The Dreamers - Karen Thompson Walker

October 29, 2018

5 / 5 Stars

 

Eerie, unsettling, oddly moving - one of the best books I've read this year.

A sleeping epidemic washes over a sleepy US town. On the face of it, it doesn't sound like much of a premise, does it? Well, think again. This book packs an almighty punch - a heady blend of thought-provokingness (I'm aware that's not a word), emotion and unnerving horror. 

 
It all starts with a college girl, falling asleep and never waking up. Other students start to follow suit, then before the town knows it, other people outside the college are contracting the illness. The symptoms always seem the same; the patient entering a state of 'hyper-dreaming' - though what they're dreaming about, no-one knows. 

Soon, the entire town is under quarantine, with more falling ill by the day. Families are wrenched apart as some succumb and others don't. Anxious parents wait outside the quarantine zone, desperate for news of their loved ones. Supplies start to run low.

I won't spoil what happens at the end, but for me, this was the PERFECT ending and oh my god, the moment with the previously pregnant girl waking up is unbearably bittersweet and sad. So, so good.

In another author's hands, this book could have been a giant hot mess - either a pile of 'not much happens' literary bilge, or an over-sensationalised horror. However, thanks to the author's deft, distancing manner of writing, it is an absolute masterpiece. Delicate, observant and at times, deeply emotional. Yes, it is also creepy, let's make no bones about that. But it's balanced with this deeper sense of loss, panic and hopelessness, which is what gives it such power.

As you can tell, I was a big fan of this book and I'll most likely be ordering my copy for its February release. Go and pre-order your copy now!

 

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