Monday, June 5, 2017

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Description on Goodreads
(note that I have the British version):
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?
What a magical, magical story. I have forgotten how much I love Laini Taylor. How could I possibly forget her skill with the written language? She is a master storyteller. I feel like the stories that grab me the most lately are the ones that remind me of nothing else. This certainly fits that description. This was not what I was expecting, and I loved it even more so for that. I already loved it for its beautiful prose.
I knew going in that this would be good. It’s about a librarian (and I’m a librarian!). It takes place across the desert (and that’s one of my favorite settings). It involves a plot that mixes a world of magic with a world of normalcy and this is also one of my favorite fantasy tropes. Add in teenage demi-gods with super powers (way darker than Percy Jackson), a desolate town that puts other dystopian, desolate towns to shame, a mysterious floating statue that blocks out the sun, ghost servants, and a competition amongst some of the worlds brightest scholars, and well, this book had a little bit everything.
And oh yeah, there’s a sort of forbidden romance too –that mostly takes place within the librarian’s dreams, but still. Taylor knows how to write a forbidden romance well. I was fascinated by the similarities between Lazlo and Sarai.
I think what this author excels in, above all else, is her world-building. This book is not for everyone. If you are a reader that needs a lot of action right away, in your fantasy reads, this is not for you. This is a story that revolves entirely around this magical town of Weep. It’s a setting-heavy story and the action doesn’t really transpire until the second half. Laini Taylor doesn’t just create this magical town. She creates an entire religion and mythology to go along with it. And it’s beautiful.
This book is also one of those books I’d like to shove in YA hater’s faces. It’s just so well written. I can see many adults coming across this title and enjoying it like an adult novel. Favorite quote: ‘"I think you're a fairytale. I think you're magical, and brave, and exquisite. And..." His voice grew bashful. Only in a dream could he be so bold and speak such words. "I hope you'll let me be in your story."’
This was one of my favorite reads of the year and I’m so glad I was able to slowly read it and soak up all of the lovely writing. I give it a 10/10.

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