*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: The Dreamers
Author: Karen Thompson Walker
Publisher: Bond Street Books
Publication Date: January 15, 2019
Synopsis from Goodreads:
A college girl tells her friends that she’s feeling strangely tired. The next morning, when they find her in bed, she is still breathing–but she won’t wake up. Within a few days, another student, down the hallway, won’t wake up. As the sleeping sickness spreads, the town is turned upside down. We meet Ben and Annie, a young couple determined to keep their newborn baby safe; Sara and Libby, whose survivalist father has long prepared for disaster; Mei and Matthew, and other college students. A quarantine is established, the national guard is summoned. Yet, those who have fallen asleep are showing unusual patterns of brain activity. More than has ever been recorded in any brain–asleep or awake. They are dreaming–but of what?
It’s been a while since I’ve read a speculative book about an epidemic. The Dreamers is an intense story about a town in California taken down by an uncontrollable, unknown illness. As students and then townspeople begin to succumb to the sickness that leaves them asleep with no evidence of waking up again, fear mounts and tensions run high. The novel follows the stories of both victims and survivors. You never know who’s going to be affected and how things are going to change as the story progresses. Fear runs deep throughout this book. It seems as though no one is safe. The townsfolk don’t know how to protect themselves, their friends, their children, or each other.
Walker’s writing is almost dream-like in itself. The reader never really knows what’s real and what is a dream. The prose moves in and out of present time, moving between the present, the future, and perhaps even the past, encompassing the reader in a dream like state as they try to comprehend what is happening to the victims. The narrators are all unreliable as the reader cannot trust whether or not they’ve entered into the alternate reality of the dreams. The characters are forced to question how they’d react in a crisis–provoking the reader to think similarly. What is ethical and good? Can you be truly ethical when forced to choose between saving one life or another?
This book had me hooked. I had to know more and to find out how this story would end. The writing is smooth and inviting. The story is gripping. I would highly recommend. It’s an absolute page-turner.