Book Review: Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith

dreamstriderWhile the cover is gorgeous, and the premise of this book was rather exciting, the actual contents failed to live up to its promise.

This is my second book from the author, and unfortunately, I’ve found that her writing style just doesn’t gel for me. It’s difficult to pinpoint why, exactly, but it felt quite bland and repetitive, and just never drew me in – and as a result, I was hardpressed to concentrate on finishing the story.

Kudos to the author’s imagination, however. The concept is wildly creative, set in a land where dreams are revered and utilised by those in power as a method of gathering intelligence about potential threats to the Barstadt Empire. Livia, our protagonist, takes things one step further – she is the only known Dreamstrider, someone with the capability of walking in dreams and possessing the bodies of other people while they sleep. She is recruited from her life of poverty as one of the lower classes to work for the government ministry, part of a team working to ensure the safety of the land. However, when a more nefarious plot emerges, involving enemies both ancient and neighbourly, Livia and her cohorts are drawn into a fight for the safety of their people, and the endurance of their dream belief system.

I had a number of problems with this book, however. Firstly, there is far too much telling instead of showing, involving long paragraphs of explanations. Secondly, the world building felt incomplete to me – the author tried to incorporate so much, but ended up leaving gaps in certain critical aspects.

Our MC Livia is in a constant state of doubt about how she isn’t good enough, partially due to one instance in the past where she screwed up and people got hurt. However, this constant gloom becomes irritating after a while. While it does make a change from magical snowflakes who know how to master their magical abilities instantly, the low-self esteem is overdone and continues for almost the entire novel.  

Finally, there were a couple of minor things that were constantly repeated and thus stood out for me.

  • The love interests keep touching her hair. Enough times that I noticed. Seriously. They tuck locks behind her ear, disentangle it from where it clings to her face, brush it off her shoulder, talk into it, nestle their noses into it….You get the idea.
  • There were also numerous figures of speech that were probably supposed to be imaginative and meaningful but really don’t make sense upon closer examination.
  • Strange grammar – using “So and so and me” instead of “I”.
  • Two love triangles. Or like a love…diamond? I’m not sure of the geometric shape here, but basically two love interests for Livia, and two for her crush and partner, Brandt.
  • The Emperor decides to ignore all his advisors and instead leave the fate of the nation in the hands of two barely-trained teenagers. Because of course.
  • The overall plot consisted of: take a trip, come back, report. Take another trip, come back, report. Rinse, wash, repeat.

Overall, a unique concept that was sadly overshadowed by fairly sub-par prose and too many niggling annoyances, which I pointed out above. However, do take my opinion with a pinch of salt – most people on Goodreads seem to have loved this one, and you might too.

Rating: 3/10

Hannah is a twenty-something born and bred Capetonian who adores reading and reviewing books, and encouraging critical discussion on all things pop culture. Currently a politics graduate student, she spent two years working in digital marketing before deciding she missed the student life. Loves QI, travel, dark chocolate, fantasy & YA books, pilates and sarcasm.