Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)by Laini Taylor Published 28 Mar 2017
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|Publisher||Little, Brown Books for Young Readers|
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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 or 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?
Welcome to Weep.
"Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1)" Reviews
Have you ever loved a book so much that it completely fills your soul, warms your heart, and heals your broken pieces?
Because that's Strange the Dreamer.
“On the second Sabbat of Twelfthmoon, in the city of Weep, a girl fell from the sky. Her skin was blue, her blood was red.”
This is that rare type of book that, while reading, is a constant reminder of why you fell in love with reading in the first place. This book is perfection. This book is a tangible piece of joy. The feeling while reading this is indescribable, but the closest word choice would have to be pure bliss.
This isn't the type of book to come around often. In fact, the last time I felt this was back in 2015 with The Name of the Wind, and the same feeling of guilt from giving other books five star ratings is here again. This book is so much greater than five stars. Yet, this book feels unratable, because how do you rate perfection instead of just feeling at a loss of words because of its awe?
I don't see how anything I'll read in 2017 can beat this. Not A Court of Wings and Ruin, not Tyrant's Throne, not Skullsworn, not All the Crooked Saints, not The Chosen, not anything. Just throw my 2017 anticipation list away, because Strange the Dreamer was all I needed this year.
“Two hundred years ago, there was a storm.”
I truly believe the best way to go into this book is blind, I wouldn't even read the synopsis, but the basic premise of this story is that we are introduced to an orphan, who has always been ostracized for being different, and he is constantly dreaming of the Unseen City that everyone else has long forgotten. He grows up, and moves locations, but the mystery city is always on his mind. Then, he finally gets confirmation that the Unseen City is very real and very much in need of help.
Surprise mystery after surprise mystery, eloquent word construction after more eloquent word construction, plot twist after plot twist, and you will become so immersed in this world that you will feel like you yourself have lived in the Unseen City all your life.
I will say that this book does have a really strong romance. In fact, it probably has one of the biggest OTPS I've ever read. Like, I'm real invested. Probably too invested. There is also *gasp* sex in this book, and is dealt with in such a realistic and natural way, while also being very believable, because these characters are seventeen-years-old and are discovering their bodies for the first time. But don't go into this expecting A Court of Mist and Fury's sex scenes, but go into this knowing that it is an older YA book with mature themes that are amazingly written. Again, I'm too emotionally invested in these fictional characters.
“She asked in a hesitant whisper, “Do you still think I’m a… a singularly unhorrible demon?” “No,” he said, smiling. “I think you’re a fairy tale. I think you’re magical, and brave, and exquisite. And…” His voice grew bashful. Only in a dream could he be so bold and speak such words. “I hope you’ll let me be in your story.”
➽ The Plot - This story is so unique, like, take my breath away, how did a human even come up with this, unique. The themes brought up are so important, and the messages will stick with you. The plot is engaging, addicting, and nothing short of phenomenal.
➽ The Writing - I kind of want to just write "Laini Taylor is Queen" and leave it at that. The only other person I can compare her writing style to is Maggie Stiefvater. Lyrical writing speaks to my very soul, but Laini Taylor's craft is so perfected that she weaves these heart stopping, unbelievable lines that are so poetic that just leaves me with my mouth open, my breath gone, and my heart pounding. This writing will make you feel as if you are dreaming, and you'll never confuse it with a nightmare. Laini Taylor's writing is a tier above anything I've ever read. Anything.
➽ The World - Again, like the plot, the world is so unique and so well crafted. The settings are enough to fill even the most empty of hearts. We have libraries, books upon books, story after story, a mysterious city with an even more mysterious water source running underneath it, mythical armies, demons and angels, domination and salvation. And we have magic, and the magic system in this world is a little random, but learning about all the different possibilities was fascinating. Again, something I became addicted over.
➽ The Characters - *breaks down in tears* I can't. The two main protagonists of this story, Lazlo and Sarai, are everything you could ever want and then more. They are empathetic, helpful, resistant, persistent, hopeful, even in the most bleak of situations, and capable of unconditional love. This story is also filled with gods and goddesses, a lot of ghosts, and maybe a few monsters. Oh, and moths. How I love the moths.
➽ The Messages - You can take a lot from Strange the Dreamer, but two messages are very predominant throughout this book. The first message is about race and how we treat and blame others dependent on their skin color based on bad things that other people with that skin color have done. Welcome to America, what ban attempt are we up to now? The next message, and the biggest constant theme of this novel, is that we are not our parent's/ancestor's mistakes. Everyone can change and everyone can be/do better. It is never too late to do good.
“Sarai was seventeen years old, a goddess and a girl. Half her blood was human, but it counted for nothing. She was blue. She was godspawn. She was anathema. She was young. She was lovely. She was afraid.”
This book is beyond words with its perfection. I loved every aspect of it, and the only legitimate negative thing I have to say is that Strange the Dreamer makes a very unfortunate abbreviation. And as much as that makes me giggle while taking notes, that's honestly it.
Thank you, Laini Taylor, for a book I will carry in my heart for the rest of my life. This is the best thing I've read in years, and I will never forget this story, these characters, or its message. This book is a love letter to story lovers everywhere, and I recommend this book to everyone with every fiber of my being. Also, I'm buying this for everyone for Christmas, so if you're my friends or family reading this, pretend to be surprised.
No other title in 2018 will come close to the anticipation I feel for The Muse of Nightmares. Please, Lord, help me and my very fragile heart with the wait.
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[Update: July 26th, 2017]
You can never have too many copies of your favorite book! 📖🦋✨
It was impossible, of course.
But when did that ever stop any dreamer from dreaming?
Oh hell, it was gorgeous perfection.
I've been away for a while because I'm on vacation, but I just had to step back in and review this completely strange, utterly beautiful book. I've been waiting so long for Laini Taylor to steal my heart once more, and Strange the Dreamer does not disappoint.
It's so tempting when reviewing Taylor's books to talk about the writing style and language. Because it's stunning. I don’t know where the line between purple and beautiful prose should be drawn, but I do know that Laini Taylor stands just on the right side of it. The very sentences themselves feel magical and dreamy, creating an atmosphere that convinces you you've been transported to another world.
There's a timeless fairy tale quality to her writing, too; it’s *almost* too much, *almost* too poetic, and yet somehow it is just perfect. I also particularly loved the running theme of dreamers and dreaming here:
It was why she dared no longer dream: because in her own sleep she was like any dreamer, at the mercy of her unconscious. When she fell asleep, she was no sorceress or dark enthralled, but just a sleeping girl with no control over the terrors within her.
Okay, where was I? See what I mean? You can get all caught up in the writing and lose your trail of thought. But my point was that while it's tempting to go on and on about Taylor's writing, it does a disservice to the fantastic storytelling underneath. Because, personally, you can wax poetic until you're blue in the face, but if I'm not interested in the characters and underlying story/conflicts, I'll be left feeling cold.
No need to worry about that here.
Strange the Dreamer opens with the orphaned Lazlo. Though a big dreamer, he is a junior librarian and, let's face it, probably never going to turn his dreams into anything more than just that. Ah, but no! Because this orphan is about to have his life turned upside down when his biggest, wildest dream comes closer than ever before.
You see, when Lazlo was young, the name of the lost, mythical city was stolen from everyone's minds. He knows he once knew the Unseen City's real name, but the word left in its place is Weep. No matter how he struggles to remember, all he hears is the same old "Weep". Obsessed with discovering what happened, he spends his adolescence researching the city, trying desperately to find anything about it, longing to one day visit the city himself.
And, of course, like all bold dreamers of fantasy, he will get a chance to go on a magical journey and maybe, just maybe, make his dreams come true. I won't give away any more than that. This is a fairly long book and many things happen, but it's best to discover them for yourself and on the author's terms.
Strange the Dreamer is so unique in its rich world-building, its wonderfully-conceived story of gods, goddesses, ghosts, magic, romance, secrets and guilt, but there is an old tale lurking beneath - that of the orphaned underdog who wanted to be so much more. And whether it is an unloved boy with a scar, stuck in a closet beneath the stairs, who gets to be a powerful wizard, or a nerdy photographer who gets bitten by a spider and learns to be a hero, this is a story that never ceases to appeal to me.
How nice it is to be reminded that magic and dreams can come true. With some darkness, nightmares and bloodshed along the way, of course.
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Audio re-read was freaking awesome!
Had to get the UK Version & my bookmark from my favorite place on Etsy. Yay!
This book is amazing! That's just all there is to it. ❤ Laini Taylor is amaze balls!
When I got this beautiful book from UPS I about fell over. It is so freaking beautiful. The cover is so shiny and no amount of pictures can do it justice. You just have to see it for yourself.
This book is so full of everything. How do I even review a book that is all over and made me sad and took me to a strange and mystical world.
Lazlo Strange, whom I love, was an orphan boy who went on an errand to The Great Library and never returned. He loved books and was lost in them until he was found and they just kept him on instead of sending him back to the home. He became a librarian. But he was obsessed with the story of Weep and what happened there. He spent years writing his own journals about the place.
Lazlo was know as "Strange The Dreamer" or Lazlo Strange. But he wasn't strange at all and the things he found out helped him later on. Sometimes dreams can come true.
I'm going to Weep, he thought, and could have laughed at the pun, but he kept his composure, and when the Tizerkane warriors rode out of the Great Library and out of Zosma, Strange the dreamer went with them.
I'm not going to give out any kind of spoilers because this is a book you need to discover on your own. It's freaking amaze balls! Did I already say that?
I will say there are a good bit of characters in the book, nothing confusing, but my favorites are Lazlo and Sarai. ❤
Laini Taylor can write some beautiful words.
Weep slept. Dreamers dreamed. A grand moon drifted, and the wings of the citadel cut the sky in two: light above, dark below.
Sarai is something else but I'm not going to tell you what she is and there are others like her. There is a really sad story behind all of that as well. But Sarai is wonderful and kind and different.
Streaming forth into the night, the darkness fractured into a hundred fluttering bits like windblown scraps of velvet. A hundred smithereens of darkness, they broke apart and re-formed and siphoned themselves into a little typhoon that swept down toward the rooftops of Weep, whirling and wheeling on soft twilight wings.
Sarai screamed moths. Moths and her own mind, pulled into a hundred pieces and flung out into the world.
Seriously, if you have wanted to get this book, get it and I hope you love it. I didn't understand every little bit about the book but that's okay because I still loved it. ❤
Of course that ending . . . and there is so much more going on in the book but like I said, you need to read it and feel the magic. I don't even know where Laini Taylor comes up with this stuff. Just the way she writes is surreal.
Now we have to a wait a billion years to get the next one. *Sob*
MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
*Reread Apr 2017
This time I actually finished it, I listened to the audiobook, and it was better but still lots of unnecessary filler that prevented me from really getting into the story. Really sad I didn't enjoy it more but oh well, I gave it a fair shot!
*DNF Jan 2017
I never, like literally never, DNF books but this is one that I just couldn't do. I was so incredibly confused the whole time I read it. It was so all over the place I couldn't even bring myself to read any further. DNFed @ pg 150. Rating is obviously based on what I read.
*Thank you to Indigo for sending me this ARC! All opinions are my own*
*Full Review Update*
I honestly still don't know what to rate this, so I'm going with 3.5 stars.
Wow, so it took me nearly two months to finish this book. Here's the thing. The writing quite literally slays, and so does the characterization. My struggle was this: Half the time, I was sitting there in awe, thinking 'This is the best book EVER WRITTEN' ahhh. The other half? It felt like wading through mud. Sparkly, very very pretty mud, but mud nonetheless. There would be pages and pages of descriptions - and while they were mind blowing, I was dyyinggg for the story to start.
So just a heads up - it takes about half way or maybe even more for anything to even start happening. The pace didn't pick up until like 80%.
My recommendation? If you're a writer (or aspiring writer) - this is a must read. For sure. But be prepared going into it. I think I've highlighted half the book because of how pretty and raw the sentences were. It was poetic at times and short and raw at others. Such an interesting combination I feel like I've learned a ton and I owe Laini a great deal for that.
Lazlo Strange is easily one of the most tender and relatable characters in YA lit. He was precious down to the bone, and I swear I don't think anyone could read about him and not fall in love. From the very first page, too. He sucks you in quick. His fascination of 'Weep' becomes the reader's fascination of weep. It's impossible not to feel Lazlo's emotions.
As far as the other characters - same deal. They all felt real. I loved Sarai even though she didn't have a huge personality. Her abilities are super dark but super cool and I was totally rooting for her. I also liked to see the interaction with the other... 'gods' or whatever they were. I love how they each had distinguishable personalities. What I didn't love? Their POV talking about next to nothing.
Anyway, like I said, the pacing is extremely slow and I think the characters are the entire reason I stuck around. If it hadn't been for them, I would have just picked it up occasionally to get some writing inspiration.
The world building was also phenomenally done, (albeit weird at times with the metal thing). But cool. Okay, does anyone remember watching 'The Little Princess' as a kid? That movie was what spurred my obsession with Indian Folklore. I would chain watch that movie over and over again because of the blue goddess love story and ahhhh this book brought back memories of that and of other stories I used to love. Ugh see? This is my issue. I would have loved this book so much more -perhaps even cried over it- if the pacing had been better.
So here I sit with mixed feelings. So much greatness. So much brilliance. And yet it took me months to get through it.
Take what you will from that!
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I TRULY DO NOT HAVE WORDS FOR HOW MUCH BEAUTIFUL PERFECTION THIS BOOK IS. I need more stars to give it omg. I honestly feel like this is the most beautifully written book of ever....the words!??? The marvellous exquisite combination of words just!???? IT SLAYED ME. It's all gods and monsters and librarians and the most lush and gorgeous dream landscapes and I cannnnn't. I just can't with how wholly i loved it. I got to this point reading it and was just like "I never want this book to end thanks."
OKAY BUT CAN WE TALK ABOUT LAZLO STRANGE FOR A MINUTE?!? Aka the most precious hufflepuff in existence. He is so sweet and pure and good and lovely and jfadskaldjaklj. I love him. I love how his nose got broken by a fairy tale book and that he'll walk into a wall because he's reading so much and how his whole life is about fantastical lost cities and how he dreams the most beautiful and gorgeous dreams the world has ever known. HE IS PERFECT. And relatable. Because book lover. And also 10/10 for how dorky he was.
The world doesn't deserve the preciousness of Lazlo Strange.
(Also his name is so fabulous.)
(Also he dreams himself dragon wings so also I am Lazlo Strange.)
And I absolutely adored Sarai too, who is a blue-skinned godspawn. She's hiding from the world that wants her dead because of her horrifically cruel goddess mother. But she is pURE and gOOD too. And I just want to give her a cake. She hasn't had a cake in year and goddammit please someone give Sarai a cake.
But what really caught me is the writing. Usually I would be dead with so much flowery prose but I wasn't. I absolutely loved it. It totally swallowed my MIND and I just couldn't stop thinking "I wnat to live in this book." Every word was so perfectly chosen that I was devoured by the story. I've never seen a city so clearly as I see Weep. I THINK LAINI TAYLOR MIGHT BE ABLE TO DO TRUE MAGIC. JUST SAYIN'.
This is all about magic and gods and monsters which is 100000% my kind of story. Also dEATh and destruction and psychotic little girls who catch ghosts and legends inside legends and great monsters and beasts and cruel pasts and terrified warriors and god slayers and quiet librarian boys and falling girls with flowers in their hair and -- I JUST -- AJFKDLSAFDJKJKDFSJ.
I do think it's not YA though. I read a fair bit of adult fantasy and this read far more like adult. Plus Lazlo is like 20, so.
And there were a few things that weren't my favourite but I'm kind of like "OH WHO CARES I STILL ADORE IT WITH ALL MY SOCKS" to the situation. But:
• it is rather omnipresent so head-bopping happened a lot
• and it has a pretty smack-in-the-face dose of instalove
• except i ship it so bad jafdksld help me
SPOILERS ABOUT LAZLO:
You know? I could just flail forever over how much I loved it. I don't even think you should know too much about the storyline, because it's pure perfection to watch it unravel with Lazlo. <3 But honestly I want to read more books with sweet boys and nightmare girls. I want more books that melt my soul with the most fantastically marvellous writing in the world. I want books that make me DREAM and be inspired to greatness. I FEEL LIKE WRITING A THOUSAND FAIRY TALES AND CONQUERING THE MOON AND FLYING AWAY ON DRAGON WINGS NOW. And a book that steals your heart and your imagination is the perfect kind of book.
NOTE: I listened to the audiobook and it worked SO well for me. Usually I read too fast, so I think I woudn't have appreciated the lush detailed writing if I hadn't have gone with the audio. Plus it's Steve West who has a gorgeous accent omg. <3 (And narrated The Scorpio Races as Sean so excuse me while Sean and Lazlo are the same and I'm in love.) (But also I listen to it on 2 x the speed ahem. Otherwise I would've lost at least 87 braincells at how slow he reads.)