Book Review: ‘The Vault of Dreamers’ by Caragh M. O’Brien

Written by Sara Jablow

Social media has gradually become a staple in people’s daily lives. What if the technology behind social media gets taken to the next level? The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien explores this unfounded territory.

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The book begins by throwing the reader into the middle of what can only be described as a reality show competition taking place at a fancy school called Forge School of Arts. Each student has a personal cameraman filming every part of their day. The footage is used as a social feed on a website for the “Forge Show.” Students compete to have the most popular feed for various rewards. The Vault of Dreamers tells the story of Rosie Sinclair’s standing at the school before and after she unveils a mystery regarding the school’s corrupt practices. Essentially, the book can best be described as a combination of American Idol, Gossip Girl, and The Hunger Games.

The Vault of Dreamers has the ingredients for a typical young adult novel: a young heroine who does not feel special (but you later find out is), young unconditional love, the potential for a love triangle, and a mystery that only the heroine solves. What makes the book different than the others is that unlike the currently popular trilogies, such as The Hunger Games or Divergent, The Vault of Dreamers was well written. While reading, I actually stopped myself to admire the more eloquent language. For example, this is how O’Brien describes Rosie’s feelings upon awakening, “A trace of dream clung to me as I surfaced into Tuesday morning, a shadow twin who stretched out from my feet, farther and farther ahead of me along the railroad tracks, until she detached and slipped away.” In my opinion, the author shows a much higher level of thinking by creating this intricate sentence instead of simply stating “Rosie woke up,” which tends to be the norm in young adult books.

In addition to the quality writing, I found the plot line to be refreshing. Events don’t follow the same format as what would typically be anticipated, like the girl and the guy don’t kiss at the end and it’s happily ever after from there. My only complaint is that the majority of the book is spent solving the mystery, which is outside of the everyday moments at the Forge School. The setting that O’Brien painstakingly described in the beginning had the potential to be explored further. I would have liked to see the daily interactions of the characters be delved into a bit more considering their popularity is a publicly-aware, measured factor of success.

The novel provided a more realistic, well-written approach to the dystopian genre by including potential societal trends that could happen in the not too distant future. If you are in the market for a quick read with a refreshing plot, The Vault of Dreamers is definitely worth picking up.

The Vault of Dreamers is available in hardcover and on Kindle.

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