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
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?
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.