ARC Review: Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith

ARC Review: Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith
Dreamstrider
by Lindsay Smith

Genres: Espionage, Fantasy, Young Adult
Publication date: October 6th, 2015
by Roaring Brook Press

Format: ARC

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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 received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

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.)

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
World-building
Romance
Overall: 3.8
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Rashika

Rashika is a mysterious creature who likes to hide in the shadows. It's impossible to get to know her but if you must know, she is a huge bookworm. She also happens to have a huge sweet tooth so you can always lure her over the dark side by offering her something sweet (or bribing her with books).

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  1. says

    I agree with you that world building is huge (probably moreso in contemporaries, though, because we have to believe this is the world around us and not just an imitation of it), so I am a little disappointed that the world building in this one was only good. I think I am going to wait on this one if the world building is a little lacking, since that will be my biggest complaint and I know it’ll make me not like the book as much as I probably would otherwise.

    Great review Rashika!
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  2. says

    Oooh I’m glad Livia was someone you could really get behind Rashika! Yay for diversity and fleshing out the secondary characters. I love the sound of the world and the dream walking but it’s always my pet peeve when the world isn’t developed to it’s full potential, especially when the major drawcard IS the uniqueness of the world and the setting. Lovely review <3
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  3. says

    Rashika this book sounds delightful, you know me being out of the loop for a while I missed out on all of these new books, but I do really like the concept that the author has gone for with this book. Like you I love my books with romances, especially when done well, so I have a feeling that I will be rooting for Livia and Brandt. Thank you for putting this book on my radar! :)
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  4. says

    To be honest I haven’t been hearing the best things about Dreamstrider, but I’m glad your review shows a different opinion. Though I am not surprised that there’s a lack in development and detail :( I think that was one of the reasons why I wanted to read this book in the first place, just to see how the ability of entering in dreams worked, and how Livia is a dreamstrider in the first place, and what that all means. (Then again I don’t know if they do address these questions, but you get my drift).

    But anyways, I am glad you enjoyed this Rashika! More than I thought you would :)
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  5. says

    Dreams are ABSOLUTELY my thing, so I will be reading this! Especially since I just won a copy. I am pretty excited about that ;) I am so glad that you said that the world building was decent, if not great. A lot of people have been saying it is AWFUL, but you have given me hope! Like, I can live with that, if the other things are good. And the characters sound quite good too, so my fingers are crossed that I will at least enjoy it even if I am not blown away by it! Great review :D
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  6. says

    The premise of this one sounds very interestign and I am glad to hear it was executed well. Although that’s a shame there wans’t more politcal stuff, I always like reading about politics in fantasy books. Livia sounds like a likable and realistic character. I like how you describe her as awkward and smart at the same time. World building is always very important to me and with an original world I want even more so I am able to form a good image of the world and how thgins work, so I am not sure if I would be happy with that as I expect a lot from world building. Great review!
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  7. says

    I have read this one and personally I loved it. I think the world building was done incredibly well and the actual dreamstriding process was described well with beautiful imagery. I know the character of Livvy is not for everyone because she isn’t the strong kind of character we’re used to. Yes, she has her moments but most of the time she is doubting herself. I didn’t mind that because I could relate to her and I found it realistic. On the romance front though, there isn’t that much going on and the romance in general is secondary to the plot and all.
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