A complimentary advanced reader copy of this book was provided by Roaring Brook Press in exchange for an honest review. (Thank you!) My review was in no way influenced by this consideration.
“I missed night. I had other reasons to disobey, too like wanting to escape the cameras, but most of all, I missed the deep, vacant darkness of night.”
I love a good first line, and the beginning of The Vault of Dreamers captured me, immediately. Anyone who’s read O’Brien’s Birthmarked trilogy knows what a statement she’s making with that first line: this book is nothing like what you’ve read from me, before. I read it, and I was hooked.
There’s so much to love about Vault. One of the things I actually enjoyed most about O’Brien’s Birthmarked series were her characters–they made deep impressions on me–and I love how she continues to write female protagonists who are brave and determined right through to the core. Her supporting characters, here, are varied in all kinds of ways–teenage student artists, overly hubristic scientists, a hardworking but impoverished mother who makes bad choices in her personal life, some downright complex male father figures, and an innocent and largely unaffected sister. To say they create a tapestry seems cliche, but the characters were what made the book truly compelling for me–I had to know what would happen with each of them, and what part they would play in the story.
As for the story, itself, it was a complete departure from anything I’ve read in a while, and I loved it. It’s sci-fi through and through: Rosie’s at a private school for the arts, but she’s competing with 100 kids to be able to stay in one of the 50 spots available to the members of her class. The terms? The entire school is filled with little cameras; it’s a reality show, and your feed’s ratings determine your rank. The bottom 50 get sent home. It’s the last day of the competition, Rosie is at the bottom, and she’s got to stay.
And then, of course, everything goes completely haywire. 🙂
I absolutely adored the plot of Vault. I did end up with a couple of questions in the end that were never answered–why did Burnham want to help her? What was his motivation? Why was Rosie able to do what she did at the end? How did that work? What happened to Linus?? Regardless, I was (mostly) OK with not having them answered, and I kind of loved how it all wrapped up. Even with 30 pages left to go, I had NO IDEA how the book was going to end, and I really loved that.
Totally clean. A lil’ romance, a lot of crazy “what the…??” and some great, authentic writing. 4 fat stars.
…when I reluctantly slid my arms into the sleeves of his jacket, I could feel his residual body heat in the fabric.
“Okay, I’m never giving this back,” I said.
He laughed. “I’ve missed you,” he said.
“You saw me yesterday.”