Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on March 28th, 2017
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Find It: Goodreads
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?
Whimsical. Ethereal. Lyrical. Laini Taylor has created another world that makes the heart ache with the knowledge that it’s not real. And with characters who are fleshed out so clearly that you look up and expect to see them in front of you, Strange the Dreamer is
almost sheer perfection.
As is my experience with most fantasy’s, Strange the Dreamer starts off slowly. Other than an initial, shockingly graphic scene to set the stage for what’s to come, the first hundred pages or so surround Lazlo’s intense fascination with a city that has lost it’s name. So the first hundred pages or so were the toughest to get through. The mysteries of Weep and it’s inhabitants didn’t begin to feel real or interesting until Eril-Fane and the Tizerkane warriors show up in Zosma seeking help.
But once things started to feel real? I became as fascinated with Weep as Lazlo was, and it only got more fascinating the more we found out.
The end of wondering, he thought, but not of wonder. That was just beginning. He was certain of it.
The City of Weep
Laini Taylor did a phenomenal job of turning Weep into something more than just a place on the map. Weep was a living, breathing sentient being, with feelings that it’s inhabitants seemed to mirror. The atmosphere upon entering weep was ominous, as if a predator was lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce on it’s prey. And the citizens of Weep, while terrified, were determined to keep those ghostly enemies at bay.
Vengeance ought to be spoken through gritted teeth, spittle flying, the cords of one’s soul so entangled in it that you can’t let it go, even if you try. If you feel it – if you really feel it – then you speak it like it’s a still-beating heart clenched in your first and there’s blood running down your arm, dripping off your elbow, and you can’t let go.
Yet, there was also the constant presence of hopeful optimism. As if trouble couldn’t exist within it’s city walls. Like Weep was a city for dreamers and wonders, where anything could happen. It was a delicate balancing act, that Taylor performed with ease.
And that’s how you go on. You lay laughter over the dark parts. The more dark parts, the more you have to laugh. With defiance, with abandon, with hysteria, any way you can.
With Lazlo and Sarai both naive to the intricacies of intimacy, watching them explore each other was beautifully innocent. They behaved as children, giddy and foolish, which actually endeared me to them even more. And while I fell for them, as they fell for each other, their jump from initial intrigue, to lust, to love was a little too sudden.
But what a love story! Meeting as dreamers, anything is possible. And Taylor, again, was able to make their dreams come alive around me. As the mists of the mahalath approached, I braced myself for an impending transformation . As they fell upwards toward the stars, wrapped in each other’s wings, I felt myself pulled along with them. But I was never just an observer of their experiences. I was immersed in their moments as they were, experiencing everything alongside them as if they were my own.
I’m not going to speak to Strange the Dreamer’s ending too much, because I don’t want to spoil anything. But I will say that I didn’t see the twist coming. Which meant I wasn’t prepared to experience such a poignant moment, making it all the more powerful. And which also meant I wasn’t prepared for the heartbreak, making it all the more tragic.