Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
Series: Strange the Dreamer #1
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on March 28th 2017
Pages: 544
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review
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A new epic fantasy by National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy.

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—
and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo's dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? and if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

Confession time! This is my very first Laini Taylor book. I know, I know, but if it helps, I can promise it will not be my last? Can we live with that? Great. Let’s talk about this loveliness, shall we?

I really don’t know where to begin with this book, since I know that so many people are anticipating it. So I will tell you my only downside I experienced while reading this book: I had a bit of trouble getting started. The beginning starts off slowly, and I wasn’t hooked immediately. But I soon was, and when I was in, I was all in.

So why did I love this book? Let’s talk about it! 

  • The writing was undeniably gorgeous from start to finish. Laini Taylor writes in such a lyrical and captivating way that I could not help but be pulled into the story. But here’s the thing: it isn’t just beautiful prose for the sake of beautiful prose. Every word meant something, and that made it all the more special.
  • I positively loved the characters. This is Lazlo’s story, yes, but Sarai stole the show on many occasions. And I adored Lazlo, but at times, I adored Sarai more. But does it even matter? Because the point is, they are fabulous. And the cast of secondary characters is no less great. They were all so very complex and fleshed out and really brought so much to the story. The interactions between the characters were incredible as well. The rapport Lazlo had with a lot of the people he encountered on his journeys added so much to the story. There was banter, and wittiness, and it was a great way to showcase the very best of Lazlo’s personality. And Sarai’s story just completely captured my interest from the moment she was introduced.
  • The romance was super slow burning, but also incredibly swoon-worthy. It’s complicated, and it is unsure, and it is just everything that a really great romance should be. I can’t say much more, other than I am a fan, so we’ll leave it at that.
  • The plot was incredibly complex, and there was a lot I did not see coming. There were plot points that had me cheering, some that had me horrified, some that had me in tears, and some that had me holding back laughter. My emotions ran the gamut in this book, and I loved that. 
  • While the world building was incredible, it also kept a lot of room open to learn new things in the next book. I think it was a great balance between the reader being familiarized with the world, and knowing just as much as they needed to know to be comfortable reading, and mysteries that will undoubtedly unravel as the story goes on. The atmosphere fit the story completely, too, and was woven into the plot so, so well.

Will I Read The Sequel? Um, YES. Can someone just give it to me now? Please and thank you? Splendid.

Bottom Line: I was originally going to go with 4.5 stars, because of the trouble I had in the beginning. But you know what? It is too good to even deduct the half star. So just know that it starts a little slow, but that it ends up being worth that little bit of slowness. Because it is truly a phenomenal story with amazing characters. It’s wildly imaginative, unique, and written in the loveliest of ways. Absolutely met- no, surpassed- my expectations.

Is this book on your must-read list? Have you read Daughter of Smoke and Bone? I clearly need to now! And how much do you love gorgeous writing?

Posted March 16, 2017 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Review / 31 Comments

31 responses to “Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

  1. Sam

    I have all the Smoke & Bone books, but have not read them yet, although, I have heard great things. This is a stellar endorsement for all that is Laini Taylor!

  2. Is it bad that I think the ARC is actually prettier than the finished copy?!?😂 BECAUSE IT’S JUST DOWNRIGHT GORGEOUS OMG. And yayyy that you liked it!! I actually have the audio pre-ordered because I’ve heard it’s slow and I do better with listening to slow books than reading them. I get too impatient and end up skimming hah.😂I’m so glad you loved the characters. (Their names are just THE BEST THO.) And ajfdskald it sounds so beautiful and amazing and I’m so glad Laini Taylor has finally started a new series!!

  3. I’m so jealous! I need this book now!! And it was good too?! Well of course it was! Daughter of Smoke and Bond is one of my favorites! Weird how this one has a male main character.

  4. I expect nothing less than beautiful poetry in Taylor’s writing, so I’m happy that this book did not disappoint! Sarai is the blue goddess right, I’m sure I’ll fall in love with her as well. AND PLOT TWISTS ABOUND?

    My body is ready.

  5. I’m so sad.. this was also my first Laini Taylor book, and I read over 100 pages in and was so incredibly bored that I DNFed the book. Since then, people have told me that “it’s just the beginning that’s slow” and to “keep going” but like.. isn’t 100 pages already a lot? I was really pushing myself, too. Blerg. Do you think so too? I was told it gets better after around 240 pages which is like.. over a third of the book, I believe. I don’t know, maybe I’ll try this again via audiobook? Anyhoo, sorry for the whining haha. Fantastic review, and I’m so thrilled that you loved this book as much as I wanted to 😀

    Brittany @ Brittany’s Book Rambles

    • Okay so for me, it got better like… right around that mark, the 100 pages. I think if you have to wait til 240… that is a LOT. I mean, I think things got even BETTER then! Like, the second half of the book is definitely stronger by FAR, but I still started to get invested, like, quite invested, around the time Lazlo left the library? (Not really a spoiler, I just don’t know if you have gotten there yet!) But yeah I think 240 pages is a LOT of room to give it, so I feel you there!

  6. I’m so happy to hear you loved this, Shannon! Laini Taylor is one of my favorite writers (HOW does she manage to craft such gorgeous prose?!), so I’m really looking forward to finally getting my hands on a copy of Strange the Dreamer. Plus, I love a good slow-burn romance, and I’m a sucker for character-driven stories. Fantastic review, lady! <3

  7. I haven’t read her either but it sounds like a fabulous book. I like world building that manages to show you enough but not infodump or inundate you with stuff, and a complex plot that draws all the emotions- sounds like a winner to me!

  8. I was starting to think I was the only one who hadn’t read any Laini Taylor before! haha I’m so glad you loved it, and now I’m more excited for it’s release. I’ve always been a bit worried about her books because people go on about the beautiful writing. I was worried it was just pretty for the sake of being pretty, but if it’s pretty and meaningful? THAT I can do! 🙂
    -Monica @ Tomes Project

  9. I just reviewed this too! It was so incredible. I already loved Laini’s books but somewhere in the fog of the last few years I had forgotten how much I love Laini’s books. This book reminded me! I loved all the same things you did. Especially the gorgeous writing. The wait for book 2 is going to be impossible! IMPOSSIBLE!

  10. Stacy

    This is one of my most anticipated releases this year because of how much I adored the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. I usually do not get that excited for a new series, but I loved her writing and world building in the other series, so glad to see she has not lost it in the new series as well. It’s good to know that it starts slow, but that it does become something amazing. Thanks for the review.

  11. Well than, it sounds like I really really need to check this out! I still haven’t read any Laini Taylor but it looks like I need to fix that ASAP! Glad to see you (and everyone) loved it! I do love slow burning romance! Awesome review, Shannon!

  12. So I started this one but I kept getting distracted by the lovely writing. I’ve noticed this in the past too, but I just can’t seem to focus on the story when there’s pretty prose, which SUCKS because I love the sound of everything else in the book, especially that romance. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much though and I hope the wait for the next book won’t be too long. I might give it another try in the future, but I’m not feeling as enthusiastic about it as everyone else. :/

  13. YAY I AM GLAD YOU LOVED THIS. Also what. Why is this your first Laini Taylor book. Who are you?

    (ALSO I AM NOT AN ASSHOLE EXCUSE YOU) Just kidding I love you. I just saw that message right when I was commenting. And I guess I will comment on your 100 recap.

  14. I’ve yet to read a book by this author! I have the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series but I don’t know why I’ve never picked it up. I’m glad to know you liked this one since this one seems more interesting to me. I love when a plot is complex!!! Keeps me so entertained.

  15. Yesss, I am so glad you enoyed this one! Strange the Dreamer is definitely brilliant and it was so, so memorable. All of the characters, including Sarai and Lazlo were amazing. I can’t believe we have so long until the next book!

  16. This book is the one I have been waiting for ever since I finished the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series. I had pre-ordered the kindle edition because print take so long to get to South Africa and I was desperate! But the thing is, I started it and just couldn’t get into it… I am so glad you also struggled with the beginning – now I know I just need to keep going. You’ve made my day 🙂

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