Search This Blog

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien

The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien.  

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I didn't expect much from this novel when I first requested it, but I needed something to read, and I really liked the cover.  Oh, yes, cover art is more influential than we like to acknowledge.  Certainly, most bloggers often like to mention the cover art and will admit to some influence,  but cover art can make or break a book for me. There are some excellent books that I've never read because I didn't like the cover.  And the opposite is also true.

Surprise!  I found myself engrossed in The Vault of Dreamers almost immediately and literally had to force myself to put it down because my eyes were too tired to read anymore.  

Of course, for every reader the experience is different, but one of the miracles of story-telling occurs when the author catapults you into the world they've created, and you just accept whatever is going on regardless of how impossible, unreal, or fantastic. 

From the book description:   The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success:  every moment of the students' lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students' schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. 
Hmmm, I thought when I read that.  Sounds like a familiar plot line to me.  Another YA novel that will be predictable.

Of course, there is some predictability, I mean "there's nothing new under the sun" and any popular trope is going to used again and again.

Nevertheless, the author quickly engaged my interest in the characters and the more I read, the more I wanted to know.  Classes, lunch, the entire campus--everything except bathrooms and the sleeping/dressing rooms is on camera.  Every activity, every conversation.  Privacy is next to impossible.  How much is behavior influenced by the cameras?  

Rosie is a great little protagonist; her talent at this school for the talented involves film, and she frequently thinks in terms of movie scripts, solving problems based on films she has seen or that she wants to create. From a family with no money to spare, attending an arts school like The Forge is an amazing opportunity, and perhaps her only one if she wants a career in film.

Unfortunately, there will be a cut and students who don't make the cut will be sent home.  The cut is determined much like on other reality shows--audience interest.  In this case, the audience can choose to follow any students they find interesting.  Rosie's "blip scores" aren't nearly good enough, and she pretty much accepts her fate.  Like it or not, she expects to be sent home.

Of course, you know what will happen:  her blip scores will increase drastically (but why?), and Rosie will stay at the school (but is that a good thing or is it terribly dangerous?).

Nothing in the NetGalley description indicated that this was not a stand-alone, but I should have realized that the trend to trilogies/series is really pretty much a fait accompli.  I bet the statistics would show that more fiction is written as series than as stand-alones--at least in fantasy, science fiction, and YA novels.

The frustration of a novel that you have raced through--only to end in a cliff-hanger!   Ms. O'Brien, please write quickly...!

I haven't read O'Brien's Birthmarked trilogy, but it is now on my radar.

Read in June; blog review scheduled for Aug. 20, 2014.

 NetGalley/Macmillan's Children's Publ./Roaring Brook Press

Science Fiction/Fantasy.  Sept. 16, 2014.  Print version:  432 pages.


  1. Goodness, this sounds fascinating! Yes, similar plots have been done, but so what. This one sounds just different enough to be a great read, so I thank you for bringing it to my attention. I will be on the lookout for it.

  2. Rita - it is definitely a YA book, but it hooked me!

  3. Wow, this sounds great! I like the premise you described. Who knows, this series may end up on the big screen! ;)

    Will look out for this!

  4. This sounds like something I'd absolutely love. I already feel drawn to Rosie because one of my daughters is a serious film buff, and in many ways, movies are the filter through which she sees the world. I am definitely adding this to my list.

  5. Melody - Some YA books just captivate me. :) You are right, I think this would make a great movie or tv series...if they did a good job of casting.

    Irene - As Melody mentioned, this one would make a good movie. Your daughter would probably enjoy The Vault of Dreamers!

  6. I don't know that cover art affects me quite so much in terms of determining whether I like or dislike the content of a book. I can't think of a time it has. But I do know it can make a difference in whether I even pick up a book to read. I'm more likely to steer far away from books with certain covers and instantly grab and start reading others--without knowing what the book is about.

    About the book. :-) The Vault of Dreamers sounds really good! Good to know about the cliff hanger. Now I know to wait until further along in the author's writing before picking up this one.

  7. Wendy - Oh, the cover art may have more meaning after reading the book, but for me, the sad truth is I might miss some good books because I didn't like the cover enough to look at more closely at the book description.

    When choosing a book, the cover has a great deal of influence--like you mention, certain covers I steer away from and others are like a magnet.