Google+ Reading Teen: A Creative and Clever Standalone }} DREAMSTRIDER by Lindsay Smith

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Creative and Clever Standalone }} DREAMSTRIDER by Lindsay Smith

Review by Paola
by Lindsay Smith
Age Range: 12 - 18 years
Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (October 6, 2015)
Language: English
Goodreads | Amazon

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 neighboring 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.
Livia is the only dreamstrider in the Barstadt Empire. This basically means that she can take over someone's body while they are asleep and use it to gather information.  She's a spy for the Empire and her ability is so out of control that she is more of a liability than an asset to the team. When enemy plans start to unravel, Livia must face her fears in order to save the dreaming and the waking world. 

I've never had so many mixed emotions while reading a book. Sometimes I would be completely hooked only to lose interest a page later. I really liked it at first, then I didn't, then I liked it a little bit, then I was too bored to continue, and then I picked it up again and really enjoyed the last couple of chapters. Dreamstrider is not a bad book. It is intricate and has quite a bit of unique elements that I found very interesting. I think I couldn't commit to it because I felt confused throughout the book. This might be a bad case of I'm-Bored-Because-I'm-Not-Patient-Enough-To-Wait-For-An-Explanation.  I expected something very fast-paced (it is a spy novel after all) so it took me a while to accept that this had different strengths.  Also, I didn't enjoy the romance. It plays an important part in the book but I didn't connect with it at all. I think the romantic interest took away from Livia's journey and the novel would've been better without it.   

I came very close to walking away from this one many times but I'm glad I didn't.  The world is very interesting and complex. I loved the political undertone and the Thriller/Fantasy/Sci-fi mashup.  The one thing that really stood out is that Livia struggles to live up to her potential.  I'm so sick of main characters that are perfect and comfortable with their abilities. Livia's self-doubt is relatable, which makes her journey very believable. I loved that she has to work very hard to get comfortable with her gift and that her mistakes are as important as her victories. I wish more books would use this formula instead of the one we're used to. 

Overall, Dreamstrider is a shaky ride. If you're looking for a creative and clever standalone then this is the book for you. If you want something a little more action-packed then you might want to skip this one!

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