The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
by Karen Thompson Walker
Random House (January 15, 2019)
Electronic copy provided by publisher; hardback personal copy
Even though author Emily St. John Mandel has provided a recommendation on the cover of The Dreamers, prompting comparisons to her bestselling Station Eleven (one of my all-time faves), I do not think the two are very similar; instead, this novel reminds me of another of my favorites, The Unraveling of Mercy Louis by Keija Parssinen (review here), and I felt equally disturbed and enchanted by this story and its characters.
More than a simple doomsday tale, reminiscent of the 1995 film Outbreak, author Thompson Walker creates a story that is much more relatable and thought-provoking, thanks to to depth of its characters and the interconnectedness of their individual stories.
My experience of reading this novel is very similar to that of an interval workout: the pace is urgent, but sustainable; I push hard, my heart rate rises, and then I get a few minutes to recover. By varying the circumstances of each individual character - their position/station in life, age and experience, relationships - there is a natural progression to the narrative; the tension and discomfort are always present, but there are moments for reflection and even gratitude.
I don’t often read novels of this type or description so, when I do, I have high expectations; Karen Thompson Walker handles our fears and worst-case scenarios with care and this is a fantastic, pulsating, plot-driven novel with a beautifully emotional cast. This is my first novel of hers and now I’d like to read her debut, The Age of Miracles.