I received this galley in consideration for an honest review.Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith
Published by Macmillan on October 6, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Livia is a dreamstrider. She can inhabit a subject's body while they are sleeping and, for a short time, move around in their skin. She uses her talent to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. But her partner, Brandt, has lately become distant, and when Marez comes to join their team from a neighboring kingdom, he offers Livia the option of a life she had never dared to imagine. Livia knows of no other dreamstriders who have survived the pull of Nightmare. So only she understands the stakes when a plot against the Empire emerges that threatens to consume both the dreaming world and the waking one with misery and rage.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Dreamstrider, but I knew from the jacket copy that it was going to be different than anything I had read lately, and I was right! Livia has a very rare ability and it has lifted her out of a horrifying existence as a Tunneler and into spy work for the kingdom of Barstadt. However, her missions aren’t what you would call your run of the mill espionage because she basically inhabits the bodies of her marks while they sleep. Livia’s team all comes from a much higher social standing than her, but it seems that she is the only one that is hyper aware of this difference. Her status as a non-citizen Tunnler means that she must work and impress her director enough to make her a full citizen, which adds a sense of urgency to her personal story.
The society that Livia lives in worships dreams to the point that their god is called Dreamer. The world of Oneiros, where you go while you dream, can only be lucidly accessed by certain people. I found this to be the most compelling part of the story. The realm where you go while you sleep and the mythology surrounding Nightmare, or their version of an absence of good, was well thought out and added a lot of depth to the setting of the book. The war in which they engage takes place in both the waking world and the sleeping world, so it has some Matrix and Inception type elements to it, which I enjoyed. Livia’s desire to live a normal life and to have the normal freedoms that all of their friends take for granted, play into some of the critical decisions she makes. Her own self doubt feeds the evil they are fighting, and I really loved the way her personal journey ran parallel to Barstadt’s desperate quest to stop the plot they uncovered. Dreamstrider was part spy novel, part romance, and part story of self-discovery, and it all came together as a book that I found quite engaging. This was an unusual story, but I was continually fascinated by the world and impressed with the world building, so it worked for me. If you are a fan of intricate and interesting science fiction, this stand-alone should definitely be on your reading list.