ARC Book Review: The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Biren

Posted August 27, 2014 by Debby in Reviews / 9 Comments

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Book Review: The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’BirenThe Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien
Series: The Vault of Dreamers #1
Published by Roaring Book Press on September 16, 2014
Genres: Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

From the author of the Birthmarked trilogy comes a fast-paced, psychologically thrilling novel about what happens when your dreams are not your own.

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. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What's worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.

3 Stars

The Vault of Dreamers instantly intrigued me with its premise, which basically promised me some mix of Big Brother and Inception. The result is a really intriguing thriller with some awesome science fiction aspects. However, with a confusing romance and cut-off ending putting me on the hook for a series, it wasn’t quite the total package.

The premise is indeed what got me hooked, and from page one I was completely absorbed by this book. Rosie is a student at the Forge School, a private boarding school for students of the creative arts which doubles as a national reality television show. However, there’s something odd about this school. They are forced to sleep 12 hours per night “to optimize their creativity” (during which the TV show can rerun the previous 12 hours) in these odd sleeping pods. Rosie, skipping her sleeping pill one night, soon finds out that mysterious things happen during the night and tries to find out as much as she can and expose the school. It was a truly intriguing story for me. I felt so engrossed, trying to puzzle it out alongside Rosie, and it had the right kind of creepy vibe that keeps you on your toes. And all of the technology that revealed this really was a futuristic setting (though close enough to the present) made my sci-fi loving heart very happy. Awesome gadgets paired with a great background in psychology to explain the purpose of the Forge School made the world building vivid, realistic, and truly fascinating.

However, the pacing of the story is a bit odd. It starts when Rosie has already been at the school for 7-10 days or something, the night before the day that the class would be cut in half – with only the students who pull in the most viewers being allowed to stay. It was jarring to me to have to catch up with exactly what this school was for, who Rosie was, why she was there, etc. I’m generally not a fan of a lot of back story being told via flashbacks, and I think The Vault of Dreamers did that a bit too much for me. It also made it really hard to swallow that in that single day she jumps from being ranked in the 90s to somehow still surviving the cut. Also, she just kept to herself for all that time and FINALLY started talking to some other people that exact day? Like, she just realized that it was important to do that, or she’d be forced to leave? I just think a lot of what I thought was implausible could have been smoothed over if the book started on day 1 at the Forge School.

Aside from the mystery that definitely kept me turning the pages like a beast, this story has a romance as well. And. Well. I’m not sure what I think about it. I definitely liked it at first, because Linus definitely does not like Rosie during their first interaction, and he makes that no big secret. Then, he kind of saves her by doing a fake romance – and you guys know how I usually fall for that stuff. But then it kind of petered off for me, because their feelings just seem to be genuine from that moment on. I mean, they get very little time to consider how they really feel, since they have to put on an act for the cameras, but they do find ways to communicate off screen. But while I appreciate how much they talk and really get to know each other – making this no instalove NO SIR – I still didn’t really get the chemistry between them. Of course, I was possibly expecting too much from this because I was not completely in the loop about the fact that this was a series…

The ending on this one is a really frustrating one, which is made even more annoying because I read it right after The Jewel. Both books have the same problem: they end in the middle of a conflict, which the whole book was working toward – but we get none of the resolution or reward for our patience and instead discover we’ll have to wait for the sequel for that. I didn’t even really realize that The Vault of Dreamers was a series. I was SO CONFUSED. I couldn’t find anything about it on Goodreads, except for a question the author answered on her page where she said a sequel would be coming next year. So I used my librarian powers to make this a little clearer for other readers because GODDAMN there’s nothing more annoying than finding out a book’s the first in a series only when you reach the END and there’s no conflict resolution at all. I was so confused where this story ended, and that leaves me with a really bad taste in my mouth. I don’t know what to make of this anymore.

Summing Up:

I won’t say I disliked this book, but I didn’t love it either. I feel like it left too much up in the air – particularly that ending, but also the romance and the character depth. I didn’t get absorbed emotionally by this story, though I did truly enjoy the world building bits and the many mysteries of the plot. So much scheming, so much intrigue! I just wish it were resolved better at the end. Now it’s another cliffhanger getting me on the hook for another series. *sigh*

GIF it to me straight!


My feelings regarding the ending. -.-

Recommended To:

Fans of futuristic thrillers with a background in psychology, like Uninvited.

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9 responses to “ARC Book Review: The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Biren

  1. I really liked this one, it was so creepy and disturbing. I hated the ending. Not only was it a cliffhanger, but did you understand what actually happened???? I was so confused by those last couple of paragraphs! I would love to talk to someone about it, I read the last couple of pages a few times and I’m still…WTF?
    Pam@YA Escape from Reality recently posted Book Review: Day 21 by Kass MorganMy Profile

    • I did not understand a single thing. Like, she sent held onto her dream image of her sister as she was being extracted so… what I’m guessing is that her consciousness is being extracted from her body and she’ll wake up in someone else’s? But it’s all so bizarre, and the science which held up until then kind of falls apart. =/

    • You know, that’s a good point. I’m not one for reality shows either, but in books I love them. Especially the whole big brother concept – when there’s some kind of mystery behind it. That did keep me intrigued here, but the cliffhanger ending was the worsttttt. I hope you like it, if you decide to read it!

    • Right? The ending was just a messsss and I don’t think I will care enough next year to continue with the series. Just not enough substance. Womp womp.

  2. Ryan (SPOILER ALERT)

    I really enjoyed the setting of this book (The Forge), but I found the science extremely dubious. Now, I’m no pschycoligist, but the dream mining/seeding was an off-putting plot mechanic. I don’t especially mind when authors create their own plot mechanics (after all, isn’t that what much of fiction is about?), but I do mind when they are badly explained. If all you do to mine a dream is read brainwaves, why can’t you artificially create a dream? And if reading and mining are different, how on Earth does mining work? Do you physically go in and monitor each synapse, or do you measure activity in different areas of the brain? Aren’t brains so complex that an idea of an item, much less a whole scene, couldn’t just be transferred from one person to another? I found the split identity aspect, though implausible, an interesting way to express internal struggles. To me the ending was especially frustrating, as Sandy closed in on Rosie and she was powerless. As for the characters, I found Rosie likable enough, but I wish the others had more depth/appeared more in the story. Thanks for the review!

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