Strange the Dreamer Review + Moodboard

Synopsis

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 or 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?

Welcome to Weep. 

Author: Laini Taylor

Series: Strange the Dreamer Duology

Genre: YA Fantasy

Final Rating: 4.5 Stars

Review

I read this with Jenna @ Embers of Eleanor!

This was my first book by Laini Taylor, and I’ve heard amazing things about her writing style. Not too flowery, not too bland, but the perfect mix. I don’t really care about writing style, I usually enjoy a simple, straightforward type of writing, but even I was impressed with this. Laini Taylor has a unique, amazing quality to her writing that is like no other. It was almost flowery, but I could understand what was happening, and her figures of speech were so creative.

Lazlo was great. I mean, how can you go wrong with a protagonist who loves reading and dreaming? He was so charming, and I really liked the way he could believe in things that couldn’t really be supported by facts. And I love how he accepted Sarai and her differences. Laini Taylor wrote him beautifully, with his flaws and strengths and heart, just how a character should be written. Not fake, and hidden beneath a perfect exterior. You understood Lazlo’s doubts and his insecurities and his mistakes, but they didn’t take over and make him unlikable and horrible. He was real, and I think that’s the most important thing about him. I, for one, would rather read about a character who is realistic than one who is the best at the best things, or a character who has too many flaws and is also unrealistically annoying.

It was impossible, of course. But when did that ever stop any dreamer from dreaming?

I loved Sarai even more than Lazlo. Sarai had a fierce, but kind personality, and I loved her so much while reading this book. And of course, she was also written gorgeously, and her POV was distinct from Lazlo’s. It’s a huge pet peeve of mine when in a book with multiple point of views the characters just merge together, creating one sloppy mess of a book. But Taylor didn’t do that. No, Sarai and Lazlo were so different, yet had a beautiful chemistry that I loved.

Minya’s toxic. She really is. Now, I understand that she had a traumatic past but that doesn’t excuse her cruelness. She’s actually cruel. The chapters that were in her perspective, especially the one where she was trying to tell herself that Sarai, Feral, Ruby, and Sparrow were the only ones she could carry, the only ones she could save, were . . . I honestly don’t even know. Because I can’t call it beautiful, because although I applaud Laini Taylor for writing a character this layered, this complex, Minya is abusive. But when I was reading this I was so surprised by the talent of the author for writing Minya like this. You understand her pain. Let me make this clear though: I am NOT trying to justify Minya’s behavior. I’m just praising the author for writing a character like this.

And that’s how you go on. You lay laughter over the dark parts. The more dark parts, the more you have to laugh. With defiance, with abandon, with hysteria, any way you can.

Eril-Fane was a big part of this book, but he was so bland. He didn’t resonate with me at all. I didn’t care about him. I really wish the author had used some of Minya’s complexity in Eril-Fane, because then he would have been SO much better to read about. Instead, we have a boring and monotonous character who was just there.

Azareen was my favorite character. Well, Azareen and Calixte. Even though she was a side character, she was amazing, and I wish their was more of her. Her strong but silent character was unique and I really want to learn more about her, and her past. The little we have learned so far was so interesting, and I’d love to read more.

“You think good people can’t hate?” she asked. “You think good people don’t kill?” […] “Good people do all the things bad people do, Lazlo. It’s just that when they do them, they call it justice.”

Calixte was a beautiful, badass, and acrobatic queen. I loved her so much. I needed more of her and Ruza’s sass. I loved her witty comments and the way she could easily get on Lazlo’s nerves. She wasn’t annoying, just mischievous which is a type of character I don’t think we see often enough in YA girls. And, she’s in a relationship with another girl, and I loved the way her romance wasn’t a huge proclamation, or a big deal, because that’s how it should be treated. Not as a big deal. It should be treated normally, which is what Laini Taylor did.

“You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable,” she pleaded. “Something beautiful and full of monsters.”

“Beautiful and full of monsters?”

“All the best stories are.”

The rest of the godspawn were nice enough. I really liked Ruby’s fieriness, and just her personality in general, though she could be a little annoying. I didn’t care about Feral. Again, he was just there. Sparrow was sweet, and she was nice. That’s all though. She blended into the background.

As much as I adored the writing style and the characters of Strange the Dreamer, the plot was barely there. I really wished I could say I liked this aspect of the book, but that wouldn’t be fair to myself, the book, or anyone else. This book wasn’t exactly character driven, which I love, especially in a book like this where the characters are so complex and interesting, nor was it plot driven, as I have said above, because it didn’t have much of a plot until near the end. It was more setting/world driven, which, I have found, I don’t really like.

That being said, though, the book wasn’t boring. In fact, it was very entertaining, at least after the first 20% or so. That first 20% makes up Part 1 of the book, which unfortunately is the most boring and slow, and also doesn’t have any Sarai or the other side characters and godspawn. After that part, my heart was filled with content while the pages flipped by.

I turned my nightmares into fireflies and caught them in a jar.

This is how you do insta-love, people. Other than in Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles), I haven’t seen any good insta-love. Now, I usually hate insta-love, but in this book, I actually liked it. I loved the fact the Lazlo and Sarai had a deeper connection than what was on the outside, what they looked like. I loved how they met and how they became friends, to something more.

The worldbuilding was amazing. There was a slow and careful increasing of the world as the characters knew it, and their are so many details and loose ends that are taken care of flawlessly. I loved learning about Weep’s history, which was so complex and unique, by the way. I have no idea how Taylor did this so perfectly. As an aspiring author myself, world-building is really hard. It’s easy enough to just change some things from your favorite fantasy book, slap on a new name and call it dystopia, but it’s so hard to make something up like this from scratch. If not for the rest of the aspects, I need to applaud Laini Taylor for this.

He looked him right in the eyes and saw a man who was great and good and human, who had done extraordinary things and terrible things and been broken and reassembled as a shell, only then to do the bravest thing of all: He had kept on living, though there are easier paths to take.

I’ve said the word ‘applaud’ way too many times in this review.

I applaud admire the creativity put into this book. The small things do matter, and that was proven by Laini Taylor. Even things as simple as descriptions of people and places were so well done, in such beautiful writing. I could see everything clearly, and I really loved that. It’s so hard to like a novel when you can’t imagine what’s happening.

Overall, this was amazing, and I really enjoyed it. I’m going to be reading more of Laini Taylor in the future.

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Moodboard

Find it on Pinterest here.

Moodboards are a new hobby of mine, I think. They’re so fun to make.

Did you read Strange the Dreamer? Did you enjoy it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

12 thoughts on “Strange the Dreamer Review + Moodboard”

  1. Lovely review and moodboard!! So happy that you loved this one… similarly, I have heard so much about Laini Taylor’s writing and I’m glad that it was unique for you… the characters all sound incredible and woah did I hear instalove working well? Ah you’ve convinced me to read this, thank you for the review!! 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, this is such a good book! I read it in February and I agree that it’s amazing! There were definitely parts of this book that were slow, I agree, but overall it was amazing! I noticed at the top you said that it doesn’t have a series–it is actually part of a series, I’m not sure what the series is called but it’s a duology, there’s a book two.
    Awesome review!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love your review! I’m so happy you liked this book. The sequel is much more action packed I felt and I think you’ll enjoy it even more! (At least I did 🙂 )
    Also, your mood board is beautiful 😍

    Liked by 1 person

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