Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

The Blurb On The Back:

THIS IS THE STORY OF:

A mysterious city stripped of its name.

A mythic hero with blood on his hands.

A young librarian with a singular dream.

A blue-skinned goddess every bit as perilous as she is imperilled.

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 in choosing him.  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 and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.  

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

Orphaned as a baby, Lazlo Strange was raised by the librarians of the Great Library of Zosma.  Ever since he was 5-years-old, he’s been obsessed with the mythical lost city of Weep, spending all his spare time searching for information about it in the Library.  Now 20-years-old, his dream of finding the city comes true when a delegation visits the library led by Eril-Fane, the Godslayer.  Eril-Fane is recruiting experts in a variety of scientific fields, including Thyon Nero (an alchemist who’s used Lazlo’s research to further his own ends) for a mysterious mission that he won’t explain until they reach Weep.

17-year-old Sarai knows what Weep’s secret is – and more besides – for she lives in the city with her four half-siblings.  As the children of gods, each of the siblings has a special gift and Sarai’s gift brings her into contact with Lazlo, changing both of their lives forever …

Laini Taylor’s YA fantasy romance (the first in a duology) is set in a lusciously imagined, richly detailed world that makes full use of Taylor’s usual lyrical prose but the central love story leaves the supporting players surplus to requirements (with many reduced to two dimensional plot points) and the paper thin plot builds to a twist ending obvious to all except the central characters.  If you’re into YA romance then there’s a lot to enjoy in the relationship that sweetly develops between Lazlo and Sarai, each of whom is well drawn and rounded so that you understand the attraction and I particularly enjoyed the dream scenes with Taylor making full use of her astounding imagination to craft amazing creatures and worlds.  However I found Sarai to be rather passive, dominated by elder sister Minya (a character who had so much potential as an antagonist given her determination, cruelty and desire for revenge but who ends up being unfortunately two dimensional) and constantly reacting to events rather than driving them (a point reinforced by the ending).  I’d also had hopes for the relationship between Lazlo and Thyon, which receives a lot of attention in the first third of the book only to dwindle away as a plot device in the remainder (although Taylor does steer away from the inevitable YA love triangle).  Although I’d guessed the final twist far in advance, I’m enough of a fan of Taylor’s prose to want to read the conclusion.

STRANGE THE DREAMER will be released in the United Kingdom on 28th March 2017.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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