Review of “Strange the Dreamer” by Laini Taylor

Taylor, Laini. Strange the Dreamer. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2017. 

Hardcover | $18.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0316341684 | 536 pages | YA Fantasy

3 stars

Strange the Dreamer has a lot of promise as a great YA fantasy. Laini Taylor is a fabulous writer, crafting such vivid and beautiful prose. The world she created also shows a lot of potential, with the lore surrounding the lost city of Weep and the role of dreams. And once the plot gets going in the last hundred pages or so, it is truly epic, and makes me anxious to know what comes next.

However, the meandering for most of this epic tome is a major drawback. I can’t recall a single important thing that happened from those pages. While it does set up a lot of the world, and it did keep me reading rather than giving up on it part way through, I feel like there should have been a lot less build-up and a bit more plot.

The characterizations are lovely. I love the tenderness and intellect of Lazlo, contrasting wonderfully with a lot of his counterparts who are defined more by their brute strength, even if they do have other qualities. The mysterious Sarai and the other cast of cool, sometimes literally out-of-this-world characters also kept me interested in what was going on, and if anything will compel me to read the next book, it is my investment in them and seeing what happens next.

I would recommend this to people who like fantasies that are heavy on the world-building and highly textual. If you’re someone who prefers a high-action read from the first chapter, you may be disappointed. But if you don’t mind a book that takes its time to establish the world and the characters before establishing the plot, then this is the book for you.