If you were to look at any Hot List for top YA novels right now, odds are Strange the Dreamer is one of them. I have seen its mass popularity for a while now–The Muse of Nightmares included. To be honest, the story didn’t intrigue me. At all. It was, well, strange. Different, but not in the way I’m drawn to. But, I put my reservations aside and picked it up from my library. I had heard many great things about it, and did I love it? Sort of. The quotes are amazing, though, so I’ll be adding them every few paragraphs or so just because.
If you’ve read my post on The Scorpio Races, you’ll know that I’m a total fan of poetic writing. It most definitely appeals to me as both a reader and a writer. Strange the Dreamer was most definitely poetic and utterly beautiful!
“It was impossible, of course. But when did that ever stop any dreamer from dreaming.”Laini Taylor, Strange the Dreamer
I loved Strange as a character, and his bookish ways appealed to me immensely. He’s soft, shy, and, well, a dreamer (what did you expect from a book called Strange the Dreamer?) The other characters are equally great and their powers insanely cool. I’d honestly have to say Minya was my favorite! But I loved Sparrow and Sarai too. Ruby and Feral rubbed me the wrong way for multiple reasons, but their personalities were also hard to like. And did I mention this book was poetic?
“The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around”Laini Taylor, Strange the Dreamer
The plot and world-building were also MARVELOUS! Seriously. Every aspect of both was beautiful, vivid, and so well thought-out.
Unfortunately, there was a lot I didn’t enjoy about this series. First, the weird sexual fascination. Yes, the blue children (godspawn) are socially deprived and live in the very rooms their dead parents had, but that doesn’t mean we need to know all of Ruby’s sexual fantasies. Or any of theirs, for that matter. The amount of times they wondered what kissing, sex, and such were like was honestly disgusting.
“There was a man who loved the moon, but whenever he tried to embrace her, she broke into a thousand pieces and left him drenched, with empty arms.”Laini Taylor, Strange the Dreamer
Then we have two actual scenes between Ruby and Feral. While the first is only the first half and only vaguely described, we do get a mention of nakedness and other uncomfortable things the second time around. Again, why is this allowed or needed in teen novels? Is this really what we all are obsessed with reading? Because it’s sad and disgusting. While it could have been worse, it was still quite heavy-handed with details at times.
“I think you’re a fairy tale. I think you’re magical, and brave, and exquisite. And I hope you’ll let me be in your story.”Laini Taylor, Strange the Dreamer
There are also quite a few mentions of two female lovers who sleep together. While this is always vague and not the main focus of the story, other readers may find this troubling. Still, I would not consider it the worst this book had to offer. Which says quite a bit about content.
“I turned my nightmares into fireflies and caught them in a jar.”Laini Taylor, Strange the Dreamer
My final point is that usually I am driven to read by the characters. They are the life of the story, but, unfortunately, I just didn’t really love any of them. Yes, I did enjoy most of them, but I didn’t truly connect with any of them, which really killed my interest a lot of times.
I did like it. The writing is beautiful, the plot and world-building riveting, and the characters were pretty cool. But the over-glorification of sex and the fact that I was often bored with the characters, made it difficult to love. Still, there might be some fun plot twists to enjoy if you’re comfortable with skimming over the inappropriate content.