I do like the writing; I feel like she utilizes present tense very well. I feel like there is a lot more emotion and a lot of the POV is Roya’s thoughts which really helps us get in the moment. There are a few sentences that don’t quite flow and are a little distracting, but overall I liked the writing. There were some bitterly humorous moments as well that really fit with Roya’s personality- see the Quotes section.
The beginning was kinda iffy, but this eventually settled into a four star book. If it was just up to mere plot I would be a little more hesitant. But there is a lot of emotion going on too. That and the fact that there is always something going on plotwise, and sometimes several things at once. There’s never a dull moment. It just always gives you something to think about.
On the one hand that could make for a very confusing book- trying to balance busy plot and busy emotions. But somehow it came across in a way that made me really enjoy it. I also felt like Roya’s opinion of it all was very unique. What I found interesting is that she acted like it was pretty much hopeless up until the very last possible minute of life. Then she had an idea. But I feel like most people, her included, thought it was all just an elaborate to-do that would eventually be futile. And yet they all went with it. That took a certain amount of…I want to call it courage, but it was probably a little bit of nihilism too (in the philosophical sense).
The one thing that got me especially in the beginning was the background. There was really very little exposition. Most things we learned as we went on, and even some of the things I would consider important to know at the beginning we found out near the end. (I don’t mean just the plot twist.) But the story started in the middle of the action and everything that happened before came a lot later, in bits and pieces. It was hard to piece it together as a solid background. But something in me decided that that wasn’t important, so I guess that wasn’t really the point of the book. Perhaps, then, it was the messages about emotion that were the most important.
And I think that’s true. It’s not even just the super confusing love triangle. Sure, it was kind of frustrating that she never really thought about it and was extremely indecisive even at the very end, but that didn’t bother me. The book wasn’t about the love triangle, even though that seemed to occupy a lot of time I would have thought would be devoted elsewhere (the days before the battle). I feel like the underlying point of the book was about the internal struggles that almost everyone faced.
George probably had it the worst because in addition to his own feelings (when he discovered he had them) he had to feel everyone else’s piled on top of him. He was just a mess. And then there’s Ren, who even in the end managed to be an asshole while we know there’s some really tragic secret that’s causing it (but we don’t know what). There’s Aiden’s really obvious internal struggle between feelings for Roya and professionalism. He didn’t have it the worst, that’s for sure. There’s Joseph’s struggle with his knowledge and past and future, and his struggle to hide the truth. And finally, there’s Roya’s struggle with being alone and trying to save a world who couldn’t care less about her, knowing she’ll fail.
All of these names kinda came out of nowhere (I just read the synopsis) so I’ll give a brief intro. George and Joseph are Roya’s friends who are meant to help her. Ren and Aiden are workers at the Institute who are also meant to help her. They are all meant to prepare her for a battle with Zhuang, the bad guy.
The setting and concepts were really cool, if a bit hazy at times. There always seemed to be something new to learn. But the whole concept of dream travel, based off the idea of having lucid dreams, was fascinating and useful. It was basically like time travel and teleportation, but only in your dreams. The fact that many dream travelers had abilities on top of dream travel may almost seem a bit much, but it wasn’t that much to process.
The ending, like I always say, was not without misfortune, but mostly was a good one. It was a little uncertain, but as seemed to be the theme, more emphasis was placed on people’s emotions than the actual battle itself. It was…an interesting way of looking at it.
To say much more here would be spoilers, so I’ll leave you with this. This is a very compelling read that kept me at the edge of my seat a good deal of the time. It was busy, yes, but it definitely moved the story along. And I was never quite sure what to expect from Roya, so I always wanted to find out what would happen next. I would continue the series.
“But I’m still here, staring at this world like it’s my very own surreal Alice in Wonderland. I know better though. I don’t believe in fantasies.”
The funny connection I wanted to draw here was that Alice in Wonderland (my favorite series of all time) relies almost solely on dreams too. In fact, some argue that the whole thing was simply a dream. So it seems kind of ridiculous to me that she call AiW a fantasy and what she’s going through is not.
“It’s a big request, but I’m a heartless optimist. This combination could make me lethal, but mostly it has led to a successful hermit lifestyle.”
“Still, denial has rented a room in my head and frequently stomps around slamming doors.”
This isn’t the only time she has done this, but she reminds me so much of myself when she comes up with these elaborate metaphors. I love them. I spend a lot of time on my metaphors and they get quite crazy and long. I absolutely enjoy reading them too.
“Everyone’s different and therein lies the beauty.”
“He waves so frantically that even a blind cat would notice him.”
“Artists have the uncanny gift of making me feel what I’ve been evading. They should all be incarcerated.”
“My agnostic heart bows to a place created by men, fit for God.”
My sentiments exactly.