Saturday, March 2, 2019

The Dreamers

Title:  The Dreamers
Author:  Karen Thomspon Walker
Publication Information:  Random House. 2019. 320 pages.
ISBN:  0812994167 / 978-0812994162

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "At first, they blame the air."

Favorite Quote:  "Sometimes a big fear can magnify the smaller ones."

Santa Lora, California is a small town on the edge of a lake surrounded by forests. One road leads in and out of the town. The heart of the town is the college. A quiet, dreamy setting. One day, stranger things begin to happen. A young woman falls asleep and cannot be woken. It is deemed an isolated case. Then, another case occurs, and another. It is deemed localized to a floor of a dorm at the college. The students on that floor are isolated. Then, a case outside occurs and another and another and another. It reach epidemic proportions for town. Then, it is deemed necessary to contain it to the town. Does it spread beyond? Does it not?

The book centers on a few main characters. A young woman whose roommate is the first to be stricken. An idealist college student who is not quite who he seems to be. A couple with a precious young baby. However, the story grows exponentially larger as more and more people are introduced and as the sickness spreads. These individuals - the professor and his family, the clerk at the store, the business people who happened to be in town, the doctor who comes to treat and study the disease, and more. Their stories are introduced but don't really develop into much.

The first three quarters of the book and the ending of the book go in completely different directions. The bulk of the story is about a disease, its spread, efforts to contain it, and the stories of those impacted. It is the reactions of people - both positive and negative. Some of those not stricken rise to the occasion and prove themselves heroes.  It is a struggle to survive and protect those we love.

The ending of the book goes in an entirely philosophical directions implied by the title word "dreamers." Without a spoiler, let's just say it suggests bigger, metaphysical questions that are posed but not answered. In other words, it leaves you wondering both about the grander questions and the pragmatic questions about the virus itself.

Both directions of the book are interesting and can make for a great read on their own. Most of the book suggests a science fiction race against time to save a town and its inhabitants. The book never quite gets to the level of intensity of the science fiction thriller, however. There is almost a quietness and matter of fact nature to the events. The focus remains repeated incidents of more and more people getting the sickness, and the containment facilities getting larger and larger. There does not really seem to be a sense of danger or an urgency to find a cure. Yet, the book reads with the potential of what could be there.

The ending focuses on those stricken and could be developed into an entire tale of the experiences of the stricken. Again, the book does not go there but simmer with the potential of that story. It can be imagined.

The potential in the story and the pace keeps me reading to the last page. The book does not ever really reach that potential, but it proves entertaining nevertheless.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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