Like O’Brien’s Birthmarked trilogy, this dystopian, sci-fi, psychological-thriller hybrid raises ethical and moral questions about science. This might have been a difficulty story to pull off, given the environment, but with a likable narrator who is thoroughly unimpressed with herself, it works . . . this should have wide appeal.
Fans looking for a science fiction novel that is not heavy on the science fiction or who want something vaguely dystopian will enjoy this title.
School Library Journal
A mixture of science fiction and contemporary fiction, this novel is an interesting addition to both genres.
A fast, satisfying psychological thriller . . . The sudden cliffhanger will polarize readers.
Like viewers of The Forge Show, readers will want to keep watching Rosie.
While I love a good story from the Fantasy/YA genres, I’ve never really delved into the science fiction realm. The Vault of Dreamers is my first entry, and I find myself wishing for more. That is in part because it ended so abruptly, but also because it was fascinating and made me think about things that I almost wish I hadn’t.
This is the first book in a new trilogy by author Caragh M. O’Brien, and the first few pages grab hold of your attention. The premise itself is rather interesting, that dreams can be taken and given to another surgically, and that these procedures are being performed on students that are not only attending a special school, but are part of a reality show.
The descriptions and pace of the beginning of the story really drew me in as a reader, and it really helped to create the world presented on the pages into images in my mind. It’s a nice change of pace when something is so vividly written that you don’t have to struggle to imagine it.
The story opens up with the main character, Rosie Sinclair, who is already set apart from the other students. She, like the other students are supposed to take a sleeping pill and sleep for 12 hours to better cultivate creativity. However, Rosie decides to skip said pill and stay awake to take in the night. She sees something she isn’t supposed to, and the story takes off.
The relationships in this story develop too quickly for my tastes. It’s literally as if on one page, two characters don’t even know they exist and the next, they’re hugging and having lunch together. There’s no real organic relationships. Then, Rosie meets a man working as a dishwasher in the cafeteria and they instantly have a connection. While it can’t be felt through the emotions of the characters or the way they act with each other, it’s clearly written out and the reader can do nothing but go along with it.
As this is a story set in the supposed future, there are little phrases and references that make it seem like this is in the near future, not centuries away. For instance, YouTube gets referenced, and while that helps the reader understand a specific point, it seems for something so far into the future, that it would have become obsolete or replaced.
The story progresses and we are introduced to new characters who turn the story much darker than originally anticipated. Dean Berg and Dr. Ash are the two responsible for what goes on when the cameras of the show shut off and the night rolls in. It’s every to think about a school knocking out its students to perform operations and experiments on them without their knowledge.
Rosie tries to shed light on the happenings of the school, all the while having to hide what she’s up to because of the cameras that follow the students’ every move. Only at night do the cameras stop broadcasting to the public. The explanations about the school, the show, and the back stories–which are limited–are seamlessly woven into the overarching plot, making it easy to digest the information.
However, it isn’t until the last 50 pages that we really get into the story and all it’s twists and turns. It’s in these last pages that the reader comes to understand just what ‘mining’ and ‘seeding’ are and what their purposes are. It’s also here that we learn of Dean Berg’s true intentions and how he plans to control Rosie.
Because of her colored past, her mother is almost eager to give her up and refuses to really speak with her about what has been happening at the school. Many believe Rosie to be crazy and unhinged, and Berg feeds on that. His character is rather perplexing as he starts off the story in control of himself and his emotions, making the reader curious as to what his intentions are. But by the end, he is almost maniacal and loses his cool. Coming to accept both sides of the dean is hard, and with. Ore time to see him unravel, it would be more believable.
The ending is so abrupt that it was hard to accept. When I finished reading, I was unaware that this was intended as a trilogy. There were so many things left open-ended that I thought I had wasted my time. However, when I came to realize that there were going to be follow-up books, everything started to make a little more sense. But the feeling that there was too much left unsaid never went away. What happened to Rosie? What did Dean Berg do to Linus the dishwasher? Who is the voice in her head? There are so many other questions swirling around in my head at this point.
Despite the ending, it was a solid, well-written piece that I would definitely recommend to fans of the SciFi genre.
[Disclaimer: I received a free e-book copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
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(Reviews to be posted when book goes on sale Sept. 16)