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The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson WalkerThe Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
Published by Random House Publishing Group on January 15th 2019
Genres: Fiction, Dystopian
Pages: 320
Goodreads

These days, science doesn’t take much interest in dreams.

I’m rating this purely based on my personal enjoyment and connection with the narrative. Some people are going to love this book.

I read Walker’s The Age of Miracles more than six years ago, didn’t love it, but wanted to give her another try. I know my tastes have changed. Maybe even the author had changed, too. As it turns out, my review of her debut is fairly similar to how I feel about The Dreamers, comma splices aside.

This book is full of dreamy hypnotic prose. I can count on one hand the amount of books where this style has worked for me. In fact, right now, I can’t actually think of one. There’s this sense that you are looking down on everything from a distance; through a haze. It is written in third person and moves through small chapters – vignettes, almost – with many different people who I never felt a connection to.

The Dreamers‘ premise is virtually identical to King’s Sleeping Beauties, except here the sleeping sickness can affect men and appears to be contagious. The major difference, I feel, is in how much we are pulled into the characters lives. Sleeping Beauties was not a fast-paced book, but I felt very drawn into the drama. With a page count almost twice as long as this book, it’s hardly surprising that there was far more character development.

In the first few chapters of The Dreamers, a girl dies under mysterious circumstances, her friends and parents mourn, and it is all narrated with such bizarre detachment. The sleeping sickness spreads from there and the author explores how it affects many different lives. Some of this is interesting; some of it feels repetitive.

It is a book for those who enjoy sleepy, beautifully-written novels. The characters won’t stay with me, personally, nor should you come into this expecting a satisfying sci-fi story in which things are explained. Much like dreams, a lot doesn’t make sense in this book. What I will probably remember the longest are the quotes that touched me. Such as this one:

This is how the sickness travels best: through all the same channels as do fondness and friendship and love.

CW: Suicide.

One StarOne StarHalf a Star

2 Comments

  1. Ha. After “I can count on one hand the amount of books where this style has worked for me”, I was going to ask “ooh, which ones?” but then read the next line. On to the next I guess!

  2. The major difference, I feel, is in how much we are pulled into the characters lives.

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