The Dreamers

The Dreamers

A Novel

Book - 2019
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NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS' CHOICE * An ordinary town is transformed by a mysterious illness that triggers perpetual sleep in this mesmerizing novel from the bestselling author of The Age of Miracles .

"Stunning."--Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven * "A startling, beautiful portrait of a community in peril."-- Entertainment Weekly

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Glamour * Real Simple * Good Housekeeping

One night in an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a first-year student stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep--and doesn't wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. When a second girl falls asleep, and then a third, Mei finds herself thrust together with an eccentric classmate as panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. A young couple tries to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. Two sisters turn to each other for comfort as their survivalist father prepares for disaster.

Those affected by the illness, doctors discover, are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, higher than has ever been recorded before. They are dreaming heightened dreams--but of what?

Written in luminous prose, The Dreamers is a breathtaking and beautiful novel, startling and provocative, about the possibilities contained within a human life--if only we are awakened to them.

Praise for The Dreamers

"Walker's roving fictive eye by turns probes characters' innermost feelings and zooms out to coolly parse topics like reality versus delusion. . . . [It has] the perfect ambiguous frame for a tense and layered plot." -- O: The Oprah Magazine

"[Walker's] gripping, provocative novel should come with a warning: may cause insomnia." -- People (Book of the Week)

"Powerful and moving . . . written with symphonic sweep." -- The New York Times Book Review

"2019's first must-read novel . . . Alternately terrifying and moving . . . The Dreamers is overflowing with humanity." -- Jezebel

"This is an exquisite work of intimacy. Walker's sentences are smooth, emotionally arresting--of a true, ethereal beauty. . . . This book achieves [a] dazzling, aching humanity." -- Entertainment Weekly
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2019]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780812994162
Branch Call Number: WALKER K
Characteristics: 303 pages ; 25 cm


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From the critics

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Jan 11, 2021

I didn’t have high expectations for this book but struggled to put it down! I adored the slightly poetic writing style that allows all the character interactions to be meaningful. Despite being published in 2019, this book had many similarities to what is happening in 2020. A drawback of this novel is that it is hard to foster a deep connection with the characters. The author does not go into detail when it comes to many of their motives. This is somewhat understandable as it is a shorter story and I believe the author wanted to put more emphasis on how the apocalyptic situation affected the community as a whole. Overall, the book was a fun read but the ending felt rushed. 4.5/5 Stars @blissful_bookworm of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

Sep 16, 2020

There is an uncanny familiarity of fear, panic, questions and frustration as the story of a mysterious virus unfolds. I checked the publishing date (2019) and marveled at Walker's ability to describe the feelings and actions of various people during a large scale quarantine. Occasionally Walker will wax philosophic, but it these portions blend into the feel of the story--a dreamy inward-focusing of the mind, not bound in time and open to the existence of many timelines. But do not think this book is ethereal; no, it moves quickly forward, hooking me into every following chapter.

Sep 04, 2020

I really liked this book. Can't believe this was written before COVID and what a book to read during COVID. Aside from this strange disease taking over the Town, I was actively engaged in all the characters, each one so very different. There are parts that leave you hanging but overall I enjoyed this book a lot and it certainly kept me engaged.

ArapahoeKati Aug 17, 2020

Love Walker's prose, how it dreamily pulls you in. Probably not the best sort of read to read during a pandemic, but I couldn't put it down.

ArapahoeSarahH Jul 17, 2020

I read The Dreamers back in May while we were still on stay-at-home orders, and while it wasn't a true suspense novel, I couldn't put it down! Finished in about 24 hours due to interesting comparisons with our current state, beautiful writing and intriguing characters!

OPL_AnnaW May 01, 2020

An unknown virus appears in a small, peaceful college town in California, wreaking havoc in the community. The virus is airborne, highly contagious, and makes its victims fall asleep. Told from the perspective of multiple intersecting characters, this book is highly relatable in the time of COVID-19.

Apr 23, 2020

Despite its terrifying premise (when college students begin falling into an unending sleep, an entire town finds itself in lockdown as the death toll starts to climb), The Dreamers is a very quiet novel. Walker's ethereal prose makes readers feel like they are in a dream themselves, viewing the action through a thick haze. While the characters' terror is palpable, this can make it hard to really connect with them. However, I still enjoyed the overall experience. Readers looking for a tight plot and clear answers are likely to be disappointed, but fans of short stories and atmospheric literary fiction should give The Dreamers a try.

Apr 03, 2020

This book follows the story of a sleeping sickness which shuts down a college town, and the quarantine the town goes under to keep it contained. I can’t give a proper summary without spoilers, but just a heads up the story is told from many viewpoints! There is a sense of unease throughout, once it draws you in it will keep you on edge and ready to keep reading!

Feb 10, 2020

For me this book reads like a sketch--a set of ideas--some of which might have made an outstanding young adult novel, and some of which are certainly the beginnings of powerful foundations for an adult audience (themes of fierce parental love, explorations of the concept of time). Sadly though this book just glides along, never becoming more than a subtly interesting set of sketches. I don't always need a book to be a great intellectual challenge (this one isn't) and I don't always need incredibly deep characterization (it's not here), but a novel does need to make a claim on a reader and so it needs to do some work, somewhere. If you're looking for a light read that touches on ideas of human behavior during epidemics or ideas about how time works you may enjoy this novel, but if you are truly fascinated by either of those topics, reading this book will feel like ordering steak and getting a bag of Funyuns instead.

Jan 29, 2020

Sometimes a book is just a book. This just feels like a book I read and can talk about casually, but my investment in it quickly dwindled because of the hollow characterizations and the surface-level philosophy behind it, and it felt like the plot had no rising action.

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