THE DREAMERS *****
KAREN THOMPSON WALKER
It starts with one college student, a girl who wont wake up no matter how hard you try and spreads through a city. Their eyes all move in REM sleep – they are dreaming but what about and will they ever wake up?
The Dreamers reminded me very much of the first half of Stephen King’s The Stand – certainly not a bad thing as it is one of my favourite books! I really enjoy the suspense of getting to know certain characters really well and then having them taken by the sickness. I also really liked how you can see the virus spreading from contact of individual characters which made every interaction feel sinister in a way. The chapters switch perspective to a few key, very different characters in the town which gives you a nice overall view of the outbreak. There were a few times I felt like screaming at the characters for making stupid decisions but they were all actually probably quite realistic reactions to the events. In the end the story is much more character-driven than an overarching ‘apocalypse’ style story which was refreshing.
Karen Thompson Walker’s writing style is intelligent and beautiful – there’s references in there to science, philosophy, history and politics which meld seamlessly into the narrative. The last third of the book pulled me in so much I couldn’t go to sleep until I’d finished it – and then I found it hard to sleep afterwards just in case I didn’t wake up again! I was a little worried as I watched the percentages tick down to the end about how the story would wrap itself up but I really enjoyed the ending – it’s a good stand alone story which I always appreciate! I also liked that some things were kept a mystery even at the very end which leads you to question and keeps the story in your mind long after you’ve put the book down.
Overall The Dreamers is a beautifully sinister read. Thank you to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster UK and Scribner for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.