The prose smacks you in the face from the very first page. I feel as if readers will love this style or not jive with it at all, it’s extremely stylized. It’s dense, there are lots of turns of phrase, unexpected word choice, simile, metaphor, references, vivid imagery etc. I think this would appeal to people who like literary fiction and a more modern setting/feel to it.
So, the book opens with a boy meets girl kind of thing, except they’re in their mid-20s and not kids/teens. It’s whirlwind romance and things get Weird fast for Nathaniel. He meets this woman named Winter York and she’s mysterious, alluring, wild, and just draws him right in. However, she has a stalker, and the stalker shows up on their first night together. The stalker starts pounding on the door demanding to see Winter, who he calls Nova, much to Nathaniel’s confusion.
Nathaniel is like, wtf is going on? Things only get Weirder when she gives him the explanation. The stalker? He’s an author, and he controls her dreams through his writing. If he touches you, for the next few days or a week he can write your dreams (which are his novels) and you have very little control over what happens. She explains to Nathaniel that he’s in great danger, and not to go to sleep. If you die in your dream you die in real life, and this author has killed people before. Apparently, this author was once her creative writing teacher and she got sucked into his fantasy world fighting monsters and being a hero. To some people this may sound awesome, but when you start killing your own friends and have no control over it, it’s really not that fun. It’s even less fun when the author won’t let you go, stalks you, and threatens to kill your family if you don’t participate in his dream world/novel. He’s like a Steven King of this world, super famous and this series is read by millions.
We get this story both by Winter’s perspective and Nathaniel’s, and I suppose I liked Winter more. The pacing was a little odd in that the first third of the book is basically all from Nathaniel’s perspective, the middle third is basically just Winter and then the latter third is a mix. It’s an unusual choice and I can’t decide if it worked for me or not. I think the bigger issue for me is the eleven years spanned in the middle, there was a pretty big gap in time from beginning to end and I didn’t “feel” it, I was told about it by the characters and was surprised by how much time had lapsed.
The writing is the clear highlight and/or bone to pick with this, I suggest reading a sample to see if you’d be interested. Often times the writing did accomplish its goal and it gave me a vivid scene, or had playful imagery and word choice that I liked. This is really hard to do, and I’d almost compare the word play to Bancroft. I’d also say, however, there were also certain phrases that didn’t work for me, for example “wandering planet eyes” did not work for me, I have no idea what that’s trying to convey, but “mailbox slit eyes” did work for me.
Considering this was based in the real world I was surprised that there were a decent number of classic fantasy fight scenes thanks to the fact they get teleported into this fantasy realm at the whim of the author in their sleep. Outside of that, however, there really is not a lot of world building here. This is based in our world and has a lot of references to pop culture, including books, including name drops like Denna from Kingkiller Chronicles.
I thought this was going one way. Then it didn’t go that way, and I can appreciate that. I think my biggest bone to pick was the romance aspect to this story. I am not at all into insta-love, it’s never worked for me and unfortunately this was no different. To talk about the ending is a little spoilery, and it’s really difficult to talk about my issues with the romance without addressing the ending… so… yeah. Lol. Unfortunately, I’ll have to leave it there.
I do definitely believe this book has an audience. It’s very different, and I think people who enjoy literary fiction would enjoy this style. At the time of this review, this book is marked as safe.