Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on March 28, 2017
Series: Strange the Dreamer, #1
Genre(s): fiction, fantasy, young adult
Format & Length: e-book, 528
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The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.
What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?
The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?
Welcome to Weep.
I’ve heard plenty of hype for Strange the Dreamer and have had it on my wishlist for some time now. After finally picking it up and reading it, I have to say this is a case where a book lives up to its hype.
“Names may be lost or forgotten. No one knew that better than Lazlo Strange. He’d had another name first, but it had died like a song with no one left to sing it.”
If you’ve been around here for a while, you may have seen me mention that I tend to prefer quick, snappy writing over more flowery prose. But that was not the case for this book. Laini Taylor’s writing style is elaborate and eloquent, and it worked for me. After considering it for a while, I think there are two reasons for this. First, the language and phrasing chosen helped each sentence to make an impact. And second, it helped draw a vivid picture of the fantasy world in which this book takes place. And if there’s anything I love in a book as much as or even more than a fast paced plot is a world that is well thought out, complex, and atmospheric so I can imagine myself within its pages.
While I wouldn’t exactly call Strange the Dreamer fast paced, it does have a plot that is full of twists and turns. The more I was drawn into the book, the easier it became to see the various twists coming, but it was still delightful to watch them unfold. All of the characters were fully fleshed out and interesting; not one felt stereotypical or flat. And this book used its characters within its fantastical world to address some big themes, most obviously that of race and how we treat others simply based on their skin color.
“Good people do all the things bad people do, Lazlo. It’s just that when they do them, they call it justice.”
Despite the slower pace through the majority of Strange the Dreamer, I devoured this book. And the ending left me determined to pick up its sequel as soon as possible. I realize the writing style may not work for everyone, but I’d urge just about anyone to at least give it a shot. Highly recommended.