Sunday, March 11, 2018

Review Sunday: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor


Strange the Dreamer #1

Blurb:
"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."



Review:
This was so, so lovely I couldn't help but read it all in one sitting.  It's so classically Laini Taylor and I loved it.  This is going to be another one of those 'I loved it so much that I have basically nothing to say' reviews!

1.  The characters.  I've read Taylor's other popular series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and the same sort of principle applies there.  She has this amazing ability to build truly complex characters.  No one in this book is perfect and those that are seen as heroes have committed their own personal horrors but they aren't shamed in any way.  Instead, the characters are whole and they try to muddle through their own troubles.  Even the ultimate 'villain' isn't really a villain once you look at their circumstances.  One thing that really bothers me, though, is that despite Laini Taylor's ability to make me really understand the characters, I didn't really get attached to any of them and I didn't really feel too much of a blow at the end.

“You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable," she pleaded. "Something beautiful and full of monsters." “Beautiful and full of monsters?" “All the best stories are.”

2.  The world and it's background.  I also loved getting to know this world, especially the city of Weep (or the Unseen City).  Like with the characters, there's a complex backstory going on behind the scenes that influences everything and it really is a mystery.  The world is just so richly painted and real.  Weep has been isolated for 200 years but suddenly, 15 years ago, everything changed and Lazlo has set out to witness the change <spoiler, highlight to view> (anyone else think that Lazlo is one of the 'missing' children???).  I was a bit worried that I'd be walking into an info dump at the beginning because it started to shape up like that but that feeling quickly dissipated.

“The library knows its own mind... When it steals a boy, we let it keep him.”

3.  The plot.  This book is definitely not action-packed.  The whole first half is almost all character driven and it's only in the last 170 pages that things really start to become action driven.  Honestly, I loved that the author chose to do this because it's so important to build up the atmosphere of the world in fantasy and that was certainly achieved.

“Like nightmares, dreams were insidious things, and didn't like being locked away.”

4.  The writing.  This is my absolute favorite part of the whole reading experience!  This book is so amazingly quotable, I have about 30 quotes written in my notebook already.  Laini Taylor's writing is just so lush and lyrical and fantastical and beautiful.  Even if you're someone who didn't enjoy the story, I can't imagine you wouldn't enjoy the feeling of speaking the sentences out loud.  Maybe this is a bookworm thing, but there are so many paragraphs that just sounds beautiful when you read them aloud.

“Good people do all the things bad people do, Lazlo. It's just that when they do them, they call it justice.”

5.  The romance.  At first, I wasn't really sure about this.  There definitely isn't instalove, but I found it to be very quick in terms of it's development.  Still, the two are sweet together and I enjoyed reading their scenes.  Also, I was pleased to see f/f romance representation but I wish it would have gotten more page time.

“The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around”

The Final Verdict:
With lush writing, complex characters, and a beautifully vivid world, this is one of my favorite 2018 reads so far!
4.5 stars

12 comments:

  1. Great review! I've read Daughter of Smoke and Bone and didn't like it at all, so I'm not sure I'd enjoy this book either :( But I do love complicated characters. And the atmosphere sounds amazing.
    Glad you loved it!

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    1. Yeah, as much as I want to say you'd love it, if you didn't like DoSaB, I'm not sure you'd like this. They run in the same kind of vein (writing and plot-wise). Maybe it'll be something you'll flip through in a couple years :) Thanks for stopping by, Amy!

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  2. I can’t decide if I should read this one. I wasn’t a huge fan of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. What do you think? Should I try it?

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    1. Hmmmm I'd say if you weren't a big fan of DoSaB, I don't think this one would be your absolute favorite. They're pretty similar in terms of their worlds, characters, and so on so it's probably not the best priority book for you. It might be one of those books that you flip through if you see it in a library or bookstore though! Thanks for stopping by, Jenny!

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  3. I've seen Laini Taylor praised before, but haven't read any of her books because I thought they might be too YA. From this review, I wonder if I have misjudged? Strange The Dreamer sounds like a beautifully rich novel

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    1. Her books are very YA from a main character age and romance standpoint but I do think you'd enjoy her writing style! The main themes are classically YA (finding yourself and coming to terms with the actions of your elders) as well. Maybe it'd be a good book to flip through the next time you see it on a bookstore or library shelf for you to see whether it's a good fit for you without committing hours of your time! Thanks for stopping by, Stephanie!

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  4. I so need to read this book! It's been on my TBR because I know how many people really love it, and I can't wait to eventually read it for myself. I really like the sound of such brilliant world building and amazing characters. Great review =)

    My recent post: http://oliviascatastrophe.com/2018/03/february-wrap-up-2018/

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    1. I hope you love it as much as I did when you get around to it! I was also really drawn in by everyone raving about basically everything in it :) Thanks for stopping by, Olivia!

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  5. I really want to read this and am glad you enjoyed it! I have Daughter of Smoke and Bone on my TBR shelf. I have yet to read anything by this author. I can't wait to dive into her work.

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    1. I hope you love both this and DoSaB! From what I've been hearing from other people, you either love them or you hate them. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, Wendy!

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  6. Ahhh, I really enjoyed this one as well. In fact, I really must check out when the sequel is coming out!

    And yes, the world was exceptionally complex! I need to reread because I can't remember about the missing children!!! Oops!

    I shipped the romance hard actually - so it was a pretty devastating ending for me.... :( I can't wait to know more though.

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    1. I'm so excited for Muse of Nightmares too! I need it asap!

      It was kind of the same for me except there was this inkling at the back of my mind that was like 'this isn't the end... this is only book one'. Kind of like ACOWAR, come to think of it :) Thanks for stopping by, Di!

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