The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker: Book Review


The Dreamers  by Karen Thompson Walker
Published Jan 15, 2019 by Random House
320 Pages
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From Publisher: In an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a freshman girl stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. As the number of cases multiplies, classes are canceled, and stores begin to run out of supplies. A quarantine is established. The National Guard is summoned.Those infected are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, more than has ever been recorded. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?

My Thoughts: In an effort to read a little more widely and outside of my mystery/thriller/romance genres, I decided to give this book a try based on the many positive reviews from blogging friends and on Goodreads. I’ve enjoyed science fiction in the past (Dark Matter) but I’m more unsure about dystopian stories. Overall, I liked this one for reasons I wasn’t anticipating when I began.

The premise of the story was fascinating and pulled me in right away. What was this mysterious phenomenon where people were falling into a deep sleep and not waking? How is it spreading? How can it be prevented if at all? So many questions are examined through the lens of wonderful storytelling. The author doesn’t use any gimmicks with this story; rather, she tells it in such a way that I was drawn into not only the characters but the writing itself. There are many characters and the chapters  alternate between several over the span of the book. I had no trouble keeping the characters straight and of course had my favorites…Sara and Libby and Nathanial are at the top of my list.

Along with excellent characterization, I really enjoyed the entire aspect of dreams which came as a surprise to me. The author delves into the intricacies of dreaming, and ties it into the story in ways that hint to an almost alternate reality for many of the characters. It really made me think about those dreams that FEEL SO REAL and how when we’re in the midst of those dreams they ARE real to us. It’s fascinating to me and I thoroughly enjoyed how the author weaved this concept into the story.

There were a few things, however, that didn’t work for me. With so many characters, I became less invested in a few of them and found myself rushing to get back to those I really cared about. Also, somewhere around the 60% mark I found myself getting impatient with the story and wanting things to happen, to move faster. I may have even done a little skimming. As for the ending, I found it a little anti-climatic as others have mentioned but I felt that the author did give us as many answers as  possible for the story. I wasn’t blown away by how it ended but I was satisfied.

Have you read this or want to? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments 

Thanks to Random House via Netgalley for my copy


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22 thoughts on “The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker: Book Review

  1. I thought with this one it was okay to be less invested in the characters, because the disease was the main focus of the story. I agree that the ending could have had a little more oomph to it! I’d call The Dreamers dystopian-lite!


    1. I’d agree that’s it’s dystopian-lite! I think I just personally wanted to be more invested in most of the characters since there were so many


  2. It’s on my list. I love dystopian fiction if it’s done well. I do not care for anti-climactic endings but willing to accept one if it ends on a note where there is possibly a bigger picture… something deeper to ponder. You know?


    1. I get what your saying TI and you might be ok with this type of ending based on what you said. I think you’ll really like this book!


  3. The isn’t my usual genre either but I loved it for the writing and the characters (even if I wasn’t equally invested). I gave it 4.5 stars and rounded up to 5. The ending didn’t bother me, I thought it fit the story and I thought about the book for days after finishing.


    1. The writing was definitely excellent Jan, I’d agree. I think I wanted more from the ending but I’m ok with how she chose to finish the story


    1. She really did a terrific job of creating that dreamlike atmosphere in her writing, that was also one of my favorite things about the story


  4. I was with you on having trouble getting invested in the characters–eventually I got there, but I wanted to care more about them from the beginning. Otherwise, I loved the writing and drifty feeling of this book, almost as if reading it was a little dreamlike as well.


    1. I think we’re definitely on the same page about how we felt about the characters Allison. With there being so many, I wanted to care about more that just a couple


  5. This is a book I’ve been looking forward to, being in a preferred genre for me, but also because it has gotten rave reviews from reader friends who aren’t into dystopian books. Too bad you didn’t enjoy it more! Definitely looking forward to it still. Hopefully you’ll find the right dystopian for you somewhere down the line. 😉


    1. I liked it just didn’t love it but I can understand the rave reviews. I think you’ll enjoy it since this is a preferred genre for you. Looking forward to your thoughts


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