Author: Lindsay Smith
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Published By: Roaring Brook Press
Source: ARC from Publisher
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Rating: 3 out of 5
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 was so excited to read Dreamstrider because the concept of the story intrigued me, and well, look at the cover?! Isn’t it beautiful? I was hoping the story would be just as captivating as the cover, but sadly it fell a little flat for me. Dreamstrider is a very complex book that I both liked and disliked. Let me get into detail as to why I did not care for the book.
WHAT I DISLIKED
From the start there was no sense of back story, therefore leading straight into the present, which lead to a very confusing beginning. Right away, Livia, the main character is thrust into enemy territory as a Dreamstrider. She and her allies had to get information as to how the enemies were trying to invade them. With all the talk of different unique names, and what they were talking about, I did not understand a thing. In a book I need to understand at least why they are considered enemies, or at least more background information on both kingdoms, but I got none of that. Having a whole bunch of info dump thrust on me gives me a headache and has me lose interest in the story.
Then there was the plot itself. While the story slowed down to introduce characters and the different lands, it became at times very boring. I’m not sure if it was because there was so much information to take in, but I felt the story slow down a great deal. There was no excitable moments for me and I felt myself begin to dwindle or think of other things that were not related to the book.
The other part I did not really care for was the main character herself, Livia. I did not hate Livia, I thought she was good, but I felt that she wasn’t a strong enough M.C. for me to fully invest and care for. She always doubted herself and made weak decisions because she could never trust in herself that she was good enough. I get that she’s just trying to get by in the world by just living, but I wish she had more courage and determination to fight for what was rightfully hers. Livia only became stronger towards the end and that might have been a little too late for me.
WHAT I LIKED
I loved the concept of dreamstriding. It was so unique, a bit creepy and different and left me wanting to know more about it. How would you feel if you could go into someone else’s body while they are sleeping and take total control of their body? She can walk and talk like them. She can even gather bits of information from them while they are sleeping so as to not cause suspicion from others. It’s fascinating, yet totally creepy because I would never want that done to me.
The other part that kept me interested in the story was the dream world, Oneiros. When Livia needed to meditate or dreamstride, she went into Oneiros. It was like a completely different world because when they slept, the people’s souls went into Oneiros. For those people that are not like Livia, they were an animal or an elemental of some sort. They kind of became their own spirit animal! I thought that was very interesting. Livia and the high priests on the other hand were themselves and could make their land the way they wanted. There was so much more to the dream world that I wanted to know about, and hopefully if there’s a sequel, there will be more parts in Oneiros.
Overall, I felt that this was a promising beginning to a series. There is so much that needs to be answered still. The ending really caught my attention, bringing me back to the book to finish it. I felt Livia grew as a character, and I feel she could do a lot more as a dreamstrider to protect her land, Barstadt. I would still recommend this to anyone who likes reading fantasy type stories. It does have its flaws, but the unique plots is what makes it interesting to read.
**Thank you to the publisher for providing me an arc in exchange for an honest review.**