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The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker


Hubby has been sick with proper flu for the last 2 weeks so falling into a deep sleep which no-one can wake you from almost sounds like heaven to me.

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
Published in: 2019
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★]

This ARC was provided by Simon and Schuster UK Fiction (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis from Goodreads: In an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a freshman girl stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics who carry her away, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. Then a second girl falls asleep, and then another, and panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. As the number of cases multiplies, classes are canceled, and stores begin to run out of supplies. A quarantine is established. The National Guard is summoned.

Mei, an outsider in the cliquish hierarchy of dorm life, finds herself thrust together with an eccentric, idealistic classmate. Two visiting professors try to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. A father succumbs to the illness, leaving his daughters to fend for themselves. And at the hospital, a new life grows within a college girl, unbeknownst to her—even as she sleeps. A psychiatrist, summoned from Los Angeles, attempts to make sense of the illness as it spreads through the town. Those infected are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, more than has ever been recorded. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?

Book Worm’s Thoughts: I loved the idea of this new kind of epidemic (and not just because I love sleep) to me the randomness of a whole population falling asleep but dreaming intent dreams sounded intriguing to say the least. Unfortunately the actual story didn’t live up to the hype because at the end of the day nothing actually happened.

We follow several sets of characters throughout the epidemic and some fare better than others. The problem was I never really felt connected to any of them. For me the most intriguing characters were the survivor father and his daughters with the supplies in the cellar and an already healthy fear of the apocalypse.

Without wanting to give away any spoilers while they are asleep the Dreamers are dreaming of their own lives, some dream of the past, some dream of the future and some dream of what might have been.

The most interesting part of the narrative for me was the response of the government in cutting the town of from the rest of the world and the philosophical debates among certain students about morality and should you always sacrifice the few for the sake of the many.

The ending was bizarre to say the least and actually resolved nothing so I am still left wondering what did I just read?

Who would like this? This is a difficult one for me I have seen reviews from people who love the story and just because I didn’t particulary engage with it doesn’t mean others won’t. As a guide I would say this is aimed at people who appreciate character over action and who enjoy science fiction.

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. I felt much the way you did – there was so much jumping around with the characters, and I didn’t like that the author never got into any specifics about the epidemic. Also the story sometimes went in random directions that were never followed up on. I did like the character of Mei.


    February 4, 2019
  2. I felt exactly like you. I saw someone mention the end was satisfying. Well, if you like books that end ambiguously.


    February 16, 2019

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