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The Dreamers

A Novel
Written by: Karen Thompson Walker
Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell
Length: 10 hrs and 29 mins
4 out of 5 stars (25 ratings)
Price: CDN$ 35.09
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Publisher's Summary

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

“This book is stunning.” (Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven)

Named one of the most anticipated books of 2019 by Vogue, Huffpost, Real Simple, PopSugar, Literary Hub, BuzzFeed, Bustle, and Vulture

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)

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

The Dreamers is a startling, beautiful portrait of a community in peril....This is an exquisite work of intimacy. Walker’s sentences are smooth, emotionally arresting - of a true, ethereal beauty.... This book achieves [a] dazzling, aching humanity.” (Entertainment Weekly)

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

What the critics say

“Within the spellbindingly measured narrative of the public health crisis are woven emotionally charged individual stories.... What is the nature of an epidemic? What is the nature of consciousness? What mix of loyalty and love binds individuals together? These are a few of the questions Walker raises in her provocative, hypnotic tale.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

“Frighteningly powerful, beautiful, and uncanny, The Dreamers is a love story and also a horror story - a symphonic achievement, alternating intimate moments with a panoramic capture of a crisis in progress.” (Karen Russell, author of Vampires in the Lemon Grove

“A modern Midsummer Night’s Dream.... In this wonderful novel, Walker paints a haunting canvas exploring time, memory, consciousness, and youth.” (Marisha Pessl, author of Night Film)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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disappointed

this book was a struggle to keep listening to and I found myself thinking about other things an awful lot. it also seems to have many similarities to a Stephen King novel called Sleeping Beauties. I kept waiting for something exciting to happen, and it never did. All in all not impressed.

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Wonderful!

Slow to start... I wasn’t sure if I would like it. But once things got going I couldn’t stop listening. Loved the attention to character development and how close it made me feel to the people in the story. Not your typical sci-fi contagion story, this is much more about the emotional experience of a spreading sickness.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Betsy A Alles
  • 2019-01-17

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.

10 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Housepants97
  • 2019-01-18

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.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Joshua Abbott
  • 2019-01-20

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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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2019-01-18

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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  • Richard
  • 2019-01-28

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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  • David
  • 2019-01-23

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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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • NMwritergal
  • 2019-01-22

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

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • MGRL
  • 2019-01-20

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

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  • macy
  • 2019-01-16

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

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Chester Johnson
  • 2019-02-16

A sleeping virus!

I was a fan of Age of Miracles by the same author, and the premise of this book seemed pretty good, a small California town's residents a stricken with a mysterious "sleeping virus" which starts on the local college campus.

All in all this wasn't as good as Age of Miracles in my opinion, the author adds WAAAAAY too many characters to follow, and you never really feel any real connection with any of them in the end. It's a very well written story, and it finishes well, albeit without really explaining how the virus came about in the first place. The intriguing aspect was that some of the Dreamers in the novel may have potentially had small prophetic dreams, which we also never get any follow up with after the sickness ends. This was between a 3 and 4 star out of 5 read just for how well the story was written and its subject.