- Age Range: 12 - 18 years
- Grade Level: 7 and up
- Lexile Measure: 850 (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (October 6, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1626720428
- ISBN-13: 978-1626720428
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.3 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,639,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dreamstrider Hardcover – October 6, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Livia has the unique ability to inhabit other people's bodies. She was born a tunneler, the lowest class in the Barstadt Empire, and laments that "I always dreamed too big, too bright, too much." The Professor she cleans for recognizes her unique dreaming ability and teaches her to dreamstride. While her body is asleep, she can inhabit another person's sleeping body, hijack their memories, and impersonate them for short periods of time. She is hired by the Emperor's secret police to work as an operative with his spy network. While dreamstriding in the shared dreamworld of Oneiros, she uncovers information about a plot by a neighboring nation to invade Barstadt. If she succeeds in stopping the invasion, she'll get her citizenship papers and earn her freedom. Dreamstriding is very dangerous because if she can't get back into her body in time, she'll be lost in Oneiros's Nightmare Wastes. The Barstadt Empire's very distinct social stratification is well developed, as are all the characters, with the villains being particularly intriguing. Gender diversity is organically worked into the text, and several of the main characters are gay or bisexual. Livia's a very appealing protagonist. Her self-doubt about her abilities, struggle to overcome her low social class, love for a man she can't have, and desire to find the strength to resist the Nightmare Wastes and embrace her destiny will engage readers and leave them rooting for her to succeed. VERDICT An engaging stand-alone fantasy spy thriller.—Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Library, Trenton
“Tense action and rich worldbuilding make for thrilling reading.” ―Kirkus
"With its intriguing world, taut narrative, and complex heroine, this well-wrought fantasy charms from the start."―BCCB
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Top customer reviews
The world building can make or break a fantasy novel, and Dreamstrider was rich with immersive lore. When you can slide right into an interesting, but completely different world, it’s so good! The level of detail was perfect to keep me intrigued and comfortable understanding the nuances of Livia’s world.
The blending of magic and science was delightfully creative. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just say that the entire concept of dreamstriding really piqued my interest. The writing was lyrical and vivid (I can’t tell you how many times I had to stop myself from underlining a sentence), which served to deepen the whole experience.
The villain was unusual, and I appreciated the exploration of concepts like gods, challenging/ examining one’s religious beliefs, and truly valuing oneself. I do think that a few things were on the predictable or ~that was easy~ side, but it didn’t lower my enjoyment of the book to much.
Dreamstrider was a GREAT read, and if it wasn’t on your TBR yet, it should be now!
Our main character Livia was so refreshing compared to many other YA heroines. She was flawed in so many ways and not the best or brightest, but still did things herself and attempted to be independent. I also really enjoyed the other characters around Livia, including Vera, Brandt, and even Professor Hesse. They each added to the story and helped explained both what was currently happening and past events. I also appreciated that while there is romance in this book, that is not the focal point (and bonus points for no insta-love). This was more about Livia learning about herself and about protecting her home country.
Other than the deficits in world-building, I did not have any major issues with this book as a whole. The ending seemed a little rushed, but again that is somewhat expected in a standalone. And I know that is not a good excuse but there are so few standalones, especially in fantasy and paranormal genres, that I really do appreciate the books that are.
That being said, I would love another book in this world. It doesn't even have to follow the same characters. I'm just fascinated both by the idea of dreamstriding and the different cultures we are exposed to in this world. You have the Tunnelers and the Barstadt Empire, along with the two neighboring kingdoms.
There are three main countries in this book, all at the brink of war with each other. I loved the different and distinct identities these countries had. Barstadt believes in the Dreamer and has a caste system. The elite caste lives above ground with every amenity while the tunnelers, the lowest of the low, live below ground, essentially as slaves, without even citizenship. Farthing is much more liberal. They believe that their citizens should be free to feel the whole range of emotions. Farthing is home of pirates and scoundrels. The final kingdom is the Land of the Iron Winds. The Land of the Iron Winds is much more militant than the other two with a Commandant instead of an Emperor who rules with an iron fist.
The entire story is based around political intrigue. It's a little different than most because the spying is intertwined with the dreamstriding. Liv, and her ability, are integral to all of the plotting. This story really reminded me of the Kushiel's Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey, which is also very much about spies, court manipulation, and pretending to be something that you are not. I loved the mystery of it all. Trying to figure out what people's true motives were and who you can trust.
I was shocked when I got to the end and realized that this was a single story, not a series. That's so rare these days. Especially because this book was so good. Everything is all wrapped up but there are so may things that I would love to know more about. Farthing for instance! I would love to a companion novel set there. I'm really hoping that this isn't the end of this world after all.
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