Friday, October 17, 2014

The vault of dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien

The Forge School of the Arts is an elite school with a unique angle - the students spend their days crammed with classes, their nights asleep for twelve hours, and their days lived out on live television in the ultimate reality show.  Competition to get into the school is fierce, and even once you are in you are not truly safe because of the 100 teens who enter the school each year, only 50 get to stay.  It is an intense environment to live in, the students are constantly under a microscope and it is all too easy to fall into routines driven by the twelve hour cycles of sleeping and waking.

For Rosie Sinclair the Forge School is a chance for a future, a chance to make something of her life away from the cold distance of her stepfather and an almost certain future as a criminal.  Her old school may have written her off, but at Forge she has the chance to develop her talents as a film maker - but only if she survives the cut and makes it into the class.  When she breaks the rules and stays awake one night Rosie discovers that there is more to Forge than she knew, and this single discovery leads to a spiraling nightmare of uncovered conspiracies and discovered half conversations that convince Rosie of the danger that lurks beneath the surface.  The only bright spark in her life is her relationship with Linus, but even that may not be what it seems.  With the odds stacked against her, Rosie is about to play the biggest game of her life large and in person, streamed live from the halls of Forge.  Is it a game she can win though, or will the gamble she is about to take cost her everything?

The vault of dreamers is a fascinating and addictive read that has several different layers and secrets joined into a seamless whole that keeps you constantly on the edge of your seat wondering what will happen next.  Some of the elements of this story I have seen before, but never have they been brought together into a seamless package that makes you wonder what Rosie really knows or thinks she knows, and what you really know or think you know as the story twists and bends from start to finish.  In some ways the plot reminds me a little of Total Recall - do we ever truly know if Arnie's memory was wiped to hide a secret or if the while movie was the implanted memory?

Rosie makes a fascinating point of view for the readers and as we discover so much through her eyes it is important to feel connected to her straight away - and to be honest I felt the connection because I am always one to question, to challenge, and the explore to understand.  The story does seem a little unbalanced though, there is too much Rosie and not enough of the other characters which can come across as a little shallow or sketchy, even Linus the apparent secondary lead at times seems to be a shadow of what he could be.  This is more a distraction than a detraction, but it felt like the story could have been stronger if we heard more of the voices of the other characters.

I was excited when I picked up The vault of dreamers because it looked like it was a stand alone novel, but once I finished I realised this was the first book in a series and to be honest I felt a little cheated - it seems a promising start to a series but sometimes you just want to read a stand alone.  While this is a dystopian novel in the true sense (looks all peachy on the surface but something is not quite right) it is not as heavy as others in the genre - the impact is more on Rosie and a select few rather than a whole society or section of society.  There is a deeper meaning beneath all the dystopian and reality television references that make you wonder and question yourself which means it fits really well with the psychological and crime thriller genres too.

I don't always look at other peoples reviews when writing my own, but every now and then a book comes along that makes me curious about what other people think, and The vault of dreamers was one of those books.  Reviews from other readers are quite mixed, some saying the book is predictable and dull, while others can't stop raving about how great it was.  I think it was a really good/great read, but not a mind blowing and enthralling read - this is one for you to make your own minds up about.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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