• Insomnia

  • By: Stephen King
  • Narrated by: Eli Wallach
  • Length: 25 hrs and 39 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (39 ratings)

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Publisher's 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
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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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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

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Wonderful story!

A fine work by mr. King. The narrator does s great job, but unfortunately he is sometimes drowned out by the at times aggressive intermezzi. Through some openings it's nigh impossible to hear what's being said, as some fantastically annoying electric guitar wails across the entire spectrum.

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Good narrator, good story, crappy music

Great, exception is the stupid random music they put in. please stop that. It takes you out of the story.

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The story makes up for the horrible music

The music is horrible and too loud but I would give 6 even 7 stars for the story.

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    3 out of 5 stars

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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    4 out of 5 stars

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

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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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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

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  • Puddytat purr
  • 10-11-16

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!

34 people found this helpful

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  • Scottie2Hottie
  • 02-14-19

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.

23 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Pja
  • 09-28-16

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.

16 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Steve Tucker
  • 08-22-16

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.

46 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Gail
  • 08-15-16

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"

12 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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  • nicola
  • 09-26-16

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..

7 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Sarah Novello
  • 07-26-16

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.

16 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Miss P.
  • 10-04-16

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!

6 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Chris Reviews
  • 03-31-17

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

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • bobby
  • 09-29-16

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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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Katie
  • 08-11-16

NARRATOR GREAT, "MUSIC" CRINGE-WORTHY

If you suffer from migraines, don't read this book. the "music" will induce them.
Whoever decided to put that awful noise into this audio book should be fired. It was louder than the narrator and really hurts the head. it totally ruined the whole story for me.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Frank
  • 12-09-16

Brilliant narrator. Badly mixed music effects.

I love revisiting Derry, Maine with Stephen King. My all time favourite King novel, "IT" took place there after all. Eli Wallach gives a masterful performance of what is definitely another brilliant story from the mind of Stephen King. Now I don't mind a bit of background dramatic music from time to time in an audio book but in this case the music was not only unecessary but also completely drowned out the narrator's voice in places because of its sound level compared to the sound level of the voice. Anyone who has ever actually read a Stephen King novel ought to know that he needs no background music to scare the pants off his readers. Add to that the fact that the music itself sometimes sounded like the noise a sick cat would make while being strangled and the end result was extremely annoying. However I managed to curb my annoyance and get through to the end but hey, all you audiobook producers out there listen up! You don't need dramatic background music to sell me a Stephen King audiobook. Lose it guys.

17 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Dee
  • 09-03-16

Couldn't finish! Ruined by 'music'/spooky noise

Plays over audio at a volume high enough to drown out the narrator at times. Particularly jarring if you listen while going to sleep. Unlistenable.

10 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Liam
  • 12-21-16

audio work was horrible

didn't like the story as much as others of King's but I'm a huge fan so love his books no matter what but... the musical inserts between chapters was absolutely terrible. The narrators soft elderly voice was drowned out by extremely loud screeching instrumental pieces that really ruined this story for me.

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Karen Cleary
  • 05-28-17

Disappointing

This is my favourite Stephen King novel, one of the few books I have read more than once. I was so excited when I found the audio book. Imagine the disappointment and disbelief when the awful, loud, LSD inspired music and sound effects started cropping up. It actually drowned out the narrator at times. I would like a word with the rank amateur who ruined this experience for me. I persevered through the whole story because I love it so much, but whenever that noise came on I was close to tears. The sound engineers or whatever they're called ought to be ashamed of themselves for screwing this up in such a basic way.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-03-18

Stop injecting music into e-books.

One of the most jarring books i have read to this point. The story was excellent, the orator was supurb, but whoever injected that awful atmospheric music into this production should be fired. It was unnecessary, overwhelming and truly made listening to this story difficult. At parts it was so loud and obnoxious, I had to replay a sentence five times to hear the words clearly. Please consider this when planning your next production. No. More. Music.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Mark
  • 02-08-17

Great Story

I Love this book, I've read it a number of times and listening to it was amazing. Having an older man read it for it quite well, it's a shame about the musical scores in it though. Horrible jangling scores that hurt the ears and rarely fit into the story.

3 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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  • Kimberley Connery
  • 05-18-17

Enjoyable, but bizarre.

To start, I'm a huge King fan. I love most everything he writes. In saying that, Insomnia was one weird novel. I spent the first half relatively bored, and slogged through on the notion that once I'd finished I'd never have to read it again. From about the halfway mark it turned into one of the strangest things he's written. I was captivated, and it was enjoyable, but I'm still not sure what I think of it overall now I'm done. I'd recommend it to fans of the author.

A note on Audible's production values: I quite enjoyed the use of music to support the narrator, but at times the electric guitar was too blaring, and even made it hard to hear the narrator due to audio level imbalance between the music and the voice. It did not happen often, but was uncomfortable to my ears when it did.

2 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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  • Sue
  • 11-18-20

Turn that damn “music” off

The BIG and only drawback about this audiobook is the offensive annoying discordant blasts of “music” interspersed throughout. This does not add to the story or performance in any way, apart from in a detrimental one.
Went close to ruining the experience

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Karen B.
  • 11-09-20

Music

Enjoyed this book but found the background music really grating would have been much better without it

1 person found this helpful