28 February 2012

(ARC) YA Book Review: Life is But a Dream by Brian James

Release Date: 27 March 2012
Publisher: Fiewel & Friends
Source: Around the World ARC Tours

Goodreads description:
Alec and Sabrina are crazy in love. Problem is: Sabrina’s really crazy.

Sabrina, an artist, is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and her parents check her into the Wellness Center. There she meets Alec, who is convinced it's the world that's crazy, not the two of them. They are meant to be together; they are special. But when Alec starts to convince Sabrina that her treatment will wipe out everything that makes her creative, she worries that she'll lose hold of her dreams and herself. Should she listen to her doctor? Her decision may have fatal consequences.
My Thoughts...

Books set in psychiatric institutions fascinate me.  Their world is completely different from anything that we experience on a regular basis--the doctors, the regimens, the interactions.  It also takes a lot of careful consideration to craft a character living in a setting like this.  Brian James created a very interesting world here, but for some reason, something didn't 100% click for me with this one.

The main character, Sabrina, is locked up in a psychiatric facility and diagnosed as schizophrenic.  She's slowly progressing towards normal when Alex enters her life and turns everything upside down. She rather quickly spirals backwards into her delusions.

Sabrina is really a fascinating character to follow.  James really takes you straight into her head and determining the dreams and delusions from reality is next to impossible at times.  Seeing the world through Sabrina's eyes shows the reader both the beauty and the terror that can come with such a life.  It was really difficult for me, as a reader, to watch her stop taking the medications and for her delusions to beginning returning at full force.  I liked her so much as a character that I wanted her to recover and have a shot at a normal life.

Alex...well, as a love interest he was a bit of a disappointment to me at times.  I wanted Sabrina to have someone who loved her and her wacky way of thinking, feeling, and seeing things.  Alex seemed like that person...at least at first.  I don't think that he was ever able to grasp the severity of Sabrina's disease, and I didn't like how he convinced her that taking the medications and following the doctors' orders would take away her creativity and unique visions--i.e. everything that she feels makes her special and loved by him.  He redeemed himself quite a bit in the later parts of the story. 

I'm not exactly sure what makes this more of a three star than a four star book for me.  I definitely enjoyed reading it, but it wasn't the sort of book that I was racing to pick up each whenever I had time to read. The pacing is a bit slow and the world didn't pull me in as much as I was expecting.  The most exciting moments come rather late in the story, and while those moments were incredibly well-written, they were simply difficult to GET to because of the slower pacing at the beginning.  I wouldn't warn anyone away from this book if  they're interested, just be aware that it's not a fast-paced read.


Giselleco said...

I'm reading this one soon and I wasn't sure what to expect really. Shame about the love interest but it still sounds pretty good overall Great review Jessi!

Xpresso Reads

LaToyaL said...

This definitely seems like a hit or miss kind of book. The subject matter is kind of different than other books but it's interesting enough for you to really want to give it a chance. I love the cover and the title is ridiculously clever. Great review!

~ La Toya (La Toya, Literally)

Victoria Scott said...

I totally agree with your review. Not sure why I was so eager to always keep ready this little beauty, but I was. I think I was just in the mood to read something different, and this book was nothing if not different. :) 

Jessi said...

I'll definitely agree that it was different! It's the kind of book that I think I really want/need to read again someday--it's struck me as something that can be really affected by your mood. 

Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

What an interesting premise.  It certainly sounds different.

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