Sunday, June 23, 2019

Rapid Reaction: Strange the Dreamer

Have you ever finished a book and thought: What did I just read? This was good, bad, beautiful, and frustrating! What kind of an ending was that? You're kidding I have to read book 2 to find out what happens?!?

I had all of those thoughts after I finished Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. I finished the book earlier this afternoon and I thought it's best to just get my thoughts out. So this isn't meant to be a traditional review and more of my stream of consciousness on a book I just finished.

I tried reading this book last fall but I couldn't get beyond page 25. Fantasy books are just not in my wheelhouse, I prefer to read books that have some basis in reality. And this book is heavy on the fantasy and my brain just couldn't handle it the first time around. But I worried that maybe I was being a bit of a book snob, so last month I picked this back up again -- determined to read to this from end to end.

I did it! I finished and yet I'm not sure I fully understood everything.

Lazlo Strange is an orphan who was raised by monks in the city of Zosma. He spends most of his time buried in the library, reading about a city called Weep. A city that may or may not exist. Lazlo has so immersed himself in the world of Weep, that he garners the nickname "Strange the Dreamer." Lazlo knows more about Weep than anyone else; he knows their language and history. But what's the use of knowing all that if Weep might not exist? But of course all of this knowledge will come in handy -- otherwise there would be no point to this book.

The Godslayer a.k.a Eril-Fane (honestly what's up this name) comes to Zosma, seeking the greatest minds in various areas of expertise. He needs help freeing Weep from a literal fortress that hovers above the city. This fortress, known as the citadel, is built of a special metal called mesarthium. It's a material that's so strong it can't be cut. But Eril-Fane is determined to build a special team to help him free Weep from darkness. A lowly librarian like Lazlo is not supposed to be among the ranks, but manages to talk his way onto the team. This caravan of the greatest minds of Zosma heads on the months-long journey to Weep.

Meanwhile, in the citadel the survivors of the massacre in Weep know their time might be up. There might finally be a war between the citadel and the citizens of Weep. One of those survivors is Sarai and she has a special gift. She can enter the dreams of the people of Weep, causing them nightmares. When Sarai enters Lazlo's mind, it's not a nightmare but a dream. The two have an instant connection and a desire to resolve the conflict between the citadel and Weep peacefully.

Ok that's the easiest way I can explain everything I just read. And even then I'm sure I missed some plot points. I took notes, I underlined text, and I put post-it flags all over this book. I don't do that with everything I read, just the ones that make me feel like I'm reading a textbook or I'm learning another language.

However, I do have to admit Laini Taylor's writing is very beautiful and poetic.

"She asked in a hesitant whisper, 'Do you still think I'm a . . . a singularly unhorrible demon?'

'No,' he said smiling. 'I think you're a fairy tale. I think you're magical, and brave, and exquisite. And . . .' His voice grew bashful. Only in a dream could he be so bold and speak such words. 'I hope you'll let me be in your story.' " {Pg. 380}

There are many passages that left me in awe of her writing, but it gets to be a bit much. A bit repetitive. And this book is 532 pages, so yeah one can only take so much flowery writing. I think this book could have benefited by being about 100 or so pages shorter. It would have made for a faster and tighter story. I also hate insta-love!!! I hate it in any genre!! Lazlo and Sarai see each other briefly in a dream and already know the other is different. They're unique. They're unlike anyone they've ever met before. That is such a tired trope. I wish authors would stay away from it. 

All that said, of course I'm going to buy the sequel (and I hope final book) Muse of Nightmares. The book ended it such a way, that the only feeling one is left with is: I have to know how it ends!

Rating: Give it a try

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