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
An epidemic of perpetual sleep strikes a small town.
Many are "trapped" not by a captor, but by their own slumber.
I was captivated immediately from page one. A frightful opening made me ever so curious to read on...
This author's writing style was mesmerizing and magical . I was absorbed in her words and the fictional town in California. Literary fiction at its best without needless side stories or wasted dialogue. The story flows effortlessly and I adored it.
It begins with some college dorm students falling ill, into a sleepliness, a dizziness, a state of "dreaming." As the sleep virus spreads so does the frequency of townspeople wearing hospital masks and blue latex gloves. There is a growing " buzz of panic and gloom ". Some of terrified of the sensation of sleepiness. Nathaniel believes that "hysteria over the illness is the real disease of the era."
As the cases balloon out of control, no one can stop the unstoppable dreaming state. Some believe it could be a hoax. What is real? What is a dream?
I adored this story, the magical writing and the tension building suspense. Totally bewitching read. Highly recommend!
I borrowed this one from my local library and it is Available NOW.
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.
It is much harder for me to write a review of a book that I did not like rather than one I loved. I do not usually read science fiction/fantasy or whatever genre this would be assigned to but the reviews were so good for this novel I decided to give it a try.
The premise is not a new one. There have been many books written and movies made of a virus or some alien illness infecting humans and making them behave in one way or another. In this case whatever this is, makes humans fall into a deep sleep. Doctors have them hooked up for hydration and they show high levels of brain activity, but what does it all mean? It starts in the dorm of a college town in Santa Lora, California, a very idyllic setting. The book initially had me hooked, I kept reading to see where it was all going to lead.
At first it is just the college students being infected and they are not allowed to leave the floor of their dorm. But quarantine does not work as many of the students on the floor continue to fall into the sleeping sickness. They are then moved to a gym and not allowed to leave, still more fall ill. It was thought that perhaps the ventilation system was to blame for the sickness but that has been ruled out.
There are many elderly people in a nursing home who fall ill to the sickness. Now the doctors and nurses that are tending them are sick, it seems no one is safe.
I would like to say that this book has strong characters, but I did not find that to be the case. We get to know a young couple, both professors, who have an infant just a few weeks old. We get to know a bit about their life before they moved here and how they are now working as a team, groggy from lack of sleep, as all parents of newborns are, but now never leaving their baby alone, fearful for the first signs that she will not wake up.
Mei is a college freshman who really wanted to be in an Arts program but her mother insisted on this college instead. She is shy and has trouble making friends. She could have been made more interesting if we knew more about her background. For her this forced kinship with others from her dorm floor almost seems like a good thing.
There are a lot of loose threads in this book. There was mention several times that the lake level was lower than normal. Did this have something to do with the sickness? Nothing is ever resolved.
Thrown into this mix it is discovered that a college student, Rebecca, has become pregnant and she is one of the last to awaken, nearly a year later. In the meantime she has given birth to a girl, but when she wakes she can only remember a strange “dream” where she is the mother of a son and is already past middle age. Is this a characteristic of this illness??? Who knows, we don’t hear of anyone else with this type of dream????
There was a group of people who had been staying in a motel but run into the forest to escape quarantine. Was there something wrong with the motel? They all soon fall sick.
There were so many individual occurrences that never seemed to lead to a resolution or cure. There is quite a large cast of characters but I didn’t find them to be well described.
Then there is a wildfire in the mountains and again for unexplained reasons, many people wake up from their dreamlike sleep while others perish. Can this be the cure????
This was one of the most frustrating reads I’ve had in a long time. I felt no strong connection to any of the characters. There were so many ideas or hints at things that may be causing the sickness but in the end there is no resolution and the sleeping sickness as it was being called never spread beyond this small town.
In the end, even after several days to think about it I was still left with the question of “what did I just read”?
I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher through Edelweiss.
4 genre spanning stars! ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
The Dreamers is a different sort of read for me, and I’m grateful I read it. The premise? A disease is affecting a college town causing unstoppable sleep and vividly strange dreams.
It all starts at a university in Southern California when a student, Kara, falls asleep and no one can rouse her, not her roommate, Mei, and not even the doctors at the hospital. That event is then followed by another student, and then another, and then the town is sieged with panic by this unknown and perplexing illness.
At first no one knows why this is happening. Are the students playing a prank? With the doctors finding no known medical cause, just what could be going on? I personally cannot imagine how scared I would feel in that situation.
Karen Thompson Walker’s writing is stunning, and I found my emotions all over the place while reading. At times, I was panicked and forlorn, like the townspeople and students. Other times I was emotional over the effects of this disease on the community and individuals within it. There was palpable tension, and again, that frightfulness. Not in the horror kind of way, but in that unknown, insidious, completely out-of-your-control kind of way. The exploration of dreams versus reality was also captivating.
The Dreamers is all about the characters and their raw and authentic emotions. I was so completely transfixed I felt like I was a resident of the town, too. I found The Dreamers a memorable, thought-provoking, insightful, and frightening page-turner. This book spans genres, including eerily tense suspense, light science fiction, and dystopian; all on a backdrop of a glorious character study. Loved it!
Thank you to the publisher for the complimentary ARC. All opinions are my own.
My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
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.
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