Sara's Reviews > Strange the Dreamer

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
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Gosh, I wish I could write fantasy like Laini Taylor. Her worlds are so imaginative and complex, her characters appealing and well-rounded, her plots a carefully crafted and devastating blend of light and darkness, hope and heartbreak. And her writing. Sweet blood candy, her writing is out of this world. Full of imagery, luscious detail, and evocative word choices. Every time I read one of Laini's stories, even if I have some quibbles about it, I'm reminded of why I admire her work so much.

STRANGE THE DREAMER is many things. It's a tale of lost cities and a centuries-old clash between gods, their half-blood children, and humankind. It's an ode to libraries, alchemy, and quest stories. It blurs the already-faint lines between dreams, nightmares, and reality. It takes themes such as war, love, knowledge versus power, self-discovery, and "what makes a monster?", then stirs them into an otherworldly concoction with hints of melancholy as blue as the godspawns' skin and the gold shimmer of wonder. It's witty and aching and frightening in parts; and when you finish reading it, part of you doesn't want to leave its absorbing world... and part of you wonders how our poor heroes will find any resolution to their conflicts in next year's sequel.

I'm not sure if I have a favorite character from STRANGE THE DREAMER. There's Lazlo, the titular dreamer, who's kind, intelligent, eager to learn, happy to help, and desperate to know where he came from. And there's Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares, a half-human girl who screams moths at night and is haunted by other people's horrors when she sleeps. And Eril-Fane, the Godslayer who saved the city of Weep fifteen years earlier but is tormented and conflicted by his past. And the other godspawn like the sweet "gardener" Sparrow, the impulsive and (literally) ignitable Ruby, the sobering rain-gatherer Feral... and Minya. The oldest of the godspawn yet trapped in a 6-year-old's body, she binds the ghosts of Weep to do her bidding - and while it's easy to understand her desire to protect her remaining kindred, her hunger for revenge against the city's humans is so relentless and absolute that it chills you to the bone.

What's keeping me from giving STRANGE THE DREAMER 5 stars, though, is the "book of two halves" dilemma. The first half is stunning and well-paced as it introduces readers to her invented world and her large cast of characters. But the second half, despite the gorgeous dream sequence interactions between Lazlo and Sarai, was a bit of a slog. It's overwritten and much too slow, which unfortunately weakens what should be a devastating ending.

In short, I didn't love STRANGE THE DREAMER as much as other Laini Taylor books like DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE or BLACKBRINGER. Yet it's still victorious in showing what a whimsical and incomparable talent Laini Taylor is and the fresh air she continues to inject into YA fantasy. No other writer in that genre is quite like her, and that's why I continue to marvel at her work, one book after the next.
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Reading Progress

December 11, 2015 – Shelved
December 11, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
April 11, 2017 – Started Reading
April 11, 2017 –
page 115
21.46% "I love Laini Taylor's imagination. Nuff said."
April 13, 2017 –
page 192
35.82% "Weep sounds like a beautiful yet terrible place to be. :S"
April 14, 2017 –
page 270
50.37% "One of my favorite themes of all time is "humanity vs monster." In other words, what makes someone "human" or humane / compassionate? And what makes another monstrous in nature? That theme is definitely developing in this story. :)"
April 15, 2017 –
page 270
50.37% "I guess I'm still re-adjusting to Eastern time after my Iceland trip... because I'm so tired at night, I can barely get much reading before falling asleep. :S"
April 15, 2017 –
page 299
55.78% "I guess I'm still adjusting back to my time zone after coming home from Iceland. I'm so tired before going to bed that I can barely get much reading done. :S"
April 17, 2017 –
page 318
59.33% "Have I mentioned how much I love Laini Taylor's worldbuilding? Also, the "communicating in dreams" idea is pretty cool."
April 18, 2017 –
page 438
81.72% "Oh no. No no no no no. If what I think is going to happen actually happens by the end... :'("
April 19, 2017 –
page 496
92.54% "Should be able to finish this tonight. And I have a feeling it might shred my heart to pieces in the process. :S"
April 20, 2017 – Shelved as: fantasy
April 20, 2017 – Shelved as: magic-system-love
April 20, 2017 – Shelved as: multiple-povs
April 20, 2017 – Shelved as: prose-love
April 20, 2017 – Shelved as: settings-i-wish-i-could-visit
April 20, 2017 – Shelved as: world-building-love
April 20, 2017 – Shelved as: young-adult
April 20, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by J.T. (new) - added it

J.T. SHEA Sounds like another for my To Be Read pile, which will soon reach the ceiling!

Sara J.T. wrote: "Sounds like another for my To Be Read pile, which will soon reach the ceiling!"

Ha ha, I know that feeling. ;)

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