Author: Laini Taylor
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Format: Hardcover, 532 pages
Publishing Information: March 28th 2017 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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.
When I first heard about Strange the Dreamer, I was immediately intrigued by the name which sounded equal parts enchanting and haunting. And I’m a sucker for foiled book covers! Superficial first impressions aside, this book far surpassed my expectations and I couldn’t recommend it more fondly.
Strange the Dreamer tells the story of Lazlo Strange, an orphan who was raised by no-nonsense monks but has the heart and imagination of a dreamer. As a junior librarian, he lives to lose himself in stories and myths, magic and wonder. The one story he has always been drawn to is that of the illustrious lost city of Weep, a place known only through stories passed down by caravans lucky enough to trade with them. It abruptly closed itself off from the world and has been shrouded in mysteries for the past two hundred years. Lazlo yearns to know the truth of the city and witness it for himself but believes he’ll never get the chance. That is, until the Godslayer of Weep comes to town. He and his band of warriors are searching the world for the brightest minds to bring to Weep in hopes that they can help solve a mysterious problem plaguing the city. Lazlo finally has a way to see his dreams come true and it is more magnificent than anything he has ever known. But he soon discovers more questions than answers, most revolving around the “gods” that once roamed. Even more baffling is the blue-skinned goddess who starts appearing in his dreams, whom he later recognizes as one of the dead gods of Weep. He is drawn to her almost tangible presence in his dreams as much as the mysteries he and his companions were brought to Weep to solve. As Lazlo and his companions slowly uncover the history of Weep’s disappearance from the world and what has haunted its people since, they begin to understand the tragedies that continue to overshadow its beauty.
I am totally in love with Lazlo and how he layers fairytales and myths into his understanding of the world. For him, reality has the potential to be much wilder and more magical than what meets the eye and he’s eager to see it all. There are few characters that I can think of with whom I’ve felt such a strong connection – as one starry-eyed dreamer to another. And his pure-heartedness and perpetual state of wonderment, paired with flames of determination and passion within, make him the kind of character you can’t help but adore.
My favorite part of the book has to be Laini Taylor’s intimate and rich prose. Seriously, the only way I can describe the imagery and overall writing of this book is sumptuous (had to pull out the thesaurus for that one). It’s almost as if you can see and feel every detail in the book, from dusty library stacks to the cityscape of Weep, and even the creatures lurking under the sand. Hence the world she creates seems to come alive as you read and almost glows in your mind after you’ve finished. The vocabulary is at a higher register than most YA novels I’ve read so I recommend having your dictionary app open while reading (e-book readers have it easy in this case!).
There are allusions to sexual assault and violence in the book, which may be triggering for some readers and are heartbreaking to read. Powerful emotions like pain, regret, and longing are vividly conveyed as characters struggle to find a sense of belonging and do what’s right. All of the characters seem to have a distinct role to play in the unfolding plot, and I am eager to see how some individuals rise to the occasion, or fail to, in the second book.
I appreciated the pace of the book which was heavily plot-driven without sacrificing character building and world-building. You really empathize with the characters because you get the time to learn about them and see them grow, and are immersed in the lore and logic of the world Taylor crafted. I wouldn’t describe it as action-packed or fast-paced but more like a rising beat. Slow and building at the start with a couple sharp turns in between until before you know it, your heart is racing and your eyes can’t move fast enough across the page. Extra caution to those of us who can’t handle cliff-hangers because there are plenty throughout the book and a big one right at the end that will have you counting down the days until the next book is in your hands.
Strange the Dreamer holds more than enough mystery, sorrow, and wonder to capture any fantasy reader’s attention. The second book is at the top of my wishlist for 2018 and I’ll be reading Laini Taylor’s other books in the meantime!
Blogger Bio: Meet Nitasha!
I’m a 21 year old who spends most of her time dreaming up stories and talking peoples’ ears off. Fantasy is my favorite genre of everything and I love period dramas and movies (P&P all the way!)