This illustrated novel tells the tale of a dystopian future where, following a war that nearly devastated humanity, the survivors partnered with Artificial Intelligence to create a brighter future.
The people enjoy a virtual utopia every night by using interactive dream technology, but their computer-generated dreams are the only source of entertainment available. The AI determined that the root cause of all harmful human behaviours was uncontrolled emotions, but balanced, harmonious emotions are an integral aspect of wellness. It concluded that the only way to reliably achieve that was to eliminate emotion while a person was awake, then provide a safe way to experience the complete range of human emotions while engaged in dreaming.
The story follows a man who struggles to hide the fact that he can still feel a low level of emotions during the day. He must keep his secret emotions and his mind strictly controlled—through the use of meditation—but he continues to make that harder and harder to accomplish when his life is on the line.
I received this book from the author for free. All comments and opinions are entirely my own and this review is voluntary.
In a post-apoc world, AI is the god that determines life and death. Emotions are suppressed by medications during the day, but then stimulated at night by an artificial type of lucid dreaming. As John witnesses the people around him begin to be “removed”, he starts to question what his life truly means and what his role in it is.
I want to begin this review by saying that this premise of story is what sparked my interest in Dreaming Your Dream. I love a good controlling AI story and post-apoc dystopian is one of my favorite settings. The central focus of human emotion was also a new concept to me and I was incredibly curious about what might happen. Unfortunately though, I found the execution of the writing to be poorly matched for this dystopian and I truly didn’t care for the ending.
In referring to the execution of the writing, I found each chapter to be incredibly repetitive. Nearly every chapter begins with the same structure of John waking up, going to work, battling an internal monologue and complaining about his boss, going home, more internal monologue, then a weird dream. And repeat. For the first nearly 250 pages this is pretty much all there is. Sure, there’s a few other little tidbits of change that happen here and there, but honestly, I think you could read the first chapter, then flip to the halfway mark and still be able to follow the story surprisingly well. There’s just so much in the first half that truly wasn’t necessary to the story. I think there were maybe 3 dreams that were actually referred to more than once throughout the story (that I caught, so maybe the references were just too vague if they were there) and those were all after the halfway mark. So though the dreams were incredibly creative and made me very thankful that I don’t have dreams while I sleep, it was hard to understand the point of them being included so often when most of them carried no immense significance to progressing the story, other than illustrating that dreams stimulate emotions. The other aspect of the writing that didn’t sit well with me was that it was written very much as someone who would tell a story, rather than painting the story with words. The internal monologue is my least favorite form of characterization, but the complexity of not being able to write character emotion because of the story premise makes that the best option here, but, it still didn’t quite satisfy me because I really just don’t care for internal monologues.
The other major thing I didn’t like was the ending, which, I’m obviously going to be vague with to avoid spoilers, but you may want skip this paragraph if you want to go into this book completely blind. I felt like there was no actual “win” after the battle. It actually felt like a “lose”, which is a feeling that I am not accustomed with upon ending dystopian books and it left me unsatisfied. In dystopian, obviously loss is a prevalent concept because it’s those deep losses that motivate our characters to make a change, however usually there’s some type of win at the end. Something to make it all feel worth it. Something to make us proud of our character for standing up, etc. The end of this book felt like a defeat to me, and very much like the main character giving in. That’s not really what happened, but it’s what it felt like, but I won’t say any more about it.
Overall, I was really determined to like this book and that’s the only reason that I stuck with it to the end, however, I was just left even more disappointed after finishing it. I must say, that I really enjoyed the illustrations throughout the novel, that was very new to me, but I found myself looking forward to the next picture. Also, it is super cool how the author and her husband both inspired each other, him with her story, and her with his music. I actually listened to the album that is mentioned in the forward as I started the book, and it 100% matched the mood of the story! Loved it! So if you’re feeling adventurous, open-minded and enjoy internal monologues, give this book a shot.
Trigger warnings: Drug use. Cursing. Sexual assault implications (not detailed). Suicidal intentions. Some mildly detailed action.