Monday, October 26, 2015

Title: Dreamstrider
Author: Lindsay Smith
Series: n/a
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Source: ARC received for review from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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A high-concept, fantastical espionage novel set in a world where dreams are the ultimate form of political intelligence.

Livia is a dreamstrider. She can inhabit a subject's body while they are sleeping and, for a short time, move around in their skin. She uses her talent to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. But her partner, Brandt, has lately become distant, and when Marez comes to join their team from a neighboring kingdom, he offers Livia the option of a life she had never dared to imagine. Livia knows of no other dreamstriders who have survived the pull of Nightmare. So only she understands the stakes when a plot against the Empire emerges that threatens to consume both the dreaming world and the waking one with misery and rage.

A richly conceived world full of political intrigue and fantastical dream sequences, at its heart Dreamstrider is about a girl who is struggling to live up to the potential before her.

I wasn't expecting this to be anything like Inception. Okay, maybe a little. And so far as being confused for half the thing, it was exactly like that movie. The summary states that this novel is "high concept" and I get where they're coming from, especially so far as the political intrigue matters, but I think the book is about so much more, with that simply being the driving force.

Dreamstrider boasts of a girl who can traverse the dream world and inhabit others' bodies while they sleep. But that's not the half of what this book is. There's so much espionage and military stratagem and romance and then you have the dream world itself. And that's all without delving into Nightmare and what its return means for the residents of Barstadt.

Even after the thing that I expected to happen happened, I was still content to keep reading. I wanted to see Livia gain her freedom. She'd already freed herself from the shackles of the Tunnels, but in doing so, she found herself in a cage at the Ministry, dreamstriding for the Barstadt Empire as they saw fit, always with the promise of citizenship papers dangled before her. So, yeah, even though I knew certain opportunities sounded too good to be true, I still wanted to see Livia fight her way out of this life.

The romance swings into triangle territory a bit, but I honestly thought one of the characters was off the table, as far as love interests go. I never factored him in and them BAM, he's professing his undying love. I loathe when a romance comes out of left field. It could be argued that he was always an option, though not a viable one, that it was clear he cared about Livia from the start. But caring and acting on feelings of love out of nowhere are two very different things. And the amount of time Livia spends lamenting on the impossibility of a relationship with this person is near-obsessive.

There were some serious religious undertones in this book, as well, and not being a very religious person myself, I found it to be a bit preachy. It equated to the Dreamer being this God-like figure, worshiped and revered among the Barstadters and thought to be a fraud by outside cultures. Livia has to come to terms with who the Dreamer is and what that means for her and the fight to keep Nightmare from returning to her world. She struggles with her faith in the Dreamer throughout the novel, but it comes to a culmination just when she needs her faith the most.

I was all set to rate this book four stars...until the last 50 pages or so. It had been such a slow, lovely read, with the author methodically giving us glimpses of Livia's world and that of the dream world, Oneiros. It never felt like enough, though...until it was too much and then it was utter chaos and I couldn't tell one world from the other, though that was probably the point. But it just made the ending feel too rushed to me.

GIF it to me straight:

About the Author:

Lindsay Smith's love of Russian culture has taken her to Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and a reindeer festival in the middle of Siberia. She lives in Washington, DC, where she writes on foreign affairs. SEKRET was her debut novel.

Find Lindsay:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr

1 comment:

  1. I definitely had a hard time with this one... but for me it was the execution of the dreaming and the dreamworld. I think I had a hard time with the "fantasci" aspect and blending the two genres! I also just wanted a bit more world building.... or I was just like Inception and was a bit confused the whole time haha! (Although I adored Inception)


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