Kal ★ Reader Voracious's Reviews > Anna Undreaming

Anna Undreaming by Thomas  Welsh
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it was amazing
bookshelves: from-author, fantasy, new-adult, urban-fantasy

UPDATE: I enjoyed this book so much that I bought myself a Kindle copy so I can re-read it on the go when the mood strikes me! I'm also doing a flash giveaway on Twitter for three copies, more info & enter here!
"A spark caught, and she felt something awaken. Something angry and defiant."
This is a book that has haunted me and my physical TBR shelf since May 2018. Anna Undreaming was the first physical book that I was sent for review and one that I have been really excited to read, but mood reading stinks. I knew in my bones that this was a story that I would absolutely love, and wanted to wait for the absolute right time to read it... and it just so happens that the right time was eight months later. I'm sorry Thomas, but this book was definitely worth the wait!
"Anna... in a world of dwindling light, you're a bonfire in the night."
This book is beautifully written and fast paced, an effortless and engaging read right from the first pages. Welsh has crafted a magical feeling world just behind the veil of our understanding, a world ruled where monsters roam.
"People experience Hazes... they don't see them. The mind rationalizes it all away."
Hazes are described as part of our world (I kind of think of them like the Fade in the Dragon Age games) and they are created, ruled, and maintained by Dreamers. Anything goes within their Hazes and "within the Haze the dreamer is God and can dream anything into reality. They can change the rules of existence, and they can make and unmake life itself." Think of it like Inception.

Our protagonist is Anna, a 20-something graduate who has recently experienced the death of her husband. At the beginning of the book, Anna and her friend Sue are drugged at a bar she is at by the guy her friend is with "to loosen her up." Lovely. (As a note, you can skip the first chapter to avoid the bar scene and that misogynistic pig Dean.) The side effect of this special drink is that she becomes aware of the Hazes, and her life will never be the same. Turns out she is a rare foil to the power of the Dreamers; as an Undreamer she has the ability to destroy the Hazes, and there is a faction of Dreamers called the Doxa that will stop at nothing to destroy her before she realizes her power.

The entire book is a masterful exposition into a new world just beyond the understanding of our reality. There is a lot of worldbuilding but it never once felt like an infodump. The way that Welsh unveiled the intricacies of the new world that Anna's found herself in is through a mentor, Teej. We are learning about everything alongside Anna, with information doled out as it is necessary in the plot. I never felt overloaded or confused, but definitely was eager to learn more.

We never really learn Anna's age, but early on we find out that she was Anna is a recent graduate, who wrote a thesis called "Absurdism and Camus." I would definitely love to talk to her at a party, because philosophy and I are like best friends and no one wants to talk Nietzsche to me.
"... that darkness you feel. It doesn't go away, but eventually, you see it as just a different kind of light."
Anna Undreaming is definitely a plot driven narrative. There are glimpses about the pasts of Anna and Teej, but I didn't really learn a lot about the characters in this book. Somehow despite this there is excellent character development, which is honestly masterful. Anna and Teej's relationship evolves from skepticism to loyalty, and their interactions all felt realistic to me. I fell and rooted for them, and was intrigued by the secrets of the past that was alluded to throughout the story. I really enjoy this narrative technique when it is done well, like the narrator is "the characters have a secret, and if you keep reading I will tell you what it is." The setting and world of Anna Undreaming is almost a character itself, and with all the necessary worldbuilding done, I am really excited for the rest of the trilogy.

The concepts of light and darkness run throughout the book. Anna is referred to as a beacon of light in a dark world, and Anna has been succumbing to the darkness of her own despair. One of the Hazes that Anna is brought into brings the darkness and despair in a place where everyone eventually drowns themselves. I found it to be a beautiful metaphor for her own grief, and as a person who personally suffers from depression and suicidal ideation I appreciated her falling literally into the depths of her despair but still finding the will to fight. I absolutely loved the ending so much, but I mention it because I want you to be aware and in the right headspace before picking this book up.

This book reads like a Young Adult fantasy in style, but actually features a new adult aged protagonist and other adult characters. If you've been looking for a YA style fantasy with NA aged characters... READ THIS BOOK. I know the NA classification has come to largely encompass a specific genre, but this is a true gem and what I want to see published more often. This book also has crossover appeal with teenagers.

This book is like reading a dream. It has hints of Alice in Wonderland, and I felt like both Anna and I went through the looking glass into a fantastical Inception-like world. The book is fast-paced and captivating, and I really enjoyed it.

Overall this is an incredible story written in the young adult fantasy style but with new adult aged characters! I was immersed into the story with its  Don't sleep on this book and trilogy, friends! Anna Undreaming was published in March 2018 and has flown under the radar with just 26 reviews on Goodreads as of my writing this review (with a 4.31 average on 72 ratings). The second book in the Metiks Fade Trilogy, Anna and the Moonlight Road, will be released this Spring by Owl Hollow Press and I cannot wait!

Many thanks to the author and his publicist for sending me a finished copy for review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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Reading Progress

May 8, 2018 – Shelved
May 8, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
May 16, 2018 – Shelved as: from-author
February 11, 2019 – Started Reading
February 11, 2019 –
page 106
28.8% "fast paced and captivating, with a hint of a monster-inception world. I love it"
February 12, 2019 –
page 164
44.57% "If you've been looking for a YA style fantasy with NA aged characters... READ THIS BOOK"
February 12, 2019 –
page 188
51.09% "😭😭😭
I saw this coming but my soul still hurts"
February 13, 2019 –
page 259
70.38% "Peter is going to be a problem. I'm so intrigued by the Apoth and everything unraveling."
February 13, 2019 –
page 306
83.15% "Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Gotta love Nietzsche"
February 13, 2019 –
page 357
97.01% "Beautiful, falling into depths of despair but finding the will to fight. Loved ending

Def plot driven, I don't really know much about the characters. But excited for the rest of the trilogy"
February 13, 2019 – Finished Reading
February 19, 2019 – Shelved as: fantasy
February 19, 2019 – Shelved as: new-adult
February 20, 2019 – Shelved as: urban-fantasy

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