“The bride has been feeling woozy all day…Whoever shares her lipstick that day, whoever borrows her eyeliner, whoever kisses her cheek that night or dances too close or clinks her flute of champagne, whoever touches her hand to admire the ring, whoever catches the bouquet at the end of the night-all of them, every one, is exposed. This is how the sickness travels best: through all the same channels as do fondness and friendship and love.”
Publication Date: January 15, 2019
Publisher: Random House
My Copy Came From: NetGalley
Read Via: Kindle
Genre: Literary Fiction, Family Life Fiction and Dystopian Fiction
Book Summary from Amazon:
An ordinary town is transformed by a mysterious illness that triggers perpetual sleep in this mesmerizing novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Age of Miracles.
“This book is stunning.”—Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven
One night in an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a first-year student 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, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. When a second girl falls asleep, and then a third, Mei finds herself thrust together with an eccentric classmate as panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. A young couple tries to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. Two sisters turn to each other for comfort as their survivalist father prepares for disaster.
Those affected by the illness, doctors discover, are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, higher than has ever been recorded before. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?
Written in luminous prose, The Dreamers is a breathtaking and beautiful novel, startling and provocative, about the possibilities contained within a human life—in our waking days and, perhaps even more, in our dreams.
Advance praise for The Dreamers
“Frighteningly powerful, beautiful, and uncanny, The Dreamers is a love story and also a horror story—a symphonic achievement, alternating intimate moments with a panoramic capture of a crisis in progress.”—Karen Russell, author of Vampires in the Lemon Grove: And Other Stories
“A modern Midsummer Night’s Dream . . . In this wonderful novel, Walker paints a haunting canvas exploring time, memory, consciousness, and youth.”—Marisha Pessl, author of Night Film
“What a book! I read The Dreamers in a dream of sorts myself, entirely transported into Karen Thompson Walker’s world of mysterious tragedy and infinite, if unexpected, compassion. This is a profound novel, and a deeply moving one. How she takes a terrifying situation and reveals it as a thing of beauty, a lesson in the human spirit, is a mystery to me, but she does exactly that, and fortunate readers will celebrate this extraordinary book.”—Robin Black, author of Life Drawing
It is kind of ironic that a book called The Dreamers, felt like a dream to read . It was the perfect combination of my favorite kind of story mixed with beautiful, and perfect writing. It’s funny to say that a book written about a virus is beautiful, but there is a way to write about something so tragic in a way that doesn’t make the tragedy more important than the cast of characters. Karen Thompson Walker has perfected this art. I read a lot of stories in which a tragedy occurs, many times its a virus, or some other way the people in the novel are in danger of dying and losing loved ones. But books like The Dreamers truly make an impact because they are written in such a way that they build upon the story in a natural, flowing way. The Dreamers doesn’t rely on storytelling that just starts with “this happened, then this happened, which caused this to happen, then they did this, then the end.” It explores the inner thoughts of its characters and that is how we learn about the virus taking over the small town of Santa Lora, CA.
It begins in a college dorm where we meet Mei. An outcast among the other outgoing, typical, college freshmen exploring their new-found independence. One morning Mei’s dorm-mate will not wake up. Oddly though, she is still breathing and her heart is still pumping, so she is rushed to the hospital. The kids in the dorm are understandably freaked out. They don’t yet realize what they are in for until one by one more of them fall asleep. As more and more of them fall ill, their young minds struggle to grasp the idea that their lives are forever changed. News media floods the area, and it isn’t long until the college dorm isn’t the only place the virus is hitting. Soon, we meet Sara and Libby, two young girls whose father prepared for an event like this. Their basement is full of everything they could possibly need for any type of doomsday scenario. Their father works as a janitor at the college and returns home from work one night with the knowledge that all of his planning has been for this event. Nathaniel, a college professor at the college where the outbreak has begun, is caring for his dying husband who lives in a local nursing home. With all of his classes cancelled, he is taking a deeper look at his life and realizing that the time left with his husband may be cut even shorter. Next door to Sara and Libby live two professors who recently moved from New York with their newborn baby. Each time their baby falls asleep, they wait anxiously for her to wake up. Knowing how much newborn babies sleep, and facing an unknown virus which causes people to fall asleep and not wake up, I can only imagine the sheer terror these parents faced. Last, we follow a psychiatrist who is away from her young daughter while researching this sudden outbreak. Her job initially is to help determine if this virus is real, or possibly psychosomatic. While she is in Santa Lora, her medical duties multiply quickly as she sees her fellow doctors fall one by one, into this endless sleep.
For those of you who feel like this book is similar to Stephen King’s novel Sleeping Beauties, the only commonality is the fact that the virus is a sleeping disease. SPOILER ALERT: In King’s book; Only the women fall ill and are wrapped in cocoons, they go homicidal if you disturb them, there is a crazy magic witch and a huge tree in another world where the women now live. So, I would definitely say these two books are different. Both great though!
I loved this book. It restored my faith that more books can be written in my favorite genre that don’t sound like every other book I’ve read. This is one of my favorite examples of a book that sounds too “out there” for people, yet people of all reading tastes will love it. Much like another favorite of mine, Station Eleven. Both of these books are the kinds that I get sad about when they end. I know that readers will devour this book, not matter what their favorite genre is, if given the chance. This book will be one of my favorites this year, and likely for years to come.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this Advanced Readers Edition of The Dreamers: A Novel by Karen Thomas Walker.
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