Strange the Dreamer
by Laini Taylor
Goodreads: See here
Page count: 536
YOUNG ADULT / FANTASY / ROMANCE
Plot at a Glance:
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
Why it took me so long to wrangle myself a copy of this book and give it a read, I’ll never know! How many years of my life have I wasted not reading Laini Taylor’s writing? Her command of the written word makes her far and away one of the most talented voices in the YA genre, in my opinion.
I feel like so much prose falls by the wayside in YA in favor of constant plot momentum from one event to the next. Taylor takes a more restrained approach, choosing to slip into the beauty of her created world with passages full of prose that develops and showcases it in full.
I seriously loved so much about this. Dreams are a really difficult thing to incorporate effectively into a work of fiction. There are so many rules:
- don’t have a dream impact plot
- don’t have a dream give things away to the reader or the characters
- don’t have dream sequences overwhelm plot movement.
The basic consensus I’ve seen around dreams is to work conservatively with them in fiction. They should inform on the plot, but not impact its direction.
Taylor threw all those rules straight out the window before she started this novel. Dreams are the life and breath of this novel – and I absolutely adore the way they were incorporated here. Developing a magical reason for including dreams as much as she did was a truly magnificent idea, and Taylor’s equally dreamy and descriptive narrative voice only adds to the dreamlike quality that permeates much of the story.
Serai and Lazlo were such wonderful characters! They’re both so well conceptualized and developed, and I love the way that they change and grow over the course of the story. It moves a tad slowly, and moves in directions that I admit I mostly saw coming, but by the last hundred pages or so I knew that I was obsessed with both of them and couldn’t wait to see where their story goes in the next installments in the series. Most of the surrounding characters, especially around Lazlo, are less memorable, but I can see ways in which they might blossom and grow just like the central characters in the next book.
My one complaint is that the lack of a central antagonist in this book sort of slowed down the plot. Taylor places as heavy an emphasis on romance and the exploration of themes like love and lust, as she does on dreams. At one point it seemed like the story was alternating between romance scenes set within dreams and without, meanwhile I was languishing a bit and becoming more eager for the plot to advance past those scenes.
The hook for the next book is phenomenal though, and judging by it, I feel like most of that complaint are probably going to be resolved in the sequel.
Ultimately though, this book was the perfect read for me over the last couple weeks. I was extremely busy in my real life, but the moments when I got to sit down with this book became a sort of treat for me at the end of the day – one I looked forward to more and more the deeper I got into this book.
I can’t wait for book 2!
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟= 4.5/5 stars
This was a buddy read with the wonderful and talented reviewer Chelsea from The Suspense is Thrilling Me. As they say in the Golden Girls, ‘thank you for being a friend!’
What did you think of this book? What other current authors do you feel are the pinnacle of talent for their genre?