Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

36187690Verdict: I don’t even know.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Published by Hodder & Stoughton, 2017

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Find it on Goodreads.

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.

I am in two minds about this book: for the first 200 pages or so, I was in love. After that, not so much. Therefore, here are my thoughts, first in list form then more elaborate:

Pros:

  • Prose
  • world-building
  • Lazlo

Cons:

  • Pacing
  • Plot
  • Insta-love.

Laini Taylor has created a wonderfully vivid world here. The glimpses she provides are mesmerizing and exciting, however, I did not find that she took the world to the necessary conclusions for it to really work for me. Lazlo Strange (named that way like all other orphans with no name) is a librarian and dreamer: he has always dreamed of the unnamed city whose name has been stolen. Ridiculed and with his head in the clouds he seems set on an ordinary life when one day a convoy from that lost city arrives and his dreams of visiting become true. The world Laini Taylor conjures is brilliant but not always quite cruel enough. I could not stop comparing it to N. K. Jemisin’s Inheritance trilogy with similar themes which is much stronger. I am super intrigued to see where Laini Taylor takes her story next though and the potential for this world to become a favourite is there.

You can tell that Laini Taylor constructs her sentences with care and they are a thing of beauty; in the beginning I found the prose lush and intoxicating until suddenly it did not work for me anymore. The plot suffers from the wordiness of the prose and her pacing is off because every single little thing needs to be described with very many words. Beautiful words, as I say, but sometimes unnecessary words. I think the book would have been much stronger had it been at least 100 pages shorter.

I adore Lazlo though and loved to spend time with him; he is steadfast and loyal and most importantly kind and genuinely good in a way that characters are not often allowed to be. I adored this and my heart hurts thinking about where his story will go next.

One of my main issues will probably be only an issue for me: the book becomes romance heavy in a way that I don’t enjoy in my books. I fundamentally did not believe the progression of the love and that is a problem; especially with regards to the ending.

PS: I have also found a new pet peeve: this book’s (and the second book’s) title are used ad nauseam here and it drove me up the walls. If I have to hear either the phrase “Strange the Dreamer” or “Muse of Nightmares” one more time, I will scream.

7 thoughts on “Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

  1. Excellent review, Hannah! I have been considering picking this book up with all the Muse of Nightmares hype and your review was perfect – no spoilers but gave me the critical information I need. I don’t like insta-love either, but this sounds like a book I should give a try.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely review and well summarised! I totally agree with all your points, especially “I am in two minds about this book: for the first 200 pages or so, I was in love. After that, not so much” as I had similar ‘problems’ with the book. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to reading book 2 as the world and the story have so much potential.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I am for sure also looking forward to the second book. Laini Taylor has a wonderful way with words and with worlds. And I really really need to know what happens next.

      Liked by 1 person

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