“The Dreamers” by Karen Thompson Walker BOOK REVIEW

The Dreamers

Year of Publication Date: 2019

Publisher: Random House

ISBN: 9780812994162

Genre: Science Fiction

Strong Point: The eerie-like feeling the writer transmits to the reader with her elegant prose.

Weak Point: I didn’t feel very connected with the majority of the characters. The ending feels quite rushed.

Books on Tour Rating: Books on Tour LogoBooks on Tour Logo(3/5)

Goodreads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.66/5)

Read book blurb here


This review contains spoilers!!!

“THE DREAMERS”

“That night, the blind man dreamt that he was blind”.

A book that starts with a quote from one of my favourite books by José Saramago cannot be bad. And it is true. It is not a bad book. It is also not one of the best books I have read.

However, I really did enjoy this book, especially the beginning. “The Dreamers” depicts a similar situation as the book from Saramago, “Blindness”, but instead of people getting blind, this one shows people falling asleep and “dreaming”.

I like how the different stories of the characters are interwoven and connected and how the author presents them little by little, making a big puzzle with them.

Throughout the book, the author plays continuously with the ideas of “dreaming” and “waking up” as metaphors, which I really enjoyed.

The chaos that follows in the country when more and more people fall asleep and how the authorities handled it is quite interesting to read, especially what happened with the couple who has the baby and the girl who is asleep and pregnant at the same time.

At the end of the story, you are left with no explanation of the cause of this “infection” which is ok (although not ideal) as the important thing is not that but the experience of these characters and the teaching that we can extract from “dreaming” and “waking up”.

THE DREAMS

One characteristic I really enjoyed reading about is the dreams that the people who fall asleep have. Some of them dream about their pasts and some others about their “futures”, even whole lives, only to realize when they wake up that everything they thought it had happened in their lives was just a dream.

Sometimes when you wake up from a dream, you realize that your life in the dream was much better than it is in reality. This can cause a lot of pain and frustration, of course. But we also have to understand that having dreams is anyway something good, as they can lead us to a better life, one similar to the one we had dreamt about.

CHARACTERS

There is a great variety of characters. As I said before, they are all, in various degrees, related to each other.

However, as there are so many, you don’t really get to know all of them quite well. You don’t know their full story, only a small part of it. In spite of that, the author gives the reader the right amount of information in order to understand what is going on, although that understanding of the situation is not completely achieved at the end of the book.

FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT “THE DREAMERS”

If I must be 100% sincere (which I am) I would have loved to have a little bit of explanation of the reason why this happened, why people start to fall asleep and don’t wake up until some time has passed.

In addition to this, I cannot completely consider “The Dreamers” as belonging to the science fiction genre. It has too many elements which we find in daily life. There is not enough “weirdness”. Apart from the falling asleep and don’t waking up, there are not enough science fiction details to consider it so. 

Furthermore, the book speaks about a virus and a quarantine which, unfortunately, sounds quite similar to what we have been experiencing this year 2020 and thus. It feels more like a contemporary book.

Other than that, the narrative style of the author is quite elegant and eerie, dream-like (sorry for the pun!). And the plot in itself is quite good, although it is nothing new and innovative. This topic has been already covered in several, quite successful books. Plus the ending is quite rushed and a little bit chaotic…

This plot reminded me of a shocking case that I first knew of in a photo exhibition in Hamburg. The picture showed a girl asleep in bed. Its caption explained that the girl in the photo was suffering of something that is called “Resignation Syndrome” which affects only children of asylum-seekers. 

These children stop eating, walking and speaking. They only lay in bed with their eyes closed, seemingly sleeping. It sounds very similar to what the book is depicting.

However, since I learned about this illness, I cannot stop thinking about it, and about the dystopian situation narrated in “The Dreamers”, and how both sound so similar. Sadly, most of the times, truth is stranger that fiction. 


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