Published: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Strange the Dreamer #1
Pages: 544 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 5.0/5.0
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.
“He read while he walked. He read while he ate. The other librarians suspected he somehow read while he slept, or perhaps didn’t sleep at all.”
Strange the Dreamer was my introduction to Laini Taylor’s writing and storytelling skills and boy, what a stellar first impression! I was hooked by the first chapter- the idea of a lost city with a lost name is such an enticing concept. I’ll admit, I turned into a starry-eyed dreamer myself for awhile there.
When people blather about authors having “lyrical prose” I typically call BS and go on with my life. HOWEVER, Laini Taylor really does have prose that practically sings to you- it’s enchanting! I would place Strange the Dreamer in the top tiers with my favorite fantasy novels despite it being categorized as a Young Adult novel because it’s definitely of a higher caliber than the usual YA fantasy. The world as a whole is somewhat underdeveloped, but the city of Weep and its culture are well-defined. The whole world is enchanting and promises new discoveries around every corner, but the real treat here are the characters.
Lazlo Strange was orphaned as a young child and grew up in the care of first monks and then librarians. You may consider him an expert on the city lost in the sands of a distant desert that is now called Weep, though Lazlo recalls when it had a different name. How is it that a name could simply disappear? His quest for knowledge and his kindheartedness has led him to become an integral part in the stories of others, but Lazlo has a chance to be present in his own story when a man leading the Taizakain warriors of Weep arrives and requests help with an unnamed problem. The second perspective is that of Sarai, a Mesarthim girl of terrible power that is trapped along with four other children in the Citadel with only ghost for company. Each of them has command of a unique power, but none of their powers are enough to allow them to escape their lonely prison and even if they did, they would be slaughtered on sight, for their sires enslaved the people of Weep for two centuries. Sarai and Lazlo end up having one of the most beautiful relationships I’ve ever encountered in literature, perhaps because 95% of it occurs in Lazlo’s dreams. Yes, dreams. Sarai can enter into dreams and meddle with the visions therein, but is never seen… that is, until Lazlo sees her.
I could literally blather on for several more paragraphs and give you an entire in-depth summary of the story, but honestly that takes all the fun out of reading the story in the first place. Trust me when I say that this is the best thing to happen to YA fantasy in years and it absolutely floored me with its depth, the blurred lines between good and evil, victim and victimized. Laini Taylor crushed my heart at the end of this book but at the same time I was also cheering. When you get to that point, I think you’ll understand exactly what I mean. Strange the Dreamer will be going in my top ten favorite books of the year (unless 2017 astounds me with masterpieces). If her other series is half this good, I’ll be reading it ASAP.