Author: Lindsay Smith
Published: October 6th 2015
Publisher: Roaring Brook
Length: 400 pages
Source: Publisher for review
A high-concept, fantastical espionage novel set in a world where dreams are the ultimate form of political intelligence.Livia is a dreamstrider. She can inhabit a subject's body while they are sleeping and, for a short time, move around in their skin. She uses her talent to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. But her partner, Brandt, has lately become distant, and when Marez comes to join their team from a neighborhing kingdom, he offers Livia the option of a life she had never dared to imagine. Livia knows of no other dreamstriders who have survived the pull of Nightmare. So only she understands the stakes when a plot against the Empire emerges that threatens to consume both the dreaming world and the waking one with misery and rage.A richly conceived world full of political intrigue and fantastical dream sequences, at its heart Dreamstrider is about a girl who is struggling to live up to the potential before her.
Dreamstrider is a romantic fantasy novel with a distinctly historical feel. It is Lindsey Smith’s third published full length novel, and to her credit, it’s practically bursting with diversity and fresh ideas. It is, however, a very flawed novel that required much more work on several aspects including composition.
Dreamstrider throws us straight into a complex world with very little in the way of explanation. It’s almost entirely up to us to figure out our way around, to understand the rules and limitations that apply to Barstadt and its inhabitants. I’ve had this same problem with Smith’s previous work, Sekret. She doesn’t pay too much attention to exposition and it always costs the reader (and consequently her) dearly.
I need to be very clear on the fact that Lindsey Smith’s imagination was put to very good use in this book. While I already mentioned that I found the exposition lacking, the complexity of the world, the social structure, the religious aspect and paranormal abilities were all on a very admirable level. It took a while to truly understand the world and its many intricacies and better explanations would have made the process less daunting and much more enjoyable, but that doesn’t change the fact that Smith has really outdone herself with the worldbuilding she offered.
The romance brought another disappointment, with the exasperating lack of honesty and communication between best friends. The idea of so much background between Livia and Brandt was stupendous, but I felt that it wasn’t used to its full potential. These two had years of history between them, all that work as partners for the Ministry, and yet they behaved like strangers, unable to read each other or talk about what’s most important.
While it gets huge points for originality and detail, Dreamstrider is a novel I would hesitate to recommend. There are just too many things that were left unclear and unexplained, too many characters that required more work and development and even the ending seemed a bit too rushed and well-rounded.
A copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher for review purposes. No considerations, monetary or otherwise, have influenced the opinions expressed in this review.