The Dreamers – another excellent book of doom
Judy says, The Dreamers is another excellent book of doom by Karen Thompson Walker.
Remember The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker? It was published a while back. It was about a girl coming of age in an apocalyptic world. It wasn’t just her teen years that made everything seem apocalyptic, though the main character was an awkward outsider with boy trouble whose parents’ marriage was unraveling. In the story, the world was actually ending. The sun was burning up the earth and destroying habitats. First the birds died off. And the mammals, including humans, were sure to follow. Despite such despair, it was a good book. Beautifully written. Walker’s sweet words and phrases made it impossible to put down.
Well, Karen Thompson Walker has written another excellent book of doom. This one is called The Dreamers. It begins on one floor of a college dorm room in a small California college town. A young college student passes out after a night of drinking. She doesn’t wake up hungover though…. She just never wakes up. She sleeps on. And then another student falls asleep. And another. And then more of them. And then a college janitor. And then a healthcare worker. And the count rises.
The college is quarantined. Next the hospital. Followed by the city. The illness spreads. People are falling asleep (for good) while driving, making tea, standing in grocery checkout lines. Children are left unattended by parents who succumb to the illness. Stray dogs are running around still leashed. The ill are clearly not the only victims. Casualties abound. That’s Walker’s style. She writes with an old testament hand. If you are born a character in a Walker book, your future, if you have one, is not bright. Several times while reading, I just closed the book to shake my head in wonder over the cruel fate of a character I had been rooting for. But it could also be a metaphor for other ills that spread, as though airborne, and have the potential to ruin humans and take down humanity – like uncivility, hatred, intolerance, racism. The name of the book alone, The Dreamers, connotes the spread of hatred toward our Mexican neighbors thati s perpetuated by our own government. Is Walker suggesting that hatred such as this is invisible at first, like a germ, and can spread to even healthy-minded individuals?
Too, The Dreamers could be a take on the age-old stoner quest for truth: What if I’m just dreaming and you’re all part of my dream. Whoaa, freaky.
As depressing and scary as this story seems, it is compelling and thought provoking. It’s a gripping page-turner. It goes on my list of recommendations. I can’t wait for you all to read it so we can talk it over.
As the epidemic rages on, resources run thin. Civilians outside the city cannot get in to help with supplies, childcare, or any type of respite. Many begin to doubt the validity of the mushrooming illness. Paranoia and rumors of conspiracy spread like their own type of malignancy.
Walker gives us many angles to consider. I read The Dreamers at the same time the Coronavirus began spreading through China and leaking into other countries. Supplies such as masks and hand sanitizer are running out in major cities. The Dreamers could be a straightforward story about a deadly epidemic that takes over the world.