The Dreamers

Finished The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker. I received a copy for review.

Summary (from Goodreads):

“In an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a freshman girl 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 who carry her away, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. Then a second girl falls asleep, and then another, and panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. As the number of cases multiplies, classes are canceled, and stores begin to run out of supplies. A quarantine is established. The National Guard is summoned.

Mei, an outsider in the cliquish hierarchy of dorm life, finds herself thrust together with an eccentric, idealistic classmate. Two visiting professors try to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. A father succumbs to the illness, leaving his daughters to fend for themselves. And at the hospital, a new life grows within a college girl, unbeknownst to her—even as she sleeps. A psychiatrist, summoned from Los Angeles, attempts to make sense of the illness as it spreads through the town. Those infected are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, more than has ever been recorded. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?”

I requested this book on a whim and I’m so glad I did! I like pandemic stories and this is such a weird one: people fall asleep and don’t wake up. They’re not dead and it actually seems like they’re having really intense dreams but they don’t wake up. And it keeps spreading throughout the town.

Stop and picture that for a second. What would happen if it actually happened somewhere here? Probably a lot of car accidents as people fell asleep while driving. Some accidental drownings in bathtubs. Fires, maybe, as people fell asleep cooking. But how many kids would die because their parents fell asleep and they were too little to take care of themselves? How long before the electricity went off or there were riots because people ran out of food?

But this doesn’t deal with speculation. It’s presented in a very straightforward manner. And, as would probably be the case in real life, we don’t know what happened or why. (So if a lack of resolution bothers you, don’t read this one. But you’ll be missing out because it’s excellent.)



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