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Life, Law & Libros

Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith eARC (2 stars)

This eARC was provided through NetGalley for review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
Dreamstrider by Lindsay Smith
Series: n/a
Genres: YA, Fantasy
Published on October 6, 2015
Published by Roaring Book Press
Final Rating: 2 stars
A high-concept, fantastical espionage novel set in a world where dreams are the ultimate form of political intelligence.

Livia is a dreamstrider. She can inhabit a subject's body while they are sleeping and, for a short time, move around in their skin. She uses her talent to work as a spy for the Barstadt Empire. But her partner, Brandt, has lately become distant, and when Marez comes to join their team from a neighborhing kingdom, he offers Livia the option of a life she had never dared to imagine. Livia knows of no other dreamstriders who have survived the pull of Nightmare. So only she understands the stakes when a plot against the Empire emerges that threatens to consume both the dreaming world and the waking one with misery and rage.

A richly conceived world full of political intrigue and fantastical dream sequences, at its heart Dreamstrider is about a girl who is struggling to live up to the potential before her.

I can best describe Dreamstrider as "Inception" with a dash of body snatchers.

The plot is...strange. We have isolated dangerous spy missions, including trips into other people's bodies, broken up by Livia's strange dreams and personal reflections, internal struggles, etc. I struggled with the main character, Livia. She has a major self-esteem problem, and immediately drowns the reader in her "I understand why everyone hates me" pity party. Several of those sentiments continue resurfacing throughout the story. Livia's so wrapped up in herself and so convinced she's useless at "spy work" that she fails to see some pretty obvious plot twists coming.

There is some romance on the side. It's mostly pining, but Livia keeps her angsting over that to a mostly acceptable minimum. After all, there are much more crucial matters requiring her attention--impending war and such.

I feel like the concepts behind Dreamstrider are great ideas, but the protagonist fell flat for me. Her persistent low self esteem got a little whiny. I think it might have worked better written in third person instead of first with some room to move around and follow other spies' perspectives and doings. Also, the ultimate moral of the story is "hope" and making your dreams come true. It's not quite as corny as it sounds, but close.

Despite not loving Dreamstrider, the writing is pretty good, and I'm looking forward to trying Smith's other psychic spy novel, Sekret.


  1. The synopsis sounds super confusing. I'm not sure I even know what the book is about beyond dreams and a girl.
    It's a bummer this was only 2 stars for you :( When you are only getting so much reading time, you need some awesome books to read!

    1. Aww, thanks, Alyssa! I think I was drawn in by the idea of spies using dreams. I can definitely see lots of readers enjoying the story, but I just never clicked with the MC.