Dreamland Review! | A Darker Contemporary Than I Was Expecting…

Hi friends! Today, I’m reviewing a book that surprised me. If you’ve been around for a while, you know that I don’t read a lot of contemporary*. So when I picked one up from the “Queen of Contemporary” I was expecting to severely dislike it. I know they say don’t judge a book by it’s cover/genre but look I’m judge-y with my books. So yeah let’s begin!

*yes that IS why you see the same four contemporary books appearing in every post that calls for one…smh

Wake up, Caitlin

Ever since she started going out with Rogerson Biscoe, Caitlin seems to have fallen into a semiconscious dreamland where nothing is quite real. Rogerson is different from anyone Caitlin has ever known. He’s magnetic. He’s compelling. He’s dangerous. Being with him makes Caitlin forget about everything else–her missing sister, her withdrawn mother, her lackluster life. But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?

In general, I really like Sarah Dessen’s writing style. It’s not too glitzy, nor too simple, but gets the point across while still being engaging. Also, I liked the length of the story*!

*hey reading all those shadowhunter books really makes you appreciate the short things in life

There was a lot I enjoyed about this novel. First of all, the whole sister dynamic??? The family relationships??? Caitlin’s sister Cassie running away in literally the first chapter of the book was a brilliant introduction. It meant that we already had information about every character, their personalities, even Caitlin herself. It meant that I didn’t have to trudge through an entire psychologist’s report on everyone.

Second of all, I actually liked Caitlin. She lived in the shadow of her “perfect” sister: the one with the grades, the trophies, the boyfriends, the parental approval – the list goes on. So when Cassie goes missing, Caitlin struggles with missing her and finally feeling free to forge her own way through life. Enter Rogerson, the bad bad boy who smokes and is a drug dealer. Yeah. The pacing was actually very well done, because Rogerson wasn’t introduced until farther along in the book than I was expecting. That left me with time to become invested in the story, to grow attached to the characters.

Before I go on, I do want to state trigger warnings for abuse, both physically and emotionally.

This was what I wasn’t expecting. Listen, I was over here thinking “the darkest thing that’s gonna happen is nighttime’s going to yeet itself across the sun” when suddenly the story took a turn. I can’t speak for the abuse, and the accuracy of the emotional triggers and trauma but from my own opinions and research on the psychological effects of abuse I thought it was rather well-done. Caitlin’s emotional dependency with Rogerson left her blinded, falling deeper and deeper into an unsafe mental and physical spiral. I was sickened many times, and I think one of the worst moments was when she was literally terrified for her life of being a single second late. Terrified. It shook me to the core.

The entire plot touched on far deeper subjects than I could have imagined, such as social pressure, and how sometimes “true love” doesn’t last. And sometimes it does. Even reading from Caitlin’s perspective alone, I felt like I really knew the side characters. They all had their own defined, quirky parts to play, which I liked!

Well first of all, my biggest problem:

the dreaded insta-love.

In the author’s defense, this is an old book (like 2002? 2004? IS IT EVEN THIS MILLENNIUM I DON’T KNOW) so YA fiction wasn’t quite as diverse nor advanced as now. Still, I think the emotional impact and overall message could have hit even harder if the author hadn’t literally made it love at first sight.

Also, the ending felt really rushed??? It kind of snowballed, and I felt like everything was happening too fast. But of course, that could be because I was inhaling the words almost as fast as I do cookie dough. And I didn’t really understand the concept of dreamland.

A random music rec for this book is Shallow by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper! The song shares many similarities to Caitlin’s feelings throughout the book.

So that’s it! Tell me: have you read this??? What’s your favorite Sarah Dessen novel???

18 thoughts on “Dreamland Review! | A Darker Contemporary Than I Was Expecting…

  1. Great review! I read this ages ago, closer to when it was released and enjoyed it, but now I’ve read some more advanced YA (Like you mentioned) I think it falls flat in comparison.
    -Emma 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is probably her darkest one, but still so good. I love all of her books, but my favorite is The Truth About Forever. I like that Dessen usually does tackle hard topics with each book, though this is the hardest. Another good one is Just Listen which deals with eating disorders.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Love your review! And this book sounds amazing! Ok amazing’s probably not the right word as it deals with abuse, but interesting. And the other story line as well? I normally don’t read contemporary but when I do it’s usually this happy stuff like Fangirl or Top Ten, but this sounds so intriguing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved reading this review especially where you said you expected the darkest thing to be night 😂😂 I don’t read much contemporary but I am intrigued– I like looking at family dynamics and social pressure– I think it’s interesting!! It is a shame about insta-love but I might check it out!! Great review!! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Amazing review! Sarah is my queen forever and this was the first book of hers that made me realize that, no matter how much I loved her “fluffy” contemporary anyways, there’s a lot more to her than that. I remember this book totally wrecking me the first time I read it and I’ve been meaning to reread it lately but it’s just… ouch 😬😂

    Liked by 1 person

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