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Review: Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith

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Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith // VBC Dreamstrider
Lindsay Smith
Published: Oct. 6, 2015 (Roaring Book Press)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Amy

Rating (out of 5): 4.5 stars

Livia was born a tunneler. In the Barstadt Empire where dreams prevail and people look to the Dreamer for guidance, tunnelers are the lowest of the low. When it’s discovered Livia is a Dreamstrider, she’s given an opportunity to see her dreams come to fruition.

Livia will be working for the ministry. With her Dreamstriding abilities, Livia is able to infiltrate a person’s consciousness on the dreaming plane, Oneiros, while in the real world her consciousness inhabits the dreamer’s body.

Fast-forward eight years later and Livia is still the only Dreamstrider known to exist. Unfortunately, her talent hasn’t exactly been flawless, and her superiors are quick to remind Livia where she comes from and where she can just as easily go back if she continues on this path. Still, for now, she’s what they have to work with, and even though Livia knows her own shortcomings she never wants to return to the tunnels again.

When a plot against Barstadt is discovered, Livia, her partner Brandt, along with Marez and Kriza (envoys from a neighboring kingdom) will have to work together in order to avoid war. When Marez starts to show Livia what life could be like for her outside of Barstadt, she begins to question all her dreams.

Dreamstrider really reminded me a lot of Leigh Bardugos Shadow and Bone. The heroines from both come from less fortunate backgrounds and discover abilities that put them in a position where they’re somewhat revered. Regardless, though, they still don’t feel like they belong. The difference being that, by the time Dreamstrider begins, Livia has lived with her abilities for years, but the expectations of her superiors are far too high for Livia to ever live up to.

Lindsay Smith gives a great voice to the somewhat cliché mantras ‘believe in yourself’ and ‘don’t give up on your hopes and dreams’. Essentially these are what Livia’s conflicts boil down to throughout the entirety of the story.

Livia’s struggles are mirrored within the love triangle (and I use the term loosely). Livia has had feelings for her partner Brandt practically since the first day they met. Coming from the aristocracy, Brandt represents both Livia’s past and present, everything she associates with failure. She feels unworthy of him, and because of this she will never tell him her true feelings. Then along comes Marez. He’s new and makes Livia think in terms of the future. He makes her feel like she could be worthy of everything she dreams of. Not usually being a fan of the love triangle, if this is the way Lindsay Smith typically handles them, I would read them any day of the week.

Of course, all of Livia’s internal struggles coincide with huge political and spiritual upheaval. Not only is Barstadt on the verge of war, but the dream world is threatened by the awakening of Nightmare. I loved the play on the real and the metaphysical. How dreams are your, literal, dreams, but the Dreamer is also a being of higher power.

I think the dreams aspect of the book was great, since, you know, dreaming is kind of universal. The back-and-forth between reality and Oneiros could have been a mess, but I think Lindsay Smith handles these scenes beautifully. Because of this, we get a story and concept that feels really fresh with Dreamstrider.

Sexual content: Kissing

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