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Sweet Dreams by Tricia Sullivan. Book Review.

September 20, 2017

Sweet Dreams

London in the near future is a place where Charlie Aaron’s skills are in demand. As a dreamhacker, she is able to enter dreams and reshape them to therapeutically solve her clients’ nightmare issues. But her gift comes at a price. As the result of a medical trial gone badly wrong, Charlie has narcolepsy which means she can fall asleep at the most inconvenient moments.

When an unknown entity appears in one of her clients’ dreams and induces her to sleepwalk off a tall building, Charlie suddenly finds herself in a whole world of trouble.

The plot of Sweet Dreams is as complex as Charlie’s life so you have to pay attention. But what Tricia Sullivan has done is take much of what we are currently immersed in via our tablets and mobile phones and move it in a direction which, considering the rapid development of technology and software, might not be too far-fetched in a few years’ time. AI’s have become palpable, as the victims of Rodney can attest (the AI unicorn, of Charlie’s friend Shandy). Virtual worlds bleed into everyday life. Coders are king.

However, what really makes this story work is more than the plot. The whole novel has a cast of terrific characters, Charlie’s friend Shandy, as rambunctious as her unicorn, O, a cancer ridden coding genius, with a mysterious background and her cognitively challenged sister Daphne, who suffers from dementia and is convinced she is working for the secret service. There are also the two dream detectives and their budget headquarters above a kebab shop.

The glue holding this wacky tale together is Charlie, who is the most fully developed of all the characters. Life has not been kind to her and yet she is still standing and making her way in it. Charlie is adorable and basically does not have a vicious bone in her body, but she has to find her inner strength to go through an ordeal which is nothing to all the misfortunes she has so far suffered. Charlie must find the mysterious entity called ‘The Creeper’ and do battle with it before it continues to kill by making people sleepwalk to their death.

But there are a great many people on her side, particularly her best friend Shandy who, like her unicorn, does not take things lying down. There is also one of the dream detectives, the empathetic Ramon with his unusual back up team. The mysterious O also plays a significant role in Charlie’s life.

As always with one of Tricia Sullivan’s books it is the extent of her imagination and (despite her concepts sometimes being way out there) her ability to draw you into her weird worlds which makes this novel worth reading.

Sweet Dreams was courtesy of Gollancz via NetGalley.

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