The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
Published by: Random House on January 15th, 2019
Genre: Fiction, Science Fiction
Source: Borrowed from the library
Summary (from Goodreads): In an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a freshman girl stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics who carry her away, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. Then a second girl falls asleep, and then another, and panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. As the number of cases multiplies, classes are canceled, and stores begin to run out of supplies. A quarantine is established. The National Guard is summoned.
Mei, an outsider in the cliquish hierarchy of dorm life, finds herself thrust together with an eccentric, idealistic classmate. Two visiting professors try to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. A father succumbs to the illness, leaving his daughters to fend for themselves. And at the hospital, a new life grows within a college girl, unbeknownst to her—even as she sleeps. A psychiatrist, summoned from Los Angeles, attempts to make sense of the illness as it spreads through the town. Those infected are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, more than has ever been recorded. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?
Review: My first book of 2020! I loved this story. As soon as I heard it was about some weird sickness involving sleep and dreams I knew I had to pick it up as soon as possible. (Open for pandemic book recommendations if you got ’em!)
It’s very hard to write a review for this. As each character you get to know succumbs to the sickness you read about the dreams specific to that character. With these little vignettes you get to know a slice about this one character. What’s interesting about all the characters that you’re introduced to is that you only get to know them a very small bit. There is not enough time to get drawn into their life, who they are, and form a true opinion.
Part of me really wants to know the scientific aspect of this pandemic — how it started, the transmission, etc. What the scientists found during this time but part of the magic of this book is the magic of unknowing and just watching the narrative unfold.
A particular character has this thing they like to ask people and the way it unfolded later in the book had my jaw drop and proclaim “holy shit — I don’t care how this ends, 5 stars”.
Definitely interested in picking up other works by Walker, like Age of Miracles.