Book Review: Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

Title: Strange the Dreamer (2017)
Series: Strange the Dreamer – Book 1
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Extent: 544 pages
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Description

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around – and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries – including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Review

Strange the Dreamer must be one of this year’s most anticipated releases. The cover is beautiful, the story sounds remarkable, and it’s written by Laini Taylor, a somewhat big-name author in the YA genre. My first attempt with her ended OK — I enjoyed Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but didn’t love it enough to continue — and I can safely say, thankfully, that I had a better experience with this book. 🙏

Strange the Dreamer is about Lazlo Strange, an orphan obsessed with the mystery of a lost city called Weep. When the chance comes for him to actually visit the city, he seizes it, and with it his life changes completely. This is a story with many, many players, where nothing is quite as it seems, and where each character has their own (often conflicting) goals.

“You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable,” she pleaded. “Something beautiful and full of monsters.”

“Beautiful and full of monsters?”

“All the best stories are.”

I’m not gonna lie: I actually had quite a tough time getting into Strange the Dreamer. The world-building is amazing — superb, even — and the mythology is so rich in culture, that it took a while for me to orient myself. Taylor’s writing is also so descriptive, often so heavy, that it just wasn’t that easy to fall into the story. While it’s not a good book to pick up when you’re going through a bit of a slump (like me), however, it is still a good book. 🙌

To me the story really only picked up in Part 2, but the characters alone are worth reading this book for. It’s not only Lazlo who is very well-developed and complex, but plenty of others too, which is amazing given that this book has tons of characters. Nearly all of them have their own background stories and distinctive personalities, and the ones who don’t usually don’t play a huge part.

“Good people do all the things bad people do, Lazlo. It’s just that when they do them, they call it justice.”

I don’t remember who it was who told me that this book thankfully didn’t have insta-love, but after reading it now, I have to kind of disagree. While the romance didn’t develop as instantly as in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I’d personally still categorise it as insta-love. That’s not to say, however, that this is a huge detriment; it’s just something that I feel like I need to point out.

Overall, I’m glad that I picked up this book and gave it a chance despite the slow beginning. The world-building is intricate, mystical and magical, and the characters are well-written and intriguing, I couldn’t help but to want to know more about them. Definitely worth a read if you’re into myth-based fantasies. 🙆

* I received a copy of STRANGE THE DREAMER from Hachette Australia.

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41 thoughts on “Book Review: Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

  1. Beautiful review, Reg! I haven’t read that one yet but it seems like everyone did, ahah, I’m clearly missing out on something here since you gave it 4 stars! I need to add it to my TBR 🙂

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  2. I already had an inkling that this book would be a tough one to get into at first but I’m all for powering through to the epicness. I have no idea what to expect from this book and I’ve done a good job at avoiding spoilers but if it’s Laini Taylor I can predict it being all kinds of magical and I can’t wait to read it.

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  3. Great review for this book Reg, I’m glad you enjoyed this one and glad you enjoyed it more than the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series as well. Personally I loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone but still thought Strange the Dreamer was even better. Laini Taylor definitely have a heavy writing style, which I think helped with the development of the world and the characters, but at the same time it took me longer than normal to get through this book because of it. 🙂

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  4. Ooh, lovely review Reg! This book has been absolutely everywhere, and I feel like I ought to pick it up too, just to see what everyone loves so much.
    Thanks for the heads-up about the book being getting hard to get into. I’ll remember to soldier on through to Part 2!

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  5. Great review! I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed this one. I LOVED this book, but it does take a bit to orient yourself inside the story. I think it’s because there are so many different characters and the plot does move pretty slow at the beginning. It’s such a gorgeous story and so well-written though!

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  6. Great review! Glad to hear you liked it because I loved it! I agree about the beginning. It took over 100 pages to get into the story and it put me in a little slump, but I’m glad the book got over that. 😀
    You’re right about the world-building. It was just incredible – Taylor really outdid herself. Can’t wait for the next book!

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    • Thank you! I was already feeling slumpy when I started this book so it took me foreeeever to really, actually start it. I’m glad I persevered, though – like you said, it was incredible for sure. I also can’t wait for the next book. 🙌

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  7. I want to read this one so bad! I swear every review I see makes me wish I had a copy of it but alas I don’t at the moment. I adore myth-based fantasies and I already know I adore Laini’s writing. I’ve heard a lot that it takes people a while to get into this one though. Which is something I’ll keep in mind because I can be an impatient reader at times. Either way, I’m so glad you ended up enjoying this one. Great review as always, Reg!! 😁♥

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    • Aww, I wish you had a copy too! Are you planning on getting one any time soon?

      Yeah, it’s definitely one of those books that take a while for you to really get into the story – I’ve been reading the same thing from many reviewers. I’m impatient too, but I think with this book the wait is quite worth it, so I hope you like it just as much as I did when you get to it. 💖

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      • Definitely! If I don’t hit a fantasy slump after May I’ll be reading this one and The Night Circus. 😁 (Or at least I plan to at the moment)
        It’s good to hear that it’s worth sticking with to really get into the story. I hope I like it as much as you did too! ♥

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  8. I read and really enjoyed this one too! It was so well written and read like a fairy tale! I loved the characters, especially Lazlo! The plot however was slow and got confusing at some points as she wasn’t able to explain the setting as well as I hoped. But glad to hear you enjoyed this Reg and thanks for the review! ❤

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    • Yeees, “fairytale” describes it so well! It’s just got that mythical feel to it that not all fantasy books give you. I agree though that it got somewhat confusing at times because there were just SO MANY THINGS going on with so many different people… I suppose we’ll have a better experience with the second book, hopefully. 😂

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  9. I’m so glad you enjoyed this so much! Taylor always impresses me with her wonderfully constructed world-building and gorgeous writing, so it’s great to hear that this book was no different. Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ❤

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  10. I’m so excited to read this. I haven’t read anything by Laini Taylor so I think i want to read her other books first and see how I get on with them and then move onto this after. I’ve heard the most amazing things about this book though. I’ve only recently really gotten into fantasy so I don’t know if I’ll struggle with the intense world building but I’ll still definitely give it a go! Great review ❤

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    • I’ve only read DoSaB and have to admit that I’m not a big fan of that book (though there were some things I really liked about it too). I hope you give this one a chance, though – I’m not sure if it’s the best “beginner’s fantasy” book, but it’s quite solid. 💖

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  11. Thank you for such an HONEST review Reg! After seeing nothing but 5 star reviews, I was starting to wonder if this book was in fact as perfect as everyone makes it out to be. I just wanted to let you know how much I always appreciate and trust your reviews 🙂 I do think I will give this one a go in the future, and I definitely appreciate the heads up about the heavy writing and the insta-love.

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    • Thanks so much, Amanda; that means a lot to me! I was probably affected by the hype as well – I was expecting it to be AMAZING and it certainly was at parts, but it wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read or anything like that, haha. I’d still recommend it, though. 😂

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  12. I gave this 4 stars too!! Totally agree with you on how almost /exhausting/ this was to read at times. It took me a month!?!?! HAHA. It was just so intricate and detailed whilst bordering on extremely dreamlike that I could only read a few chapters at time. It was so so unique and magical though so I still really enjoyed it a lot. Wonderful review like always, Reg ♥

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    • Thanks, Lauren! OMG it took me like a month too, but I stopped for really long times in between big-ish chunks of reading. It was worth it in the end, but man, I had to try. 🤣

      Dreamlike is a good word to describe it though… and a pun, too. It definitely feels like that throughout the entire story.

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