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‘Riveting, profoundly moving’ Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven
‘Beautiful and devastating’ Red
‘Thought-provoking and profound’ Cosmopolitan
Imagine a world where sleep could trap you, for days, for weeks, for months…
She sleeps through sunrise. She sleeps through sunset.
And yet, in those first few hours, the doctors can find nothing else wrong. She looks like an ordinary girl sleeping ordinary sleep.
Karen Thompson Walker's second novel tells the mesmerising story of a town transformed by a mystery illness that locks people in perpetual sleep and triggers extraordinary, life-altering dreams.
One night in an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a first-year student stumbles into her room and falls asleep. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital.
When a second girl falls asleep, and then a third, 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.
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 Age of Miracles:
'What a remarkable, beautifully wrought novel' Curtis Sittenfeld
‘A beautifully observed coming-of-age tale… nimble, delicate and emotionally sophisticated’ Observer
‘Hauntingly believable… an impressive and quietly terrifying book’ Sunday Times
'A stunner from the first page… I loved this novel and can't wait to see what this remarkable writer will do next' Justin Cronin
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
A first year student at a small California college falls asleep and can’t be roused. Soon, more of her classmates—and an ever-increasing number of townspeople and aid workers—are similarly afflicted: suspended in a dream state and kept alive via feeding tubes. We devoured Karen Thompson Walker’s novel, which shifts from intimate snapshots of the lives disrupted by the so-called Santa Lora Virus to sharp insights into the evolution of a public health crisis. The Dreamers raises compelling questions about memory, love, time, and the tension between individual bonds and the greater good.
Walker's richly imaginative and quietly devastating second novel (after The Age of Miracles) begins in a college dorm in an isolated town in the hills of Southern California, where a freshman thinks she is coming down with the flu. In fact, she has a mysterious disease that causes its victims to fall into a deep, dream-laden sleep from which they cannot be woken, and which sometimes leads to death. The disease spreads slowly at first, then more rapidly, and soon the whole town is under a quarantine. The perspective moves smoothly in and out of the minds of several of the college students and town residents, drawing back to look at the entire situation from a detached but compassionate point of view and then plunging back into the minds of those attempting to deal with the escalating problems. Among the characters are Mei, a lonely college freshman; 12-year-old Sara, who copes with an unhinged survivalist father; Sara's neighbors, a faculty couple with a newborn baby; and aging biology professor Nathaniel. As the majority of the people of the town fall victim to the disease, neuropsychiatrist Catherine Cohen, separated from her family by the quarantine, tries desperately to find its cause, until arson at a library that's being used as a makeshift hospital has unintended results on the state of some of the dreamers. The relatively large number of central characters makes it likely that some will succumb to the disease, upping the suspense of the story. Walker jolts the narrative with surprising twists, ensuring it keeps its energy until the end. This is a skillful, complex, and thoroughly satisfying novel about a community in peril.