for the characters.

Do you think Insomnia needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Follow up books can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how they are written, just as with films.

Any additional comments?

The awful instrumentals laced throughout this book ruined it for me. I have read it in hard copy and was really looking forward to listening while driving or doing housework. I can't express how disappointed I was that a good story was ruined so badly by that strident "music"

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Would have given 5 ⭐️ but....

Loved this story and the performance was amazing BUT at times I had to turn it up so loud because the narrators voice seems to meld into the same sound and words were quite indistinguishable.. don't get me wrong.. a great narrative but just trying to hear individual words if you had any kind of noise in the background was difficult.. loved it but could do with a different narrator..

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Bad production spoils another great audio book

I don't normally write reviews for audio books...even when they are not that great, but the production on this book is so astoundingly poor that I felt I had to.

What I'd like to know is what, exactly, compelled the production team to overlay "suspenseful" muzak over the narrator to the point where we can't actually hear what he's reading.

Right enough, Stephen King is well know for writing bland and boring books. I mean, its not like he's built a reputation on writing thrillers so immersive that Hollywood will happily spend millions trying to transfer his books into movies. So why WOULDN'T you ladle on someone plucking guitar strings with a fork over the beginning of EVERY CHAPTER.

I can only think of two reasons why someone would want to destroy Mr King's book in this manner.

1) The musician is a relative of some well meaning member of the production team and got the gig because they were trying to cut them a break. "Just wait till you meet my brother Dan. He hasn't worked in while but thats mostly so he can work on his music. Its a really different sound, he attacks guitars with forks."

2)The producer of the audio book is actually a failed writer and, jealous of Mr King's achievements, has set about in a life long vendetta to destroy him...starting with the audio books.

I returned this book after an hour. Torn between genuinely wanting to listen to the rest of the story and driving my car straight off a cliff whenever "ol' forky" would start up I thought it the safest option.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Music Spoils the Book

What did you like best about Insomnia? What did you like least?

Music during the chapters drowned the narration and was pointless. A shame.

If you’ve listened to books by Stephen King before, how does this one compare?

Had to give up because of the music intervention.

What didn’t you like about Eli Wallach’s performance?

Eli was fab, music drowned him out.

Did Insomnia inspire you to do anything?

Write a petition not to use music on audiobooks.

Any additional comments?

I hope this is not a new trend, as i will not be buying. Returned.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Had to give up with about 7 hours left

If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

Honestly, I'm a big fan of Stephen King, but I don't think anyone will enjoy this particular audiobook. Story-wise it is overly-long, and far too drawn out for the quality of the content. It becomes more and more ridiculous as it meanders its way through both nice, touching, scenes, and book destroying plot content.

On top of this, the added "music" track is incredibly loud and obnoxious, detracts from the story every single time it is used, and actually drowns out the actor as he mumbles up a storm.

Has Insomnia put you off other books in this genre?

No.

What aspect of Eli Wallach’s performance might you have changed?

Mumbling.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Insomnia?

To be honest if I was the editor this book wouldn't have been published. Stephen King can do, and has done, much better than this in his career. The book gets off to a really interesting start, and has a decent hook to draw you in. However, when it gets going it becomes exceptionally stupid, and increasingly difficult to suspend your disbelief. Spoilers on that below.

One final note though before I get to the spoilers; this could be the finest book ever written, and I'd STILL have to recommend never buying it because of that godawful audio track. Please never do this again.

Any additional comments?

Spoilers:

Having gone through the initial buildup of all the bizarre behaviour of some of the cast, and the main characters gaining what they believe to be magical powers through their insomnia, we come to find out this is all caused by three wee cartoon-esq characters. The "three little doctors" gimmick makes a mockery of what had until that point been a passable story. They cut the "balloon strings" coming out of people's "auras" thus ending their lives. Two of them abide by a sense of order - the third is a wild card! He collects trophies and then kills his victims by cutting their string with a pair of rusty scissors!!! Then, at some point after this, they die of one cause or another.

The two pensioners gain the special power that they can shoot energy out of their hands by doing a karate chop, or by pretending their hand is a gun (like a little kid playing cops and robbers). The shark jump here (if you can believe after this crap you still haven't jumped it) is that they can only do it once before they need to recharge by sooking energy out of other people. This completely contradicts what the two orderly wee doctors tell them that everyone is a vast and almost infinite ocean of energy - so it wont matter if they sook a wee bit out of people around them. If everyone is vast and infinite energy, why can't they just use their own energy? Is everyone else BUT them an energy source?

Another magical ability they gain is the ability to read minds and whatnot through seeing auras. Incoming Shark Jump! The main dude somehow knows about stuff that happened off-set on an old movie he's watching purely because he can somehow see the auras on the old movie as it plays on his telly. What kind of bollocks is this?

Throw in the shocking audio track and the old boy mumbling the words, and I couldn't give a toss if the "bad guy" character (who has apparently gone nuts and is acting out the wishes of the wildcard little doctor) manages to crash a plane into the building the pro-abortionists are giving a speech in. All I can really say is this is the most disappointing Stephen King book I've ever read / listened to.

AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great story, great reading - dreadful music

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

It's a lengthy and enjoyable reading which in my opinion makes this purchase money well spent

What was one of the most memorable moments of Insomnia?

Sadly the memorable moments are the most frustrating (see comments below).

Which scene did you most enjoy?

When a certain character got his comeuppance.

Could you see Insomnia being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

Definitely, as with a gazillion other Stephen King books. All the actors that spring to mind for Ralph are too old (or dead) - Jimmy Stewart would have been super.

Any additional comments?

Insomnia is a favourite of mine and I've read it a couple of times. Finding it here and read by Eli Wallach - a 'proper' Hollywood actor of a classic era - made its purchase a no brainer. And it's just as enjoyable to listen to as to read ... except for the incredibly intrusive incidental music that cruelly punctuates the reading at far too frequent and inopportune moments. It's discordant and unnecessarily loud and it's driving me up the wall. And yes, I realise that's the point - the lead character is functioning on increasingly fewer and fewer hours' sleep, the music is no doubt meant to mirror his frazzled nerves - but whoever thought this ear drum-jangling cacophony was a good idea and would compliment the actor's reading - it damn well doesn't!

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

king

good book well read let down only by the music. so annoying when your trying to listen to the story to have that irritating little off tune fading in over the narration at the end of each chapter

2 people found this helpful

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Profile Image for Linda Thackeray
  • Linda Thackeray
  • 26-06-17

Great story and narration. God awful music.

Great story, rivetting. Eli Wallach's voice is a joy to listen to. The only thing was the music, it was terrible and inappropriate. Marred an otherwise excellent read of a great book.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Richard
  • 08-08-16

Too much music

What three words best describe Eli Wallach’s voice?

Talented voice artist and very easy to listen to.

Any additional comments?

There is terrible music all through the performance. I assume it is between chapters. It is distracting, detracts from the performance and ruins it. It is also far too loud for the voice of Eli Wallach to be heard clearly. There should be a warning that there is music introduced to the book.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kelly Broomhall
  • 30-11-18

Mostly great

I really liked the story and the narrator was good but the discordant music at the end of chapters was really annoying and unnecessary. It tried too hard to be spooky but was just obnoxious.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 22-02-20

Just not that captivating

I've read a number of King titles recently and enjoyed them all. This one wasn't bad. It just isn't especially good. I kept finding myself drifting off thinking about other things. The narrator is top notch however.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • RTE Williamson
  • 04-02-19

Nice yarn. Solid Stephen King. Agonizing music

The music(?) interspersed between chapters and some scenes dominates the result
Don't listen while riding or driving or operating equipment. Some parts are just annoying others are downright painful. Ironically if you read this as you go to sleep... well the effect is counterproductive.

Oh and the the story under all that is quite good.
There are some Dark Tower cross overs. They don't contribute much to story

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Alex
  • 01-09-18

music is a bit overpowering

Good story, a bit slow but with a good ending, classic Stephen King type of novel. Eli Wallach's narration is very good too but the underlying music can be really disruptive and overpowers the narration at times.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • RieksB
  • 21-07-18

Joyful

This is one of my favorite Stephen King books. The only thing that annoyed the crap out of me was the awful, screeching music

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • reg mountford
  • 10-03-17

brilliant

really gripoing all the way through the kind of book i could listen to again