The story of None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney tells the story of Emma Lewis, a serial killer survivor, and Travis Bell, a U.S. Marshal candidate. The two teenagers are recruited by the F.B.I. to conduct interviews with convicted juvenile killers in order to provide insight into what makes them a killer. When they interview Simon Gutmunsson, they receive information about an ongoing investigation involving a new teenage serial murderer. While Simon’s advice may be helpful in solving the case of the Berryville Butcher, it does come at a cost: Emma forming a close relationship with a sociopath.
Emma’s story is one of coming to terms with grief and survival. Years prior, Emma escaped the clutches of Huxton, who would kidnap young girls and keep them as his “brides.” Emma escapes to tell the police about the other girls, but when they arrive, the others are all dead. Emma struggles with being the sole survivor throughout the novel. There is a very deep sense of guilt in running away and not being able to save the girls in time. It is also revealed near the end of the novel that when she was running, Huxton grabbed a hold of her hair, which is why she ends up shaving it off after the ordeal. By forming a relationship with Travis, and oddly enough sharing thought-provoking conversations with Simon, Emma eventually learns to accept her survival and her freedom.
Travis’s story, on the other hand, is about understanding and family trauma. His father was killed by Simon when the police showed up to arrest him. Ever since, Travis has longed to understand his father’s death and, ultimately, Simon’s role in it. Throughout his entire childhood, Travis wanted to grow up and be like his father, but after his death, he has to come to terms with if he’s actually okay with following in his footsteps. Travis is also half white and half Mexican American, so there are conversations between himself and Emma where he talks about struggling with his identity.
Although very reminiscent of The Silence of the Lambs, the novel does a great job of establishing itself as something separate and all its own. Plus, it also lives up to its name if you try to read this before going to bed. If you’re a fan of true crime and serial killer stories, None Shall Sleep is a must read.