Cover Image: The Lost Dreamer

The Lost Dreamer

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Expansive, exhilarating, and totally unique The Lost Dreamer is unlike any other YA fantasy that I've read.

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This was a really wonderful fantasy novel that reminded me of Black Sun… not in content, but in the way the world is and the atmosphere it creates. I listened to the book on audio, and really appreciated what each narrator brought to the story. Their voices were perfect in settling me into the world. I will also say it was beneficial to hear how the names and place names are pronounced. I’m a big fan of this audiobook. As far as the story goes, I really enjoyed the magic system and community within the book. There was a storyline involving a villain of sorts, but the conflict sort of faded to the background for me. I think the story was more driven by the characters and how they are affected and come together because of it. I’m hoping there will be a sequel, because I still have so many questions and I want to see how things unfold! But if not, I think this was still a solid standalone. I recommend it!

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The title and that cover draw you in first of all and second Dreamer is exactly what you get. This book was so magical it gave me ghibli studio vibes in some of those dream descriptions. The story really picks up from the beginning, you have no time catch your breath.

The Lost Dreamer was definitely an unfinished puzzle piece for me, we got bits and pieces that kept pushing you forward. Then in the end, we are given a puzzle that wasn’t finished. It ends at a cliff hanger and one that really had me guessing what will happen next!

The writing style was beautifully done and I truely enjoyed the story! I’m excited to see what happens in book 2!

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Excellent start to a Mesoamerica-inspired YA fantasy series about two women with extraordinary gifts, whose fates and stories are intertwined. My rating: 4 of 5 stars.

This is a beautiful, engaging debut. I hadn't realized this was the first in a planned series until I got to the cliffhanger at the end. But that disappointment was truly my only letdown in reading The Lost Dreamer. The writing is beautiful, with evocative descriptions of "The Dreaming," an afterlife/spirit realm that rare and gifted women, called Dreamers, can traverse while asleep. Though Dreamers stand out, there are others with gifts in Huerta's imagined world--Singers who can heal and/or commune with plants and animals through Song; a race of jaguar people who live in the jungle; warriors who manipulate fire.

The story is told through two alternating character perspectives: Indira, a Dreamer living in a temple in the capital city of a kingdom; and Saya, a girl who travels the countryside a cruel mother, who uses the girl's gift of entering the Dreaming to con and manipulate desperate people. Saya's story has come Cinderella vibes, and Indira's got a cute love story to check that box for YA fantasy fans. Throughout much of the book, it's unclear how these two young women's stories are connected, or whether they are even taking place in the same time frame. However, by the last quarter of the book, the stories finally come together in a satisfying twist that gives the readers a few of the answers they crave. The pacing of each storyline is steady and compelling enough to keep the narrative flow going. I will definitely be looking out for the next book in this series!

Many thanks to Macmillan Children's Publishing Group; Farrar, Straus and Giroux; and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

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I really respect this book. I love that it wasn't a typical fantasy world. I think the world was my favorite part. However, I couldn't connect with the characters, and I found that the focus on 'finding a mate' and child birthing was an odd choice for a YA novel.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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Ended up doing the audiobook instead, which was maybe not the best choice? It was a meh audiobook. The worldbuilding here is incredible but the plot is like 5000 pages of setup and then it just ends.

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Pretty well done for a debut. Loved the mythology and jungle setting inspired by ancient mesoamerica. It is great to see Latinx representation and works that encourage readers to get to know and appreciate the culture and history.

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This is, hands down, the best book I have read all year. I fell in love with the characters from the start, and the world building was perfect. I could really immerse myself in the Dreams, and the culture of the Direamers and their lives. I did not anticipate the twist in the middle, and it was joyous and heartbreaking at the same time. Hopefully we get to see part of it 'twist back.'

I will absolutely be buying this book for my middle school library, and I hope it comes out on Playaway so my struggling readers can enjoy it as well.

Perfect, perfect, perfect!!

I will be sharing this review with every book site I frequent.

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There were many things I enjoyed about the Lost Dreamer. From the world building to the characters, and of course the beautiful cover. This was a wonderful debut with fantasy elements and inclusion of the Mesoamerican world

This book is truly unique and the writing is stunning. The magical elements were creative and standout against other fantasy books.

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I think I'm slowing gravitating away from YA fantasy. I'm sure others will love this book; however, it was not for me.

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A tale of two perspectives that might have more in common than first glance suspects. You really get a feel of Mesoamerica throughout the story and the magic is fascinating albeit a little confusing at times. Regardless, a wonderful book.

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A little tough to read at times, but the story was interesting and I didn't expect that ending. Will be keeping my eyes open hoping for a sequel, because I'm invested!

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I am so excited about this book! It is interesting, has beautiful messages and is inclusive from a people who has very little representation in YA lit. I enjoyed this so much and highly recommend it to all libraries!

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DNF - Did not finish. I did not connect with the writing style or plot and will not be finishing this title. Thank you, NetGalley and Publisher for the early copy!

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There’s so much I appreciated about t
the Lost Dreamer: the incredible setting, focusing on indigenous knowledge systems and beliefs, the intricate dreaming sequences and the emotional depth of the characters. However, I found this to be a difficult read overall. I didn’t feel settled in the world-building and struggled to follow how some of the elements worked, especially as the narrative moves between perspectives. The plot moved very slow at the beginning, which I understand has partly to do with the world building, but it didn’t have the pay off it needed in terms of building a strong foundation for the reader.

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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 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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