Review: Reverie by Ryan La Sala

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Title: Reverie

Author: Ryan La Sala

Publication Date: December 3rd, 2019

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQ

Age Range: YA

Never expect a world designed for someone else to show you mercy.

Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the ARC. All opinions expressed are my own.

All Kane Montgomery knows for certain is that the police found him half-dead in the river. He can’t remember how he got there, what happened after, and why his life seems so different now. And it’s not just Kane who’s different, the world feels off, reality itself seems different.

As Kane pieces together clues, three almost-strangers claim to be his friends and the only people who can truly tell him what’s going on. But as he and the others are dragged into unimaginable worlds that materialize out of nowhere—the gym warps into a subterranean temple, a historical home nearby blooms into a Victorian romance rife with scandal and sorcery—Kane realizes that nothing in his life is an accident. And when a sinister force threatens to alter reality for good, they will have to do everything they can to stop it before it unravels everything they know.

Let me start out by saying that I generally don’t like amnesia plot lines, and I probably should have taken that into account before starting this book, but the premise sounded interesting enough that I decided to take a chance. That being said, this book wasn’t bad, per se, it just wasn’t my cup of tea from the start.

Marketed as Inception meets The Magicians, Reverie starts out with Kane Montgomery trying to solve the mystery that is his own mind. Along the way, he meets several people who say they are trying to help them, including a drag queen sorceress who poses as a psychoanalyst. They set off to find the catalyst of Kane’s accident and the reason why he’s suffering from memory loss before irreversible damage to reality can be done, facing dangerous obstacles and conflict within the group along the way.

Pros: I felt like the relationship between Kane and everybody else in Reverie was a good commentary on trust in a world where simply being true to yourself can put you in danger. Kane struggles with his automatic suspicion of everyone around him, a personality trait that’s exacerbated by his memory loss and the reason behind it. Who can we trust, and how much can we trust them with without making ourselves too vulnerable?

While the storyline and concepts felt familiar to me, I could still see a lot of creativity in Reverie. There’s a lot of power in knowing about someone’s dreams, and even more in living in them, with the ability to influence the desired ending. And, yenno, with great power comes great responsibility, but also a question of morality. A recurring theme throughout the book is the power of manipulation in regards to perception and memory, and the lines people can cross when they think they’re doing the right thing.

Cons: I love a good found family, band of misfits trope as much as the next reader, but I was admittedly let down by the group dynamic in Reverie. Maybe it was Kane’s own suspicions getting to me, but something about the narration made it difficult for me to even like any of the characters. Aside from their roles in helping Kane unravel his past (one they are all a part of), Ursula, Elliott, and Adeline are barely given any on-page development. For the majority of the book, the main defining trait for all of them is that they’re keeping a Big Secret from Kane. I was interested in all three of these characters when they were first introduced, but when it was revealed that all of their potential intrigue was because of their past relationships with Kane, I was disappointed. I was hoping for more individual characterization and didn’t get that with Reverie. Without that connection and investment in the characters, I found myself skimming the book more often than not.

I was looking for an explanation all throughout Reverie, but when I was done with the book, I was left with more questions than answers. Part of this may be my own fault, for expecting Reverie to be something it wasn’t. I think there’s a powerful message hidden within, about our desire to escape from reality and why that has the potential to be dangerous, but it’s buried and requires some work from the reader to dig it out.

I saw a lot of potential in Reverie, from the origins of Kane and co.’s powers to the concept of a reverie itself. I think Ryan La Sala developed something interesting with the theory that people’s power can come from the parts of themselves that they hate, and what that implies about human nature. The reveries were also a new twist on the question of what happens when your dreams come to life, and there’s so much to work with there to build a really unique world. Unfortunately, I felt like Reverie was a little too rushed and relied on pretty common storylines to move itself along, so while these concepts were promising, the story as a whole fell a bit flat for me. While Reverie wasn’t meant for me, the messages that I could see are vitally important, and I know it’ll resonate with other readers out there.

Links for Reverie
(Out December 3rd, 2019)

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Book Depository | Indie Bound

Add it on Goodreads!

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