By Lindsay Smith
Published on October 6, 2015
Published by: Roaring Book Press
Published by: Roaring Book Press
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 neighborhing 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.
Let me get right down to it... I had a really hard time getting into this book, and it lasted for a good portion of the story. Not until the last 75 pages was I truly invested in the outcome. Yet, I am still glad that I "muscled" through it, because the ending was a beautiful thing.
I honestly don't even know where to begin when it comes to describing the plot of this story, or the world-building and its many ins and outs. Lindsay Smith created a very intriguing world, and the idea of the Dreamer and Nightmare were fascinating. The world that these characters live in is a different world all together from our own, and it was interesting learning about the different customs, and beliefs, of each people. I was thoroughly impressed with the authors imagination, and I genuinely wish that I could have been more invested in the story from the beginning.
Again, with the plot, it is full of so many little intricate details that I would fail in any explanation I might try to give. Livia is a former Tunneler who had big dreams. But the life of a Tunneler is a life devoid of hope, just trying to scrape by for yourself and your family, barely living. But Livia found a way out of the tunnels, through those very dreams. She became the Dreamstrider. Her, and a small team of operatives, use their skills to infiltrate gangs and other criminal activities, and help the Ministry of Barstadt bring about justice.
Livia is the only dreamstrider, and she has no faith in herself at all. There was an incident that happened, early in her operations, that left her broken, ashamed and feeling unworthy. Others within the ministry never let her forget it either, with their looks and mistrust. But because she is the only one who can Stride, they must use her. And the next mission they are taking on is as important as it gets.
My biggest issue with this story is the pacing. It is paced very slowly, maybe in order to help the reader grasp all of the intricacies of the world. I think the slower pacing actually made it harder to grasp, because my attention waned from the book so often. I really loved the ideas in the story, I just feel like the execution was off, for my taste. The characters are three-dimensional, and for the most part like-able and relatable. I liked Livia, for the most part. She is incredibly loyal to her city, and her belief in the Dreamer, and she fights to do what is right for the people around her. She is definitely lacking in confidence, but I think that played well into the wrap up of the story. Brandt, the love interest, was a little bland, but I enjoyed them together as a team. The secondary characters all had their places in the story, and fit well.
Finally, the plot was a good one, I just feel like the pacing issues killed it. I feel like if the pacing had been a little faster, and the details of the world and the dreamer had been sprinkled throughout the story a bit more, I would have loved this one. The last 75 pages took the action up a notch or seven, and I flew through them in no time. And the ending was truly perfect for the story!
I hate writing less than positive reviews, because I don't ever want to influence someone to NOT read a book. Please, give Dreamstrider a shot. You might just fall in love with it! And Lindsay Smith writes beautifully! I might not personally have loved this one, but I think there will be a lot more people out there that love it than don't!