Saturday, April 29, 2017

Review: Strange the Dreamer

Strange the Dreamer Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I guess Laini Taylor books don't want to make the best first impressions on me. I couldn't finish Daughter of Smoke and Bone the first time I read it, but a second read helped motivate me to finish not only that book, but the whole trilogy too. Maybe one day I'll reread Strange the Dreamer and enjoy it more then, but until then, I've got to say, I'm not too enthused about it, unlike pretty much everyone at the YA Cool Kids' Table.

Don't get me wrong - Taylor delivers a very strange, very dreamy book, as its title suggests. It's a very unique piece of fantasy - sorta steampunk, sorta paranormal, and all around bizarre. But it's also long and slow and lavish as all hell. This book is one of the most baroque I've ever read - beautifully imagined, but piecing together exactly what happens in the story, especially in the first 300 pages or so, is almost more trouble than it's worth. It's only too easy to lose track of who's who and what's she. And on another note, the fact that the lost city is called "Weep" makes it extremely hard to take seriously.

But while the book is a massive, pretty brick of a head-scratcher, it's still addictive, like you would expect from Laini Taylor. I'm pretty reasonably certain that the follow-up, The Muse of Nightmares, is closing out a duology - and while I'm a little sad that duologies are the big thing right now in YA (it usually never feels like there's enough material we get to read), this series actually feels pretty well-suited to a duology, loaded with ornate imagery and storytelling as it is - can most people really handle more than two books like this? I guess we'll just have to see.

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