Title: Reverie by Ryan La Sala
Publication date: 3 December 2019
Genre: Fantasy | Young Adult
Page extent: 416 pages
Rating: 3/5 stars
Goodreads blurb: Inception meets The Magicians in the most imaginative YA debut of the year!
All Kane Montgomery knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. He can’t remember how he got there, what happened after, and why his life seems so different now. And it’s not just Kane who’s different, the world feels off, reality itself seems different.
As Kane pieces together clues, three almost-strangers claim to be his friends and the only people who can truly tell him what’s going on. But as he and the others are dragged into unimaginable worlds that materialize out of nowhere—the gym warps into a subterranean temple, a historical home nearby blooms into a Victorian romance rife with scandal and sorcery—Kane realizes that nothing in his life is an accident. And when a sinister force threatens to alter reality for good, they will have to do everything they can to stop it before it unravels everything they know.
This wildly imaginative debut explores what happens when the secret worlds that people hide within themselves come to light.
I feel like I’m letting everybody down with my thoughts on this book. I wanted to love this one so much, I’ve heard so many people excitedly rave about this book: the plot, the characters, about how amazingly queer it is. And whilst Reverie is one of the most exciting and unique plots I’ve seen all year, as much as I was in love with the unashamedly queer nature of this book, I felt the execution let it down.
The story begins when Kane is pulled from a lake, with no recollection of how he got there, or how his car had driven into an old, heritage mill and set it on fire. He has no answers to give the questioning police. But, when a mysterious individual, Posey, interrogates him under the guise of a psychologist, Kane vows to discover what happened and how – because if he does, Posey promises they will keep the police away from Kane. But as Kane begins to investigate, it appears he has forgotten even more than he originally believed.
This starts with an excellent premise: Kane has no idea about anything that has happened and so is discovering all of the magic of the world as the reader does. His first reverie, a dream world pulled from the subconscious of someone and made real, is as frightening and confusing for Kane as it is for us. What follows is a blend of action and wonder and utter fear as Kane explores the reverie, accidentally causing twists in the set story line with disasterous consequences. This premise is so unique and original, I absolutely love it. The very idea of reveries are so magical and amazing: I absolutely adore the thought of dreams becoming reality, or them having to follow a set storyline or cause utter mayhem and disaster when going off script. But even more than that, having been pulled from a person’s subconscious is the idea that they represent the true, unhindered and unashamed soul of a person in the reverie. I really like the way La Sala played with the idea of what is reality and what is fiction, bringing aspects of conflict from reality into the fictional reveries.
However. I have to say I wasn’t sold on the writing style. It almost seemed to be a mash of two different styles and they couldn’t decide which to go with? Half of it is quick, simple, unadorned. But then there will be random sentences of hugely detailed imagery plonked in the middle of nowhere. And whilst this imagery is beautifully written, it feels so out of place I was always just jolted out of the story and so I felt rather detached for most of the book. This book would’ve worked so much better if it had chosen either style and just stuck with it. In addition, this random change seemed replicated with the emotional hits. Kane would be walking along the street, then suddenly this mammoth line about emotion would come from nowhere and it just felt a little out of place.
When it comes to the characters, I again have very mixed feelings. I love Olivia. She seems so cool and I really got who she was, even though she isn’t one of the main characters. However everyone else is just….not very nice? I didn’t root for them to win at all. It was very difficult to see how they were friends at all, as they all seem to hate each other?
With our villain, Posey I adored how over the top and dramatic they were. A DRAG QUEEN SORCERESS ANYONE?! It was incredible. The description of her outfits whenever she enters is FABULOUS and I got such a good picture of her. You could really feel how powerful and in control she was of every situation. I just wanted some more backstory to her. There needed to be more information about why she doing what she was. I wanted her to feel more villainous I think? But despite that, I loved how unexpected Posey was as a character. I honestly had no idea what would happen whenever Posey appeared, and that made for lots of twists and turns!
The romance was also really great – I am SO HERE for the memory loss trope! I don’t want to give anything away, but I loved the morally gray aspect of the love interest, and his story was particularly interesting to me.
All in all this was a story that had an exciting plot and premise, but I felt lacked a little in the execution. In saying that, I definitely still enjoyed this book and read it so quickly! It’s fun and sassy and full of drama. Also drag queens and rainbow magic!
Rach + Draco