For January I was trying very hard to stick to my Reading List and I was doing well until I received my pre-ordered copy of The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker. I had heard a ton of hype around this book and since I was halfway through my reading list I figured I’d sneak this one in.
Title: The Dreamers
Author: Karen Thompson Walker
Published: January 15th 2019 by Random House
Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction
Goodreads Rating: 3.9 out of 5 Stars
In an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a freshman girl stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics who carry her away, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. Then a second girl falls asleep, and then another, and panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. As the number of cases multiplies, classes are canceled, and stores begin to run out of supplies. A quarantine is established. The National Guard is summoned.
Mei, an outsider in the cliquish hierarchy of dorm life, finds herself thrust together with an eccentric, idealistic classmate. Two visiting professors try to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. A father succumbs to the illness, leaving his daughters to fend for themselves. And at the hospital, a new life grows within a college girl, unbeknownst to her—even as she sleeps. A psychiatrist, summoned from Los Angeles, attempts to make sense of the illness as it spreads through the town. Those infected are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, more than has ever been recorded. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?
Before I actually talk about the story found inside the pages of this book; I want to take a second to emphasis how much I love the cover art for this book. It’s colorful, simple, and eye catching. It definitely made this book even more intriguing for me. I know people say you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, but I always feel more excited to read something that has a cover that pops out to me versus a book with a boring cover. More on the actual story though.
I’ve always had extremely vivid dreams and still have such lucid dreams that sometimes I’m not sure if I’m remembering a dream or a memory. It wasn’t until one day when I was telling my boyfriend about an outlandish dream I had that I realized not everyone dreams so vividly. When I prompted him about his dreams, he simply stated, “I don’t dream, I sleep”. And this explains why I am always tired and he gets actual good sleep!
Anyways I had heard a ton of hype around this book and because of the hype I pre-order this book and got it the day it was released. The idea of dreams is fansintating to me and so I was obvisouly very excited to dive into The Dreamers. I was originally planning on reading this after I completed my January Reading List. Instead I read it the day it came out and honestly I wish I would have waited to read it.
The idea surrounding the story is interesting. A virus of some sort is infecting the residents of a small California town which leads the town eventually being completely quarantined from the rest of the world. Throughout the epidemic we follow multiple characters through their experiences. We see their indifference, their worry, their panic, and their resolution for getting through the epidemic. Personally, while I love a good mulitpe POV, there were too many characters and none of them were fully flushed out. *SPOILER* When Mei dies I want to feel something, but I didn’t, I barely even flinched. Character development could have used some work.
The other big downer for me, was we never get any answers. What is causing this? Why does it end? what are the people dreaming? Are they actually visions? Why are some people more impacted? Why do some people die and others don’t? I need more answers. Honestly, towards the last 60 pages or so, I thought we were going to get some answers. Instead, once I hit the last page of the book my exact response was, “Is this a series and nobody told me, because I feel like I missed half of the story?”
I did really love the writing though. I thought that Walker was able to convey a very dream-like feel to the entire story. I didn’t realize it until I finished reading the book, but I felt like I was in a foggy dream state, which I think was a direct result of the way that Walker writes.
Overall, I’d give this book 3 stars. I wish the characters and the storyline had been a little more flushed out. I would have given this 2 stars save for the thought provoking nature of the book and Walker’s pristine wording. Maybe if I hadn’t heard so much hype around the book I would have liked it better or maybe the lack of purpose and resolution in the story is what did it for me. Either way, it’s a good story but not something that would appear on any of my ‘top read’ lists. I also wouldn’t necessary recommend it to others either. But if you’d like to read it, get it HERE.
Have you read The Dreamers? Was it just too overhyped? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!