This fascinating and inventive novel is the second book by Karen Thompson Walker following her 2012 debut, The Age of Miracles. The Dreamers takes place in Southern California. The book follows several individuals who are living through an epidemic of a strange, new illness.
The sickness starts in a college dorm when one freshman goes to sleep after a party and can’t be woken the next morning. Everyone returns to their daily lives thinking this is a singular occurrence, but when another girl can’t be woken, panic ensues. As the sickness quickly spreads, the dorm is quarantined and the hospital fills with people unable to wake up. The questions start to mount about how this strange illness started and how it’s spreading. One of the strangest questions is what they are experiencing while asleep since the doctors are detecting that those asleep are dreaming at a vastly heightened level.
The use of shifting perspectives highlights the diverse experiences of the people affected by this illness. The writing is relaxing and hypnotic which mimics the sleep that the afflicted are experiencing. It’s easy to get lost in the writing as well as the world the author has created. This story will grab you from the beginning with its fascinating look into a pandemic that rocks a town and the people at the center of it. While the book does take place during a pandemic apocalypse, the stars of the book are the sleepy, entrancing writing and the characters who must struggle through this event.
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