The Dream Engine by Leah Karloff
ashley | The Dream Engine is another book that we were pitched, by author Leah Karloff, a student from the UK. I am absolutely loving how many young authors are approaching us these days. I love seeing such writing ambition in people so young. Of course I wanted to check out this book.
Oy, I have a lot to stay about this book. Let’s start with the world building. Karloff built a very interesting and oppressed world here, where children were barely able to attend school because they had to work, where townspeople were mysteriously abducted in the night after being suspected of speaking outside of the common rules, where people were expected to make sacrifices of art and literature to bonfires; it was all very Big Brother and I loved it. It scared me, but I loved it and I loved exploring the town within the walls, anxious to break through and see what Kara finds outside of them. As the book grew, the world building grew into something wonderful. There were so many little creative ideas and unique concepts that I really, really enjoyed. So imaginative, so interesting, so well thought out.
There is a really strong written voice as well, something that isn’t always guaranteed with a younger writer. I really liked a lot of her phrasing and the way she described things. There was a real maturity in her writing, it didn’t seem amateur. This helped a lot with the world building and describing some of the scenes.
The story starts off really strong, too. I was immediately captured by the scene, even more so at the mention of time travel. That’s definitely one of my favourite topics to read about. But the first half of the book was kind of a tease when it came to time travel; it was dangled in front of me and then kind of forgotten about, to the point where I started second guessing whether I misunderstood what had happened in the beginning. But then it’s mentioned again, or witnessed, actually.
This same thing happened with dreams. We were given descriptions of some of the dreams Kara has, but nothing else really about them or why they were even being shared with us. The title of the book even mentions dreams, so the fact that this wasn’t really a focus was strange to me. This is an ongoing theme in the book though; a few things seem to fall through the cracks and other things are just lightly sprinkled on top without really being deeply woven into the story.
It gets a little confusing at times, there’s a lot of new information and it feels like there are some holes here and there. And you have a LOT of questions throughout, most of which are answered at some point, some which are not, so if you are someone who hates having more questions than answers, this might kind of throw you off a little bit. Especially when it comes to the ending, I was kind of confused and overwhelmed and uncertain about exactly what was happening and how it all wove together. I don’t know if it was overly complicated or I just had a lot of pieces I was trying to tether together, and a lot of questions that weren’t really answered.
But the story itself I actually really enjoyed. Super enjoyed! There were some moments where I just couldn’t handle what was happening, it was too intense. And there were a lot of really great creative aspects that built this world, as I mentioned. And a love story that I found so refreshing and adorable! This book had so many little unique things and a lot of surprises I didn’t see coming that sets it far apart from a lot of other books that are super popular and super talked about and super generic.
I’m ashamed to say I went into this with little expectations and Karloff totally blew me away. I thought this was just such a unique and creative story. Sure, there were some issues with the threads tying everything together through the middle, but overall I just really enjoyed the story here and for a debut, I think it was a great effort. I feel like things were sort of wrapped up at the end, but also it was really abrupt and left some lingering questions, so I figure there might be a second book? I’d love to read more that Karloff has written as I expect that imaginative mind of hers has a ton of stories just waiting to escape.
april 3, 2016
copy provided for honest review by