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The Dreamers

A Novel
Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
Length: 10 hrs and 29 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4 out of 5 stars (612 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice 

An ordinary town is transformed by a mysterious illness that triggers perpetual sleep in this mesmerizing novel from New York Times best-selling author of The Age of Miracles

“Stunning.” (Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven

“A startling, beautiful portrait of a community in peril.” (Entertainment Weekly

One night in an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a first-year student stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep - and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. When a second girl falls asleep, and then a third, Mei finds herself thrust together with an eccentric classmate as panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. A young couple tries to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. Two sisters turn to each other for comfort as their survivalist father prepares for disaster. 

Those affected by the illness, doctors discover, are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, higher than has ever been recorded before. They are dreaming heightened dreams - but of what? Written in luminous prose, The Dreamers is a breathtaking and beautiful novel, startling and provocative, about the possibilities contained within a human life - if only we are awakened to them. 

Praise for The Dreamers

“Walker’s roving fictive eye by turns probes characters’ innermost feelings and zooms out to coolly parse topics like reality versus delusion.... [It has] the perfect ambiguous frame for a tense and layered plot.” (O: The Oprah Magazine

“[Walker’s] gripping, provocative novel should come with a warning: may cause insomnia.” (People, Book of the Week) 

“Powerful and moving...written with symphonic sweep.” (The New York Times Book Review

“2019’s first must-read novel...Alternately terrifying and moving...The Dreamers is overflowing with humanity.” (Jezebel)

©2019 Karen Thompson Walker (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Walker offers a novel bursting with ideas, probing the scary and tantalizing possibilities at the edges of our existence.” (USA Today)

“In The Dreamers, Karen Thompson Walker’s second novel, dreams are...both more dangerous and more powerful than the Greeks could have ever imagined.... Walker uses evocative language to describe the almost bewitching nature of contagion.” (The Washington Post

“Richly imaginative and quietly devastating...Walker jolts the narrative with surprising twists, ensuring it keeps its energy until the end. This is a skillful, complex, and thoroughly satisfying novel about a community in peril.” (Publishers Weekly)

“[An] imaginative, disturbing, and ultimately spellbinding narrative, which asks provocative questions about our concepts of time and connection, and the bounds of possibility for life on Earth.” (Vogue)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

What's the point?

Because the voice was so good, we stayed with it. But, in the end we were even more disappointed because nothing seemed to reveal any surprising or even logical conclusions. We still really don’t know what the story was about and we wonder whether there’s any conclusion we can draw from it.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

I wanted to love this but...

I don’t know. She’s a beautiful writer & I love her sci fi gumption— I whipped through this book— but it didn’t stay with me like her first one did. Maybe because the story is told from
Multiple characters POV, maybe because it felt less realistic. Also— the title of the book is off. The Santa Ana Sleep or whatever the town was called would have been better. Same with her first novel, which I loved, but can’t remember the basic & forgettable title.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Time is a flat circle.

This book had a lot of hype around it, and I was excited when it came out. Unfortunately it didn’t quite live up to expectations.

With prose like writing, and a flow akin to the scene in American Beauty with the plastic bag 😂, the book itself, is a pleasant experience.

However, if what made you excited about this book, was that it was going to tackle big ideas surrounding linear time, the memories that define us, and where those things intersect, you may want to skip it.

To put it another way; if you loved seasons 1 & 2 of HBO’s True Detective, then this book might be the thing for you. If you loved season 1, have a mug that reads “Time is a flat circle”, and didn’t like season 2, skip it. Instead I’d recommend Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy to scratch that “what even IS time/ memory/ identity itch”.


3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Long draw out

Very long boring story. Could not wait until the end. Not sure why it it on the best sellers list. The reader was ok but the story line not interesting

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Boooooorrrrrriiiiinnggggg

I'm not sure if it's the narrator, the story, or both, but this book is like watching paint dry. The narrator reads soooo slowly, and the story is slow to develop. Not a good combination.
This is getting returned after about 3 hours of listening.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • MERRILLVILLE, IN
  • 01-23-19

Avoid this book

This is a poor excuse for a book. Characters of no interest, story is depressing and boring at the same time. Narrator even seems to say “why did I sign up for this?” with each breath. Why was this book published and hyped?

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Snooze fest--bad pun but I did fall asleep...

...while listening.

I loved Walker's first book (The Age of Miracles) so much I read it twice. This one...too many characters, none of whom I cared about, most of whom were not well developed. And very little happened.

Audio narrator didn't help. The story was told at such a narrative remove and seemed clinical almost so the audio narrator's affected reading was annoying.

I didn't really care that I didn't get any answers about why sleeping sickness happened but a zillion possible answers for what happened while the sleepers were dreaming was worse than none at all. It was this, and/or this, and/or this, and this explanation came straight from and episode of Star Trek TNG, or it was this, and/or this...

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Would make a fantastic short story!

Have you read or heard Master Zhao: The Tale of an Ordinary Time Traveler? It's 96 minutes long and I'd like if it were a bit longer, but this story? dang I wish it were a lot shorter. I'm giving it three stars, but don't let that discourage you, I almost gave it 4.

This is a neat concept for a speculative fiction but I must admit it would be a far better short story or novella.

The representation of the dynamics of multiple partnerships, college life and siblings is introduced really well. Unfortunately the story gets drawn out and their individual stories are spread so thin that I did find it hard to have an emotional connection to any. Also, the "shy" "meek" "reluctant" Asian girl stereotype is so overdone.

From a medical thriller perspective the story has a few rather exciting moments, (I said "Oh Nooo," three times) but the anticipation at one point becomes cheap and over done.

Towards the end of the story there was three times I saw how the story could have freaking hit it out of the park...I got excited waiting for the twist...and then No! No twist. Just an ending that could have been reached Alot sooner.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Not what I expected

The summery was a little misleading, I thought it would be more of a mystery novel.

I am so pleasantly surprised at how beautiful this book was. Stunning metaphor and a gorgeous maze of visuals and storytelling made it a great listen.

8 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • CJ
  • Springfield, Virginia United States
  • 11-15-19

Pretty Good...

I enjoyed this book, but not nearly as much as Walker’s Age of Miracles, which is a fantastic read. She’s a great writer, draws you in. But something about this book fell a little flat for me.