The Dreamersby Published 15 Jan 2019
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. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics who carry her away, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. Then a second girl falls asleep, and then another, and panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. 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.
Mei, an outsider in the cliquish hierarchy of dorm life, finds herself thrust together with an eccentric, idealistic classmate. Two visiting professors try to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. A father succumbs to the illness, leaving his daughters to fend for themselves. And at the hospital, a new life grows within a college girl, unbeknownst to her—even as she sleeps. A psychiatrist, summoned from Los Angeles, attempts to make sense of the illness as it spreads through the town. Those infected are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, more than has ever been recorded. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?
The Dreamers Reviews
Enter la-la land.....
This was a fascinating-eerie story. Mysterious right from the beginning.
Head-scratching puzzle of a novel....
We keep hearing how important sleep is- that lack of sleep is the cause for many health issues.
Perhaps this college town with hundreds sleeping are revitalizing their minds and body. Too many college exams and late night parties are a health hazard.
I had a little fun with this novel - my own cuckoo mind was captured by the dreamy-atmosphere. As the characters fell into dreamland... so did I.
I thought about walk-out strikes from jobs-
Then chuckled at the thought of a town going on strike from being awake. Why not?
Maybe in the way natural forest fires are nature’s way of cleaning out the earth...
a sleeping town rests to replenish the health of humanity.
This book gave me the *Willy-Chillies* - at times - yet there was so much beauty in the writing. It was dystopia without horror.
The stories - characters - prose - were all compelling!!!
Great exploration of the unconscious - awake or asleep.....what’s the difference?
Mystery land of dreamland ..
Do we dream of our past? Our future?
Is ‘awake’ life really any more real than dream life?
Again... hell if I know!
Kudos to the author -
Very creative novel of the unknown world.
Guess I need to read “The Age of Miracles”.
This narrative style! From the first paragraph I knew I was going to be so pulled into this story, whatever it was going to be, by the writing. There is something about it, the way Karen Thompson Walker tells this story. It’s third person narrative and I felt removed as if I was watching this on film or on the stage but at the same time there’s an intimacy that affords the reader a connection to these characters, their fears, their loneliness, their pasts, and their dreams from this deep sleep. While this felt very visual, I didn’t find the language to be overly descriptive. It was clear and concise and beautiful.
In a small town of Santa Lora, California the sleep sickness, caused by a virus first hits a college dorm. One by one they are taken to the hospital, until some doctors and nurses fall into this sleep, and the hospital as well as the dorm are placed under quarantine and then the library where overflow patients are taken and the gym where the students from the affected dorm floor are taken. It’s an eerie feeling as Santa Lora is placed under quarantine - no one in or out. We see the crisis through the lives of fairly large cast of characters who are not depicted as mere statistics, but as real people that we may know or could be. Rebecca, the second victim lies in the hospital and we come to know something about her that she can’t know in her sleep state until the dreams come to her. Mei, a lonely college freshman for whom connections become possible through the crisis. Sara and Libby, eleven and twelve year old girls, who are forced to care for themselves. Anne and Ben and their newborn daughter, adjusting to parenthood and facing the crisis. These are some of the characters I came to know and care about along with others as the narrative alternates between their points of view, sometimes overlapping as they connect with each other.
I might have given this 5 stars, but it lagged in the middle and then it seemed the ending came so abruptly. I’m not sure I really understood what the dreams meant. Were they memories of the past? Were they about the future? But what I do know is that this was a haunting, thought provoking, and hopeful story. Mei whose loneliness broke my heart, says of people she sees on the street , “One of the women outside is walking barefoot in her business suit. Where are her shoes ? Mei wonders, but that’s the thing about strangers: you don’t get to hear their stories.” The thing I loved most about this book is that we do get to hear their stories.
Esil, thanks so much for the recommendation because you were right that I would like this book. I’m so glad I followed up because this is so much more than I thought it would be. I also highly recommend The Age of Miracles, the author’s first novel which was a 5 star read for me.
I received an advanced copy of this book from Random House through NetGalley.
I picked up “The Dreamers” because the premise sounded very similar to one of my favorite books, “The Leftovers” by Tom Perrotta. “The Leftovers” follows the lives of characters that find themselves questioning their existence after millions of people vanish from Earth without any explanation. Karen Thompson Walker manages to write about the same kinds of themes as Perrotta, but she makes it her own by using a much more surreal writing style. The writing style matches the title perfectly. I’m a sucker for books that are about existential dread and “The Dreamers” was compelling for me throughout the entire novel.
The story follows multiple characters as they realize that there is a mysterious illness falling upon the town of Santa Lora, California. People are falling asleep and not waking up. The illness has such a large effect on the town that they have to quarantine the population to get the illness under control. With scientists and doctors baffled by the cause of the illness, the people who haven’t caught the sleep sickness are left trying to figure out how to keep some feeling of normal. “People don’t know what to say, there’s nothing to say.”
The book has a plot, but it’s not the main focus of the book. The main focus is the characters and how they deal with these unfortunate and unexplained events. The characters range from a college aged girl falling in love to a married couple struggling to make sense of the world as they try and raise their newborn daughter. There were some characters I liked more than others, but I’m certain that anyone reading the novel will cling to certain characters and perhaps see themselves in the actions and feelings of more than one character throughout the story. The theme of how characters handle uncertainty in the world struck me and sat with me. It’s still sitting with me.
“All the days are such a darkness, that all of us move through our hours as if blindfolded, never knowing what will happen next.”
Our experience in this world is personal and different for everyone but it’s novels like “The Dreamers” that make us feel more connected to the human experience. When bad things happen we all try to look for answers, but in the end the answers are found within ourselves and the people around us, not necessarily in the chaotic and unpredictable world we live in.
These days, science doesn’t take much interest in dreams.
2½ stars. I'm rating this purely based on my personal enjoyment and connection with the narrative. Some people are going to love this book.
I read Walker's The Age of Miracles more than six years ago, didn't love it, but wanted to give her another try. I know my tastes have changed. Maybe even the author had changed, too. As it turns out, my review of her debut is fairly similar to how I feel about The Dreamers, comma splices aside.
This book is full of dreamy hypnotic prose. I can count on one hand the amount of books where this style has worked for me. In fact, right now, I can't actually think of one. There's this sense that you are looking down on everything from a distance; through a haze. It is written in third person and moves through small chapters - vignettes, almost - with many different people who I never felt a connection to.
The Dreamers' premise is virtually identical to King's Sleeping Beauties, except here the sleeping sickness can affect men and appears to be contagious. The major difference, I feel, is in how much we are pulled into the characters lives. Sleeping Beauties was not a fast-paced book, but I felt very drawn into the drama. With a page count almost twice as long as this book, it's hardly surprising that there was far more character development.
In the first few chapters of The Dreamers, a girl dies under mysterious circumstances, her friends and parents mourn, and it is all narrated with such bizarre detachment. The sleeping sickness spreads from there and the author explores how it affects many different lives. Some of this is interesting; some of it feels repetitive.
It is a book for those who enjoy sleepy, beautifully-written novels. The characters won't stay with me, personally, nor should you come into this expecting a satisfying sci-fi story in which things are explained. Much like dreams, a lot doesn't make sense in this book. What I will probably remember the longest are the quotes that touched me. Such as this one:
This is how the sickness travels best: through all the same channels as do fondness and friendship and love.
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
In Santa Lora, California, a College Student, named Kara, falls into a deep dream filled sleep. No one can wake her. She is the first of many.
Mei was Kara’s roommate, she and several other survivors on Kara’s floor, including a teenager named Matthew, have been quarantined. Two sisters, Sara and Libby are left to fend for themselves after their father succumbs to sleep. Around town, there are armed guards, keeping the uninfected together in one place. Supermarkets are out of food and people are scared. The brain waves of the sick are highly unusual showing that the dreamers are in an active dream state and no one has any idea what it means.
My nerves were on high alert from the very first, my detective skills working overtime trying to figure out every possible scenario. Can you blame me? I mean, even though it sounds somewhat innocuous, this is still an illness I have no interest in catching.
Karen Thompson Walker’s “The Dreamers” is slow to build, but it immediately transfixes you. It is intriguing, lovely, lyrical and yes, a bit terrifying. It makes you think about the idea of community v confinement and which situation would help or hurt you most in a situation like this. “The Dreamers” also makes you ponder your dreams and what they mean. If you’ve ever had crazy dreams, this novel gives you food for thought!
This is a character driven novel: my heart lurched and my chest pounded and I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster. “The Dreamers” is quite different, it has a “sleepily” quality to it, if you will (ha ha), and it’s a highly satisfying, haunting read which I absolutely loved.
This was a buddy read with Ms. Kaceey! So so glad we read this one together!
Thank you to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group - Random House and Karen Thompson Walker for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Published on NetGalley, Goodreads and Twitter on 11.21.18.