Friday, December 5, 2014

Review: The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh O'Brien

The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh O'Brien
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Goodreads link: (click here)

What's it about?

Rosie Sinclair's family doesn't have much money which is why she doesn't have much of a future to look forward to. She lives with her overwoked mother, her often cruel stepfather and a little sister that she adores. When Rosie is accepted to attend the prestigious Forge School of the Arts as a filmmaker, she sees it as her chance to realize her dreams and escape her hopeless existence. But Forge is more than just a school, it is also a hugely popular reality television show. The students there are watched from the moment they arrive for twelve hours a day. The other twelve hours are spent sleeping. Twelve hours of induced sleep are required because it supposedly maximizes creativity. Many students have gone on to achieve great success, so everyone follows the rules without question because it seems to work. 

Unfortunately, Rosie finds herself about to be cut from the show/school because her ratings are too low,  so she decides to skip her sleeping pill and enjoy her final moments at Forge as much as she can. On her one night of simple rebellion she discovers strange things happening when the cameras are tuned off. Some of the students are being taken away and returned before morning and Rosie notices mysterious needle marks on her own arm. She's frightened by what she saw and curious about what's really happening. When an unexpected romance with a Forge Show employee gives Rosie a last minute ratings bump, she's able to stay at the school. She should use this second chance to get the education she'd never be able to receive otherwise, but instead she decides to further investigate what she saw. The more she uncovers, the less she trusts anyone, including herself. As much as Rosie knows that people love The Forge Show, she believes that something is horribly wrong here, and she intends to expose the truth and take down whoever's responsible. It's not going to be easy, because someone is always watching.

My thoughts:

Suspense, mystery, romance and reality tv make this first book in a new sci-fi/dystopian series a must read. Caragh O'Brien's writing is truly captivating, as well. I'd say The Vault of Dreamers is sci-fi suspense with a unique and somewhat fantastical element. It's science fiction because it deals with something called "dream mining", which isn't a real thing, thank goodness. It also focuses on the characters and their relationships, so even those who don't normally read sci-fi will enjoy it. It especially appeals to fans of reality television shows like Big Brother. I admit that I am what you'd call a "superfan" of that show. I watch the live feeds, discuss the show on message boards, vote in show polls, interact on different social media sites and pretty much invest way too much time into the show. I can absolutely see how a reality show could get away with things behind the scenes as long as people could watch the drama unfold and see what happens next. The reality show in The Vault of Dreamers is a bit different than most that are actually on tv because in the book, they are allowed contact with the outside world and can even interact with viewers or production staff. It's interesting to see how that might work out. People can change their behavior based on outside advice or personal ratings. My goodness! How different would most seasons of Big Brother have been if the houseguests knew what viewers really thought of them?

The bottom line, I really enjoyed this book. The ending left me wondering a bit, but more in a way that makes me anxious to read the next book. I have to know what really happened and what's going to happen next!

<3 Michelle

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