Updated: Mar 29, 2020
The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker has been on my TBR list for awhile, so I was excited when my library alerted me that my hold was in. I have heard some mixed reviews, but overall, I really enjoyed the plot and found that I had a hard time putting it down. I loved the authors writing style and the multiple storylines made the book read fairly fast.
The Dreamers is about a mysterious illness that takes over the town of Santa Lora, California. The unfortunate victims of this illness fall into a peacefully deep sleep that they cannot be waken from. The outbreak starts at the college campus, but eventually spreads to the entire city, resulting in a quarantine of the city. There are multiple story lines, but the most impactful ones follow Mei, a college freshman whose roommate is the first victim of the illness, Ben and Annie, a young married couple with an infant who recently moved to town, and Sara and Libby, daughters of a doom's day prepper father who have been warned of an event of this scale their entire lives.
The illness spreads quickly throughout the city and soon the hospital is running out of room to store "the sleeping" and they have to turn the campus into a make-shift hospital. Some people die from the disease simply because they fall asleep and are not found until they pass away from dehydration. The sick that are found and cared for, are lined up, sleeping soundly on cots with IV fluids hooked up to their bodies. No one knows where the disease came from and how bad it can get. The unknown is just as scary as the known, people are falling asleep and they are not waking up.
I love all three storylines and the only desire I have is for there to have been more character development for all three. I felt connected to each character, but wanted to get to know them more. I connected the most with Ben and Annie, being that they are young parents. They feared for their six week old daughter because they were alerted that she might be carrying the virus. I could not help but think of myself in that situation. Living in a city that is on lockdown, not knowing if my child, my spouse, or I will catch the virus. Not knowing what will happen and how the city will react. It is terrifying if you really let your mind wander.
I loved the concept of this book. I loved the movies Outbreak and Contagion, where there is an outbreak of a deadly disease, that originates from one simple source, but causes massive hysteria. (I also loved that in Contagion, the disease originated in Minnesota, but that is neither here nor there. 😃) It is incredibly frightening to think of what could happen if an outbreak affected a town like in these movies and in The Dreamers. I will forever be drawn to books and movies on mass hysteria from a disease outbreak.....this and true crime are some of my guilty pleasures.
I give The Dreamers a solid ★★★★. Karen Thompson Walker is a beautiful writer and I loved the storylines of the main characters and how some intertwined. My only wish is that some characters had more depth, but otherwise, it was wonderful.