Compassionate, moving dystopian novel


The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

Book Review:  4 out of 5 star rating

A mysterious epidemic starts with a young college girl falling asleep and no one can wake her.  Then another student falls asleep and then another.  Panic begins to spread.  What could be causing this strange occurrence and how far will it spread?  Doctors notice heightened dream activity in these sleepers.  People are falling asleep in dangerous places, behind the wheel of a car, out in a drifting boat or alone and forgotten.  The caretakers of the sleeping are now falling asleep and there are too many sleepers for those awake to help.

What I really liked about this book were the individual stories of the families in this town.  Mei, the roommate of the first student to fall asleep, was a favorite character.  She was a bit of an outcast before the epidemic struck, never quite fitting in.  She teams up with another student as they attempt to be of help to the most people that they can and their affection for each other starts to grow.  A young baby may have been exposed to the virus through donated breast milk.  A survivalist finds he’s not as prepared for such an emergency as he had thought he was and his young daughters are left to fend for themselves.  One of the college students became pregnant the night before she succumbed to this unusual sleep, the growing baby unknown to her.

As much as I enjoyed these characters and their private battles with the virus, the book grew even more interesting when it was revealed what the dreamers were dreaming about.  Thought-provoking questions about consciousness and time are opened up.  Which is reality and which is the dream?  The book is written in a dreamlike way that was quite fascinating.

The only negative thing I can say about the book is that I felt like I was reading a YA book at first since it dealt with the college students and life on campus.  But it soon grew into something much deeper.

This is a well written, compassionate and moving dystopian novel.  Recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.