Cover Image: The Lost Dreamer

The Lost Dreamer

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Indir is a Dreamer, living in the Temple, with the ability to dream the truth. She is asked by the dying King to keep his last dream a secret. After going into the King's dream, Indir must hide the fact that she lost her ability to dream all together. When the King's son, Alcan returns from his journey and threatens to rid society of the Dreamers, Indir must leave her village and find The Lost Dreamer. Saya is a seer, controlled by her mother, Celay. They travel from village to village, never staying long as Celay pretends Saya's gift is her own and profiting off of it. Saya has always worn a necklace around her neck for protection, but one day it is stolen and her true abilities come to light. 

I found this book to be so slow paced, it definitely detracted from my enjoyment of the story. I felt bored throughout the majority of it, which was very disappointing. I also felt like there was a lot of context missing for a majority of the book, which makes sense in the end for the big "reveal" but it annoyed me while reading. I did enjoy the two main characters, and their individual struggles though. I definitely enjoyed Saya's story better, I loved watching her grow and come out stronger by the end of it. At times, I was a bit confused on who was who with so many side characters being introduced into each girl's story line. I just couldn't keep them all straight. I also wasn't the biggest fan of the romance aspect of this. I get why it was needed, I just didn't really vibe with it.
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<i>"I was sluggish with exhaustion, all my remaining energy focused on you. Eyes, fingernails, a face shaped like your father's. Black hair. You smelled of eternity, promise. Everything, every single pain and sacrifice were at once worth it. [She] tended my body as I lay on my pallet, staring at you in the moonlight streaming through the doorway.
I didn't need the Dream. I had you."</i>

TL;DR: An intriguing premise + a unique (re: under-represented) setting + a largely female-driven plot should come together, but is ultimately bogged down by sluggish pacing and shallow character development. 
<i><b>I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. </b></i>

Vibes: Disney's <i>Tangled</i>, but make it ancient MesoAmerican.*
If the book description hadn't specified Meso-American, I'm not sure I could have told you that's where the story was set/inspired by. There is reference to temples and jungles and some mythological elements as well as vague "ancient times" markers, but I expected a bit more. 

Genre:  True YA/New Adult Mythological Fantasy
*Billed as True YA, but could easily be New Adult; characters ages are 18ish, and some are more immature than average and some are wiser. 
*Also very much a "female" book. Male characters *exist,* and serve certain plot functions, but much of the plot is female-driven and about female relationships. 
*Maybe first in a series? Goodreads doesn't indicate it as such, but Amazon does, and with that ending...it better be. 

Romance Meter: 🖤 🖤 ♡ ♡ ♡
There is a romance...or a few, which seem to come out of nowhere and which I wasn't really invested in. 

Character MVP: Meh. No one really stood out -- again, it was hard to connect with/invest in these characters, unfortunately. 

Verdict: I really wanted to love this book -- it was one of my most anticipated reads of the year, but I was ultimately disappointed with it. It had the promise of things I love: a (not matriarchal) but female-driven society, magical realism, and an underexplored setting of ancient Meso-America. 

✔️ -- I was really intrigued by the premise, and the world that Huerta built, with the ancient temples and line of mystical Seers where women seem to hold a fair amount of power. 

✖️ -- That being said, a lot of the conflict / context / worldbuilding wasn't explored or explained -- and primarily, IMHO, for the sake of preserving "the Twist" that occurs about 88% into the book. 
For instance: there's a central conflict at the beginning, where the heir apparent returns to the city, after....leaving? being sent away?...years ago. Why he was sent away, who he was sent to, and why those people (the Fire Warriors) were initially exiled isn't really explained. We get sort-of-answers, eventually, but not to the last question, so it's kinda hard to understand the conflict and see the antagonist *as* an antagonist, because we lack the context of *why* they were exiled. We're just supposed to accept that *something* they did, at *some point* was Really Bad, but without it, it's hard to be invested in the conflict or "root" for the Dreamers as we're clearly meant to. 

✔️ -- I also appreciated the lack of romance, specifically angsty-love-triangles, and the way Huerta shifted the focus from two female protagonists:
--Indir, a Dreamer and temple priestess (of sorts?)
--Saya, also a Dreamer (although not trained) who very much has a Rapunzel situation going on
For me, Saya's chapters were the more engaging and interesting chapters to read -- mainly because the conflict (abusive mother) and story were clearer. Saya's mother has been "protecting" (re: hiding) her, and her arc concerns breaking free of that "protection" and discovering who she is and what her power is. 
Indir's chapters, to me, were largely bogged down with clunky world-building and a much larger cast of characters who were hard to keep track of at first. 

✖️ -- The pacing was also off for me. Summing up what happened in the first 85% of the book is tricky, because I feel like the answer is "not much." The two POVs converge at about 85% in (about 45 pages left) and I was genuinely concerned as to how everything was going to resolve (mainly because I thought it was a stand-alone story). I don't think it is, which makes it a bit better, assuming there's a second book to wrap everything up. 
But, again, I feel like a lot of decisions were made in service of The Twist, which I called so I'm not sure how effective they were. 

I think Huerta was going for a mystical / mythical vibe -- the kind of story that feels ancient-yet-relevant, timely-but-timeless, but it didn't land for me. I was bored for a good deal of the book, and while I think the lack of plot contributed to that, I think it was ultimately because I wasn't connected to or invested in any of the characters. The MCs were fairly flat, and the secondary characters even moreso. I didn't understand the romance between Indir and Ovis, and when other characters died (maybe...? this was also ambiguous. Maybe because I've been conditioned to believe that "if there's no body, they're not really dead.") I was very much like, "meh." I didn't feel sad -- or even certain that they were dead. 

I might pick up the sequel, if only out of a curiosity as to how the story ends, but I could also see Googling a summary.
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The premise of the story sounded intriguing because it focused on a culture that I did not know much about. However, I found the story to be very confusing throughout most of the book. This is probably because the story is told through multiple perspectives. Still, I recommend this for fans of mythology!
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Rating: 2/5 Confusing Dream sequences (dnf ~80%)

Format: e-book/audiobook. I’d like to thank the author and FierceReads for sending me an e-arc of this book to review! I switched to an audiobook format from the library since I’ve been reading faster with audio these days.

To sum up: 
This story centers around two main characters, Indir (a Dreamer) and Saya (a seer). Both abilities allow them to access the dream world and interact with spirits there that can reveal important information about the future. Their world is not kind to Dreamers, however, especially after their king dies and his son wants to bring Dreamers to an end. Things are much safer for Saya since her mother has been exploiting her gift for as long as she can remember. Saya knows that her mother is keeping something about her gift secret but might have to do some exploring on her own to figure it out. 


What I enjoyed: 
I really enjoyed the strong female characters in this story. They are rich and powerful and very capable of driving their own story/plot forward which I appreciate. 

What was meh:
I very quickly got very confused by the worldbuilding. I couldn’t really understand the difference between a Dreamer and a Seer and why society had the opinions about them that they did. This wasn’t helped by the fact that the two main characters are written in a very similar voice so it was often difficult to tell them apart. Adding to that, the plot in the middle of the book was very slow. I really wanted to DNF this around the 50% mark but I hoped that the turning point would help get me more engaged in the story. Either I missed what the turning point was or it wasn’t very significant but still, I tried to push through as far as I could before finally giving up around the 80% mark. Honestly, I don’t think I really absorbed anything after the 60%, I just couldn’t engage with the story or the characters after that point. 

Overall, I thought there was some wasted potential here. I love the premise of a Dreamer/Prophet ability in a society, and I love a world full of strong female characters, but I couldn’t connect with the plot or worldbuilding which often leads to a DNF for me.
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I enjoyed The Lost Dreamer! It was really cool to read a YA fantasy inspired by ancient Mesoamerica. I’ve never read or heard of a YA novel written about it prior to The Lost Dreamer. Lizz Huerta is such a compelling writer and weaves this story about women and family and dreams beautifully. It did take me a second to fully be engrossed in the story, but once I was, it was so wonderful. I’m excited to see more from this author!
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The Lost Dreamer is one of the most unique books I have read and I found it very moving and loved it!
The book being inspired by Mesoamerica is what had me the most excited to read it, especially because it is something we don't see often in YA. 

From the very beginning, it grab's you and takes you on a deeply moving, action packed compelling ride. I felt so deeply for the characters and cried several times, I think it is written in a way that commands deep emotion from anyone who reads it and I found that to be very beautiful. 

My biggest takeaway is that I now have so much more love than I already had for Mesoamerica culture and I hope that people who read this also walk away with a deeper understanding. Lizz Huerta has definitely become an author that I want to read more from.
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I was drawn in by the premise of this book and quickly awed by the lush worldbuilding. The world of this book is so very different from the worlds of other fantasy novels, it was fascinating to learn about the dreamers and the singers and the other types that inhabited it. 
But the story itself was a little disappointing. The beginning was excellent but I felt the plot slowed down quickly, dragging for most of the book and only picking up again right at the end. 
The ending was very well done with a nice twist to bring everything together, but for how long the book I was I was disappointed by where it ended.
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The Lost Dreamer was a creative and beautiful Mesoamerican fantasy novel. Not only is the background of this book positive for school environments, but the inclusion of an entire cast of strong female characters makes this book a must for all school libraries. The story did have some triggers that must be listed before allowing anyone to check it out from a school library, but none that would keep it from being used in a school setting. 

The story jumps back and forth between two young women, Indir and Saya, and the struggles they are dealing with in their lives. Both of these women must face hardships that allow them to learn and grow into who they must be. The author has done a wonderful job keeping both Indir and Saya’s storylines separate while also keeping the reader intrigued on if/how they are connected. This book is a reminder to all that strength comes in many forms.
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I loved the idea of this book, but it just didn’t work for me. The use of dreaming was cool. I liked the premise, but I really struggled to follow the storyline, especially with the alternating viewpoints. Eventually I set it aside and tried the audio when it was released. I did make it through the audio, but even then it felt like the story moved quite slowly and there wasn’t much of a resolution.
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I have been waiting for a YA fantasy based on Mesoamerican mythology all my adult life, to say that I have felt the lack of representation is putting it mildly. Then comes The Lost Dreamer by Lizz Huerta, who creates something of such vivid imagery, delicate beauty, divorced from the constraints of heterosexual patriarchal storytelling.  I cannot wait until the second part of this duology is published, I am in awe of this debut. All the stars.
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Please tell me we’re getting a sequel?! This was a great book! I felt that the world building was fantastic and the storytelling was gripping and so moving. I would love to get a series from this author.
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This book made me cry! I loved the plot and the story. Definitely great to see inclusivity out there in the world along with these wonderful stories that captivate audiences in hopes to represent cultures. The world building was spectacular and the characters were perfect for the story. this is my first time reading something by Liz Huerta. I am so excited to dive into more of her work!
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the lost dreamer was a book that captivated me entirely because of both the beautiful writing style and flair that lizz heurta seems to pump out so effortlessly and because of the story itself. stories that focus on family whether good or bad are right up my ally.
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I am so very glad and overjoyed to have picked up this fantastically magical YA title. "The Lost Dreamer” is a story about coming of age, fear, joy and sisterhood amongst many other things. At the beginning of this novel, we are introduced to three sisters; Delu, Zeri, and main character Indir. They live in a town named Alcanzeh. This story tells the dynamic of the sisters in relationship to Indir and her talent and blessing as a Dreamer. Indir has the special ability and power to visualize and predict the future. Let’s just remember the wise and relevant adage, “With great power comes great responsibility.” 

Indir has certain dreams that prove to be problematic and set up possible dangerous situations for Indir’s family and home.  She has a threatening premonition of a future king and an attempted murder (on herself). Scared out of her mind, Indir runs, which sets in motion a journey that is more important in itself than in its destination, As deep analytical thinkers and critical readers, we can see this idea reflected in Huerta’s writing style as well. Huerta takes her time telling this beautiful story. We are here for the journey and are in it with Indir wherever she may end up. I highly recommend this book and give it a cool five out of five stars. Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read this tremendous book.
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I love that this story is inspired by ancient Mesoamerica. I was truly excited for it since you don't see many books that have this particular setting. Even though the writing is beautiful I couldn't really get into the story which is sad but can happen if a story doesn't grab your attention. There were some sections in the book that made the story drag on. 
Hopefully I get to read more stories from this author in the future since I truly like how descriptive she can be.
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3.75 stars
It took a while to find my footing in this book, but it was worth the wait. Beautiful writing and a magical story. Own Voices. Set in ancient MesoAmerica, a time and setting I'm not familiar with. Will explore more stories in this setting. Didn't love the ending, although I assume we're getting a sequel? If so, then the ending is fine.
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I am 1/4 in and haven’t been hooked yet. Also I don’t know who anyone is and can’t keep the different POVs straight. It is just really confusing and too much info dump so I am unfortunately unable to finish this book.
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The Lost Dreamer

My excitement for this book made me think I would consume this story quickly. Instead, I found myself slowly slipping, tending to the embers creeping and growing, matching the storyline. 

If there was a single word I could use to describe this story, it would be wise. 

Wise in the mirroring of a fictional age of the past with today’s present building chaos. 

Wise in such beautifully scripted examples of true body positivity, consent, respect, non-patriarchal societies, and more. 

Wise diction imprinting on the heart to remind us of our own wisdom within:

“Trust that what is to be yours will be yours. The story we are a part of is much longer than any of us can imagine.”

“None of us survive our stories, sweet child; we just live the best we can, while we can.”

In The Lost Dreamer, Saya and Indir share their separate yet interwoven stories- each experiencing their own form of loss, both part of the gift and answer to saving their world. 

It is through the breaking of negative cultural expectations and opening to ancestral knowledge that the characters are able to develop into who they each need to be. 

I found the writing, and plot to be a challenge and resistance towards Eurocentric story development and overall storytelling. There is no beginning, middle, or end. There is no perfectly calculated happy ending because that is not truth. The story plays out as it needs to and I’m so grateful to experience a shift in how stories are told. 

Some would call this a YA fantasy, but as a Latina with indigenous roots, I call this a YA return to roots. A true must-read for those feeling a calling to inner wisdom and desiring to move away from a conventional fantasy. 

Thank you, NetGalley for this incredible ARC.
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📖Summary: Indir and Saya are both Dreamers, both born from a long line of seers with special gifts. The difference? Indir was born in the city sacred to Dreamers and forced to keep secrets to save her life. Saya is forced to use her secret so that her mother may play it off as her own in the different villages they travel to. How do their stories connect? What is the bigger picture? And what or who is the Lost Dreamer? 
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✨Rating & Review✨: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
I don’t read fantasy often, usually because there’s so much world building, it takes so long to get to the plot. And that’s what happened with this book. I struggled to become engaged with the book and stopped reading for weeks. The story didn’t truly pick up until the last six chapters, which was honestly too long for me to wait. With the cliffhanger that was left as the last chapter, I know there will be more. Will I actually ready the next book though? I’m unsure. 
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The Lost Dreamer is a debut YA fantasy based on ancient Mesoamerican folklore by Lizz Huerta. The eBook version is 384 pages and is told in the first person by alternating dual narrators, Indir and Saya.

Indir is a Dreamer who has grown up in the seclusion of a temple. Dreamers are seers who are able to see beyond reality while asleep. Indir has the rare gift of Dreaming truth, as most other Dreamers dream possibilities. She is called to Dream for the king just before he passes. When the king's son Alcan arrives to ascend to the throne, he does not respect the tradition of the Dreamers and wants to end their line.

Saya speaks to spirits while she dreams, but does not believe herself to be a Dreamer since she was never formally trained. She travels with her mother Celay, who keeps her safe but also exploits her gift while passing it off as her own. They are running from something, but Saya does not know what. But then Saya loses the protection necklace she's worn since birth and learns that she has other gifts and Celay has not been fully truthful with her.

The worldbuilding in this book is pretty cool! It took me until the 25% mark to really get into this, but it's still a pleasant read from start to finish. I guessed some of the twists, but that didn't dull the reveal for me. I'm definitely interested in reading more in this world, though this book can be read as a standalone.

Tropes in this book include: mythology/folklore, chosen family

CW: gaslighting, emotional abuse, animal abuse, death

Special thanks to Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) and NetGalley for providing an eARC of this book for me to review. All opinions contained herein are my own.
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