Author: Lindsay Smith
Publication Date: October 6th, 2015
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Source: Bought It
Where to find: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository
Summary: 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 really enjoy Lindsay Smith's writing style and her vision when it comes to stories. This book had many parallels to Sekret in terms of spies and espionage, but this book was a political fantasy espionage book whereas Sekret was more paranormal/magical realism espionage. Dreamstrider was full of amazing imagery and fantastic characters. There was a slight lack of world-building, but for a standalone fantasy book, this is almost expected.
Our main character Livia was so refreshing compared to many other YA heroines. She was flawed in so many ways and not the best or brightest, but still did things herself and attempted to be independent. I also really enjoyed the other characters around Livia, including Vera, Brandt, and even Professor Hesse. They each added to the story and helped explained both what was currently happening and past events. I also appreciated that while there is romance in this book, that is not the focal point (and bonus points for no insta-love). This was more about Livia learning about herself and about protecting her home country.
Other than the deficits in world-building, I did not have any major issues with this book as a whole. The ending seemed a little rushed, but again that is somewhat expected in a standalone. And I know that is not a good excuse but there are so few standalones, especially in fantasy and paranormal genres, that I really do appreciate the books that are.
That being said, I would love another book in this world. It doesn't even have to follow the same characters. I'm just fascinated both by the idea of dreamstriding and the different cultures we are exposed to in this world. You have the Tunnelers and the Barstadt Empire, along with the two neighboring kingdoms.