Strange the Dreamer ~ Buddy Read

strange

the-book
Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1)
By Laini Taylor
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN13: 9780316341684
Pages: 544
Genre: YA Fantasy

Blurb:

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?

BuddyRead

This was a buddy read with Debby @Always Booking. She seems to be the only human being capable of convincing me to share my reading time. We decided we would explore this title a little differently, so we came up with 5 key questions for each other regarding Strange the Dreamer. The plan is to share tour responses and then follow with a brief recap of my overall experience. You can find Debby’s personal take here.

*I have chosen to hide Debby’s potential spoilers. You can highlight to reveal them if you feel like taking a risk. But I do not allow those dirty little things on my page 😉

Debby’s Answers to My Questions:

1.       Describe your personal experience with Strange the Dreamer please.
 
Frustrated… I think that is my personal experience.  I wanted to like it, there were times that I thought the book it would redeem itself and it didn’t. ugh just frustrusted…
 
2.       How well do you feel like you connected with the characters and why?
 
I really only felt connected to Lazlo aka Strange through most of the book since he is our main character.  He was really personable throughout the whole book with his shyness, yet his wanting to fit in with everyone.  Lazlo had such an old soul about him that you just wanted to bring him home with you and keep him forever.  Towards the end I started feeling more of a connection with other characters but it wasn’t like the connection I had with him.
 
3.       Can you describe the author’s writing in this particular book?
 
Very slow, I was expecting that though seeing how in her previous series it was also very slow.  Nothing really ever happens… until it does.  It’s really hard to explain unless you have read the book.  I ‘m more of a person who likes to get the information as things are happening.  Laini Taylor likes to just write information, and more information and more information.  This makes the book a little too slow for my taste.
 
4.       Was there one specific aspect of the book that you really did or did not enjoy?
 
Fair warning spoilers ahead… The dream scenes. I loved the vividness of the dream scenes.  How they could change them how they wanted them on a whim. Wouldn’t it be amazing to take a nightmare and turn it into a lightning bug in a jar?  Or take your favorite book and just go there in your sleep?  I thought that was an amazing idea.  Of course otherwise it wouldn’t be titled “Strange the Dreamer”
 
 
5. Did you find the conclusion to be satisfying and will you read the next book?

No the conclusion wasn’t satisfying .. again spoilersI wanted that crazy little witch to die.  Of course she didn’t, it had to be the other one L  How horrible?!?!?!?! All the action happened at the end and it ended on a sort of cliffhanger I guess.  I don’t know if I’ll read the next book I just feel really frustrated toward the whole experience.

My Answers to Debby’s Questions:

1.       Which character was your favorite and why?

This is easily and undoubtedly Lazlo. He was not only likable, but the only character I felt was given enough depth. The most enjoyable aspect of Strange the Dreamer for myself was Lazlo’s growth and evolution.
2.       If you could have one “Godly” power what would it be??
I think I would actually pass. Yes, that is an honest answer. The pressure and burden that comes with having any form of super power has to be incredibly heavy. I am not sure that I would be the best candidate for that much responsibility and obligation.
3.       Did you like the flow of the writing style in this book?
The writing style was very much what I expected based on my previous encounter with the Laini’s work. It was fluid and elegant, but at times overly descriptive. I am not sure that I loved it, but I certainly found an appreciation for several aspects of it and can understand how she has developed a solid following within the book community.
4.       After reading this book are you tempted to pick up a Laini Taylor book again?
Okay, this is the answer that will make some cringe or scowl at me, but long version short: not right now. The story telling is almost a bit too rich for my tastes. I found that certain scenes drug on for pages,yet I realized that so little was happening. Maybe a fair statement is that it is slower than I prefer right now. But I am not writing her books off completely.
5.       If you saw Strange the Dreamer in the store would you be tempted to pick it up based on the cover??

I would be tempted, but would not because I have learned my lesson on those impulsive cover buys. But it would draw me in enough to read the synopsis. And that was effective in hooking me. So mission accomplished with cover!

My Final Thoughts..

Laini Taylor’s writing is in a category of its own. She has a way with taking the simplest sentence or description and turning it into something beautiful. Strange the Dreamer was no different in terms of writing.  This series will amass a following, I have no doubts.

However, I did encounter multiple personal challenges during my time with Strange the Dreamer. A lot of this was centered around just how much time is committed to setting a stage that we are never quite allowed to fully explore. It was like placing a cake on the table but only being able to view it. As a fan of fantasy I do not take world building lightly, but eventually there has to be a story that adequately accompanies the setting.

For the amount of characters and sub-characters introduced, there was a surprising lack of development or growth with the majority of them. While the concept (see blurb – I am not recapping for this) is teeming with promise, there were too many marks missed for my tastes. At 544 pages, this really felt really long. Again, a too much design and too little actual evolution. I would read 100 or so pages only to realize very little had happened.

I am giving a nice nod to the author for avoiding all of the typical tropes/clichés I was honestly expecting in this one.  I was surprised at how original every aspect of this felt, even at its slow pace. I also found the ending to be more agreeable than Debby. So extra points for that.

I think that if you go into this expecting more of an introduction or slower read, then you are more apt to find a true appreciation for all that it has to offer. For myself, it read as a very long prologue that never made it to those initial first chapters. Maybe this will be easier recommended to die-hard, established fans of Taylor’s work that do not mind the wait.

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70 thoughts on “Strange the Dreamer ~ Buddy Read

  1. Yay I’m here 1st! Muahahaha! *evil fingers* lol I love that you gals buddy read Strange the Dreamer! I wanted to hear both of your perspectives & I see that for the most part they run parallel with one another with the exception on the ending. Love the insightful questions 👌🏼 I’m one of those die hard Laini fans you mentioned at the end lol. I’m actually surprised Gretchen loved it so much given that the consensus seems to be Laini’s signature overly descriptive writing & pacing. I’m all for these type of reads for the atmospheric experience but I’m fully aware of how it can put some readers off. I’m so excited to meet Lazlo but a bit disappointed to hear that the other characters weren’t fleshed out. She did such a great job with Zuzana & the other side characters in Daughter of Smoke and Bone 😕 Whelp guess I’ll find out later on this year 😉

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    1. I would give you a big hug right now if I could! How did you get here so fast haha? I think you are actually going to love Lazlo! If anything could convince me to continue, it would be him. He is a great character. And I love the overall idea! It is just taking to long to get there for me.

      I did love Daughter of Smoke & Bone, so I think maybe it is a mood thing with me. Perhaps sometimes I enjoy a more detailed read than others? Not sure. I haven’t wrote this off completely, but not tempted any time soon. I think you may really love it though ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. *big hugs* I haven’t turned off email notifications just yet & got yours as I was sitting waiting for train #2 lol. Maybe it is a mood thing, I know I CANNOT read her books or any slow paced overt descriptive book unless I’m in the right mind frame. It’s a duology though so it won’t carry on for too long & she typically ends with a bang so I expect the sequel to have plenty of action 🤞🏼💕

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  2. I’m a rubbish buddy readier and shrink right back if anyone mentions it! Your feelings about this book reminds me of how I felt about The Night Circus, lots of build up and not much action until the end, very disappointing especially with all the hype surrounding it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh see, now my experience with The Night Circus was very different. I felt like there was a ton happening and flew through it in a setting haha. Just goes to show how individualized reading really is huh. I think the writing here was solid, but the focus not where I wanted it to be 🙂

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    1. I am so glad 🙂 I think maybe part of it was timing for me. I have to really be in the mood for those slower reads to play on details so heavily. I admit her writing is beautiful though. I can certainly understand why she has such a large following!

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  3. I want to read this myself so I skimmed over your review – I don’t like to know too much about a plot before I read the book. I don’t mind a slow read if it builds up to a crescendo finally so we’ll see what I think of it.

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  4. Wonderful review. You hit the nail on the head. I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone and I liked it well enough. I still couldn’t convince myself to continue the story when the second book came out. There’s something that’s just ‘Too Much’ in this authors writing for me.

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  5. I haven’t read this book yet but most of the people found it ‘frustrating’ because of the long descriptions. I like writing that is poetical and lyrical but if it’s too much, I end up dnf-ing the book entirely. That’s why I’m not sure if I’ll pick this one up or not.

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  6. Love that you tag teamed this one… I got so much info about the book and everything that I am now kind of glad I didn’t receive the ARC for this… I think… one would want the story to actually progress… for all the points that you make, I think I would have same issues… but again.. never say never.. I may just take this one for a ride some day! 😉 Sorry this one didn;t deliver on the hype, or the cover (because the cover is just fab) but atleast there’ll be no regrets- you’ve given it a go! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is one of the few books where I prefer the US cover over the UK one 😉 So at least I have that on my shelf haha. I think this will boil down to mood and how much you enjoy the actual writing. I would still be interested in seeing how it sits with you as you are accustomed to some serious world building. Unfortunately, all of the happening was at the end.

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  7. I’ve never heard of buddy reading, but it seems like a really fun experience. I’m definitely going to check out this book further. Thanks for introducing me to it. (And isn’t the cover sooo pretty?)

    I’m new to blogging and book reviewing, and am very impressed by your blog. I was wondering if you had any tips for newbie bloggers and book reviewers.

    If you have the time, please check out my blog @breenysbooks. I’d love any feedback. Have a wonderful day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! I just visited and your blog is beautiful 🙂 You seem to have all of the necessary pages in place. I totally botched that when I started. I am no expert though. I always say to just make sure your are yourself! Have fun and do not be afraid to let your personality shine through 🙂 You can always email me if you have a specific question. I would love to see me on your about me page ❤ I really enjoy knowing who I follow. Have a fab day!

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  8. Definitely agree with you that this book is a little “too much.” I really liked it, but like you said, I think it’ll be a while before I consider picking up another one of Laini Taylor’s books. She’s definitely got a huge amount of writing talent, but this book was like….biting into a cake that is delicious, but a little too rich. Definitely the slow pace of it was my main frustration while I was reading it. Things got a too descriptive and took far too long to happen and I just wanted to move forward. Overall I really enjoyed this book, but I remember feeling like I needed to pick up something much lighter as my next read after I finished it!

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  9. I got this from the library and just read the prologue before I knew I wasn’t in the right mood to read it. I actually just won it in a giveaway earlier this week, so I’ll definitely read it some day. I think I’ll feel like you both did, though, with all the extra, flowery writing. I don’t usually have a lot of patience for that.

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    1. I can certainly see this being one that you might struggle with in terms of pacing. The writing is nice to an extent, I just need more actual happening and less details at times. But since you have won a copy, you must decide for yourself!

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  10. Sorry you ended up not enjoying this one as much as you wanted to, Danielle! From having read Laini’s other works I can completely agree that she tends to go a bit longwinded with the descriptions which makes things move really slowly, something I have to be in the mood for to enjoy. I do love how her writing flows though and it makes for great quotes 😂. But really your review confirmed the fact that I’m glad I’m holding off on reading this one until I’m in the mood for a slower read. I have a feeling if I picked it up now I wouldn’t enjoy it despite how much I’ve loved her other books. Great review as always!! 😊💕

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    1. Thank you Melissa! I think a lot of us cringe when we see the words “slower paced”, but it is more about mood. Sometimes a slow read is just perfect if you are in the mood to really savor something. Her writing is fluid and beautiful. I do not regret reading it, only that I failed to enjoy it like I possibly could at another point. And I admit that this one took to long for actual events to occur for me. ❤

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  11. I have this book on hold from the library… so I’ll read it soon. I have always struggled with Laini Taylor – I loved her Daughter of Smoke and Bone but didn’t enjoy the other two quite as much… BUT I. LOVE. THIS. POST. (Sorry I have been reading May’s posts…) but yeah I really loved how you approached the buddy read… not sure if I’ve never read a buddy read post before and this is how its done but I loved reading what you both felt!

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    1. Oh thank you! We were both struggling over full reviews for this one because we didn’t quite connect so I thought maybe asking each other a few questions might get the ball rolling 😉 I think I may stick with this format the next time she convinces me to buddy read again. She has a knack for that. I generally don’t haha. I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, but never picked up the others. As much as I enjoyed it, I am now hesitant.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I read them because I loved the chimera and wanted to see how that developed but if you’re good with how Daughter of Smoke and Bone ended I’d pass, but I wasn’t a fan of the latter 2 so that’s only my two cents worth. Many reviewers loved the entire series. I’ve only ever found a handful who lost interest after book 1. More buddy reviews!!!!! 🤣😍

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  12. I agree. While Laini’s work is beautifully written, it can be incredibly slow moving, which is frustrating when you KNOW something’s going to happen but it’s just not happening yet 😆
    It sounds like an incredible idea behind the book, though. I have to be honest and say I would very much like to go to my favourite book when I sleep 😀 With you on the Godly powers. While on paper it sounds awesome, the reality would be far different. To quote Uncle Ben from Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility” and with so many adult responsibilities already, who wants more, especially of the kind that come with having powers like that? 😛
    Having read Laini’s other work, I think I’ll be giving this a read nonetheless ☺️

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    1. I really hope you enjoy this one! I think that with the ending, the next installment (I believe there are only 2 planned) will have to be much more action packed. So I may eventually commit to it after I see some reviews 😉 Better safe than sorry hehe.

      I absolutely love that you quoted Uncle Ben. You rock Jazz ❤

      Like

  13. Sniggers at calling spoilers ‘dirty little things’ quality.😂

    I’m with Liz on this one, we both got promotional material for the book but with the varied reviews I’m glad they never actually sent me a copy. For every person that loves this another seems to hate it.

    Cool buddy read concept having questions for each other.😀

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    1. Thanks Drew! Since this is YA, I would have been very surprised to see you pick this up. But to be fair, it doesn’t exactly read like YA. Her writing is solid, but the execution missed the mark a bit. It is always fun to read with Debby though.

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      1. Ha, I’d have been surprised to pick it up too! Was glad I was never sent a copy due to the Y-A label and the reviews, seems to be a book that some love and some hate.

        Did actually read a review the other day for this that lived it and said it’s nothing like Y-A, that’s the cool thing with bloggers we all have different opinions.😀

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  14. Wonderful review! I’m glad you were able to get through it. I know you said you were struggling with it for a minute. I totally agree with what you’ve said. Laini’s writing is gorgeous and on a level of its own. But the plot is a bit slow. You definitely have to go in expecting that to enjoy it, I think. I do think the pacing matched the dreamy feel of the book though, which was really cool!

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    1. There are definitely times the pacing aided the setting and atmosphere very well. I think I went in expecting much more to start. Which I should not have done. Her writing is elegant 🙂 I may eventually talk myself into book 2. Much more should be happening!

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  15. Wow, what a brilliant way of reviewing and buddy-reading!! I love it! Thank you girls, it was so interesting! This book is not on my list, YA bores me xD But I like how you expressed your feelings in a different way and I felt I know enough about the book to have an idea of whether or not it could end up as an odd add to my list, and the answer’s no! Fab post!

    Like

  16. Very interesting! I loved the description but then I’m a bit odd and always want more so maybe I just need to get Laini Taylor dropped in for every book I read to bulk it out a bit and then voila happy Claire! 😁
    Like you I loved the ending I felt it set the playing field perfectly for the next book and further character development aswell as the story development. I think had it gone the way Debbie was hoping it would have been too tidy.
    I’ve not read any of her other work, I went into this totally off the cover, because I fly like that! Iay try the earlier work bury understanding is it’s much more YA than this was so I’m dubious!

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    1. I agree it would have been much too tidy 🙂 There has definitely been some solid ground work laid for the next. I expect it to really pick up since it will be the conclusion. I will wait until I see some reviews to determine my mood as far as approaching it 😉

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  17. Fantastic collab for this book. Based on all those status updates for this book, I could only expect one thing from this book for you and it seems like it was exactly as it seemed! Quite unfortunate that the pacing was sooooo darn long. I love the analogy with the cake for this. I haven’t heard anyone say a single bad thing about her writing and I’m surprised by that! Sucks that the content and how everything was delivered is where it mostly faltered. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha thanks 🙂 Yeah, her writing is on point honestly. She creates a very fluid experience. So even though this read felt to long, it did not take that long for me. However, it was all in those pesky details. There are times when you want a lot of details and times when you want things to happen. I am not a fan of waiting until the last 20% or so for something to truly happen. I have read a few books where this “stage setting” worked, but I was just not into this time. Maybe the next and finally book will be much heavier now that the details have been established 😉

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  18. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one. I was going to wait until I saw it as an ebook for $1.99 (probably will be that after Christmas). That way if I am unimpressed as so many bloggers I follow have been, I’m not out a lot of dough. I haven’t read anything of hers, so I am totally clueless on the writing style. 🙂

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  19. Great review!! I think I’m definitely in the diehard fan category already, because I love Taylor’s work and before I’ve even read this one, I can see how her work might have a slow build up and read like a prologue… and still not care/have the feeling I’m going to love it anyway. That said, cos I loved her previous series so much, I am trying to make sure my expectations don’t get too high, so that when I eventually read this I won’t be let down (it’s just so hard!!) Reviews like this which are so balanced and raise so many good points are so helpful in that- so thank you!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am glad you enjoyed it! I was really struggling. It can be so hard to review a book that even though you do not connect fully with, you still see the beauty behind it. I think her writing is something to admire. You will probably love this. I may tackle the sequel is I find myself in need of a more “savory” read 😉

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