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review 2016-02-01 17:38
Dreamstrider - Lindsay Smith

I really liked the worldbuilding for this one, and the overall setup of the characters and plot. I don’t think it’s perfect, but it’s doing some fun, interesting things.

Source: bysinginglight.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/january-2016-round-up
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review 2015-12-09 04:05
Review: Dreamstrider - Lindsay Smith

Published by: Roaring Brook
Source: ARC via publisher
Release Date: October 6, 2015

Dreamstrider - Lindsay Smith | Goodreads

A high-concept, fantastical espionage novel set in a world where dreams are the ultimate form of political intelligence.

Livia is a dreamstrider. She can inhabit a subject's body while they are sleeping and, for a short time, move around in their skin. She uses her talent to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. But her partner, Brandt, has lately become distant, and when Marez comes to join their team from a neighborhing kingdom, he offers Livia the option of a life she had never dared to imagine. Livia knows of no other dreamstriders who have survived the pull of Nightmare. So only she understands the stakes when a plot against the Empire emerges that threatens to consume both the dreaming world and the waking one with misery and rage.

A richly conceived world full of political intrigue and fantastical dream sequences, at its heart Dreamstrider is about a girl who is struggling to live up to the potential before her.


I'm surprised that Dreamstrider didn't catch more in the YA blogosphere-- it's got such a beautiful message, and should overlap with fans of Shadow and Bone as well as fans of Lindsay Smith's previous novels.

On that note, the blend of religious elements, political intrigue, and magic as well as the romance should appeal to fans of Shadow and Bone. Lindsay Smith is also one of the few YA authors whose work seems to highlight political espionage. Of the books that feature political intrigue, most seem to be high fantasy, and even then few that I know of focus on espionage itself. It's wonderful. I love that element in Smith's work, and if you like Sekret and Skandal for that, you should also enjoyDreamstrider. The book builds action fast, especially given the nature of the main character's dreamstriding missions, so it's a good combination, too, of political intrigue, action, romance, and world-building.
Dreamstrider takes something as simple as our dreams and fashions an entire society around them: a dreamstrider invading other bodies while their hosts dream; temples of priests devoted to shaping the dreamworld and studying the history fought between the Dreamer (the ultimate god figure) and Nightmare (the ultimate devil figure); theories focusing on how to manipulate dreams and the dreamworld; conversations devoted to sharing each other's dreams and interpreting what messages lie within from their god; and much more. And in taking something simple, Dreamstrider also carries an empowering message - this is tied intricately to the main character's growth arc, and may potentially be a spoiler should I discuss it further, but the message of hope, of fulfilling your own dreams is a strong theme throughout the work... and that inner core is what really made the book for me.
As you may have inferred from above, I thought that the world-building was perfect. There were enough details to ground us in the Barstadt Empire (the priests, Dreamer/Nightmare, Hesse's theories, the Houses, class differences, and Writ of Emancipation, etc.), while offering us the opportunity for more in another side novella (the history of the different countries, the first battle between Dreamer and Nightmare, etc.). I've seen it said that you'll come up with more of the world than can be mentioned in your book; this is certainly true of Dreamstrider. While the world-building provided a good backdrop for the novel, so did the romance; always it remained a side plot, fueling the main character's motivation and her character arc and adding emotional intensity but never overshadowing the main plot of political espionage. Livia, the main character, underwent significant growth throughout the novel. Her position as a dreamstrider is uncertain; the Minister for whom she works holds her citizenship papers over her head. At any moment, the life she has worked for and dreamed of might crumble around her feet, but she perseveres despite self-doubt and comes to realize more about herself, her powers, and her world. I already compared Dreamstrider to Shadow and Bone, but really, if you enjoyed Alina's character growth arc and her moment of embracing the light within her, Livia's self-acceptance and self-realization may also appeal to you.
Bright with hope and inventive details, Dreamstrider tackles deeper issues like class warfare and historical constructs within an action-packed, intrigue-driven narrative led by a heroine as fierce as she is determined.
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review 2015-10-22 01:26
Loved but would have liked a little bit more world building
Dreamstrider - Lindsay Smith

***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

Espionage, Dreamstriding, Political Intrigue, PRETTY COVER.

Those are very tempting things to this reader. They made this reader's heart flutter with anticipation and made her very excited. So what does this reader think about the book? Does she think it was amazeballs or meh? Or somewhere in between perhaps?

This book was great but I also wanted a little bit more.It's harder to explain that in terms of this book because I finished the book feeling great and felt a lot of love for it but there are also things I wish there was more focus on.

Like the world building and the romance. I also wanted more tension. I wanted a book that would make me nervous as I read it because I would be trying to figure out what these characters next move would be. I wanted higher stakes (although it is funny I should say that given how high the stakes were already.)

So let me start with these things I wish were developed a little bit more. World building is crucial to all books (even contemporaries in some ways!) And the world building in this book was good, it just wasn't great. I loved the idea of Dreamstriders, and priests and the dreamers but there is also so much more that I would have liked to know. I wanted to know more about the world of Oneiros and Nightmare thing. I wanted to know about the experiments and the shards and so many things. This book is so unique and unlike anything I've heard of so when I went into this world, I expected to be blown away. I expected there to be drool coming out of my mouth as a gaped in awe but that didn't happen. Don't get me wrong, the details that were disclosed to us readers made me so excited but I also cannot help imagining what this book would have been like if we got more details.

I also adored the romance, but I also wanted more development in that area. The relationship between Livia and Brandt is fantastic and it is so clear to us that they both have feelings for each other but I would have liked more 'spark' moments. I LOVE LOVE LOVE slow burn but at the same time even with slow burn romances, there is an underlying, bubbling tension and I didn't feel that as much in the case of this book. Or maybe I focus on romance too much *shrugs* Don't take my need for more romance as a negative aspect of the book because it really isn't. These two characters are GREAT together and I shipped 'em like crazy and was waiting dying for them to get together. 

Livia, one half of this awesome sauce ship, is a fantastic female lead. I am not even sure what makes her great except that she is someone that is so easy to relate to for me.She is awkward, often times unsure of herself but also smart and capable. She is realistic given where she came from and I love the way she develops over the course of the book and the realizations she has.

The secondary characters in the book are also fantastic and there is some diversity SO YAY (because diversity is fantastic IMO.)  Lindsay develops so many of these characters. They may be minor but they sure as hell aren't bland.

The premise is perhaps what had me most excited about this book because I was curious to see how Lindsay would blend dreams and espionage together and boy did she deliver. The dream world was used in interesting ways to gather information and it didn't feel amateur. The people knew what they were doing. I do wish though that we got a little bit more of the political side of things. I wanted to know how the nobles interacted, I wanted to be shown all the ways they got their hands dirty rather than be told that they engaged in fishy stuff. I wanted more tension.

This book is very much about Livia's journey to self-acceptance and finally coming to peace with her abilities so other things kind of faded into the background. Overall though, this book is such a great read. It's SO MUCH fun and I cannot think of a reason why you shouldn't read this (unless espionage or dreams aren't really your thing.)

Note that I received an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

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