I received an advance reader’s copy (ARC) of Reverie by Ryan la Sala. Since this version is just a proof and not the final version, I won’t quote directly and will keep my comments general.
Kane Montgomery has no memory of the last few months. All he knows is he crashed a car into a local landmark. Then, when a few classmates approach him and reveal the supernatural things that are happening in town, he isn’t sure who to trust or what to believe. But people’s dreams and fantasies are coming to life and trapping anyone nearby inside, so Kane has to not only discover the secrets of his past, but also find out how to save the town.
I liked Kane well enough as a protagonist, and the trio of schoolmates as supporting characters. They sometimes seem to react very much in the vein of emotional teens (which they are, so it makes sense), which rapidly gets old for me. Still, their contrasting personalities and skills made them an interesting and enjoyable team to read about. The other significant characters—Dean and Poesy especially—are intriguing in different ways, but elaborating on that would get us into spoiler territory so… never mind.
This premise is quite interesting—something like Inception but with fantasy elements. I particularly enjoyed the scenes that took place in people’s manifested fantasies, which are called reveries. These allow the author to play with new settings, such as a dystopian world or a Victorian party, and also point out certain tropes in those other genres. This was quite clever, and I had fun with it.
However, I wish the lore behind reveries, the kids’ abilities, and the mysterious item called the loom had been explained in more detail. Maybe I missed something, but I felt that I didn’t quite grasp fully how things worked. I knew enough to mostly follow what was happening, but some of the conclusions Kane came to toward the end felt under-explained. Related to that, the romance was fine but I think it could have been explored more. Kane and his love interest certainly have good chemistry, and the latter is intriguing, mysterious, but kind in an appealing way, but I wasn’t as invested as I think I was supposed to be.
I suspect both these criticisms stem from the fact that Kane doesn’t have his memories. While that’s a major obstacle for Kane overall, I think my investment suffered because of it. I could almost tell that la Sala knows more about Kane’s backstory than Kane himself does, and that he had trouble portraying his character’s ignorance.
In the end, though, Reverie is an entertaining debut novel. The characters are good, the concept clever, and the plot intriguing. The final climax was executed well. This isn’t a perfect book, lacking in sufficient world-building, for me, but it’s still a good adventure.
Overall rating: 7.8/10
Reverie is to be published December 3, 2019.