About the Book

Title: The Vault of Dreamers (The Vault of Dreamers #1)
Published: 2014
Series: The Vault of Dreamers
Swoonworthy Scale: 3

Cover Story: Eye Turn My Camera On
BFF Charm: Maybe
Talky Talk: The Future Is Now
Bonus Factors: Fine Arts School, Reality TV, Sleep
Relationship Status: Successful First Date

Cover Story: Eye Turn My Camera On

The eye/camera hybrid — because both have lenses, you see — is freaky cool. And I def. think the right call was made by omitting the tagline from the review copy’s cover: “Don’t close your eyes. Don’t fall asleep. Your dreams are not your own.” Don’t be dissuaded. Don’t remove this from your TBR. Its tagline is not its fault!

(OMG I just realized the cover could also serve as a makeshift 360° protractor. Functional!)

The Deal:

For Rosie Sinclair, the Forge School of the Arts is a ticket out of poverty and onto a path of achieving her filmmaking dreams. Just one catch: spots at the elite boarding school depend on the students’ popularity on The Forge Show, which televises every waking moment of their lives. And oh yeah, the students must take nightly pills that give them twelve full hours of creativity-enhancing sleep. But what sinister secret is the school hiding when the students are all asleep? 

BFF Charm: Maybe

BFF charm with a :-| face

An ambitious girl with a kind heart, Rosie’s pretty easy to cheer for. Her characterization flirts with an interesting direction: some of her actions are misconstrued as shrewd schemes. It’d be neat to be inside the mind of a villain who thinks she’s doing the right thing. But no, there’s no deliberate malice; Rosie truly is a good person.

Even though her idealism and selfless saviour streak could both be dialed down for my liking, those aren’t exactly bad flaws for a BFF to have. But I’d just CONSTANTLY stress over the risks that Rosie takes by trying to save everyone else before herself. It’s like those airplane emergency oxygen masks; save yourself first, Rosie! (I, on the other hand, am obviously not burdened with excessive altruism.)

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

Rosie grows close to Linus, a dishwasher for the school’s cafeteria who’s conveniently slightly older (but not skeevily so) and SUPER hot — total mysterious loner kitchen dude. But the constant surveillance from the reality show means that these two are never quite alone, so they (and we) have to settle for chaste, blue bits PDA.

Talky Talk: The Future Is Now

Given what I’ve revealed thus far, it’s totally plausible for the setting to be some distorted version of the present. Except this takes place at least half a century from now, but modern-day companies like Facebook and Youtube are still around. Granted, there aren’t any details on how those entities exist in that world, and those would be decent picks for technology with lasting power. But fifty-plus years in the future? Is our technology really going to be that stagnant? And hover cars still don’t exist? WHAT ARE SCIENTISTS EVEN DOING THEN? 

In terms of the actual writing, I found the plot to be compelling and generally well-paced, although I do wish Rosie’s investigation was better integrated within the story. Rosie does find clues earlier on — in fact, the book starts with her discovering something is amiss — but it still felt like the book changed gears at the three-quarters mark from life on a boarding school reality show to full-blown mystery. Although I do like how the book kept me (and Rosie) questioning everything — like what’s real and what’s not — as well as the setup for the rest of the series.*

And pants for explicitly describing supporting characters in all shapes and sizes! There’s also a great response to Rosie’s (respectful) curiosity about a classmate’s Heather Has Two Mommies sitch. [Edit 2022/09/17: In retrospect, this is supposed to be 50+ years in the future, and having two parents of the same gender is still not normalized? Grim future, y’all.]

*Because OF COURSE IT’S A SERIES, sighhhhh. I was so excited when I thought it was a standalone. (Although after reading it, I’m glad the story doesn’t end where it does.) Congrats to Caragh M. O’Brien, though. 

Bonus Factor: Fine Arts School

Woman leaping in a dance class

Everyone at the Forge School is supremely talented, in specialities like art, dance, music, and even video game development. The school reminds me a little of the So You Think You Can Dance audition rounds, in that even the ‘worst’ students are aces in their own fields.

Bonus Factor: Reality TV

The Forge Show actually comprises of dedicated feeds for each of its students, with the viewership of those channels determining the students’ blip rankings and financial incentives. (So much for high school not being a popularity contest, every inspirational teen magazine!) But unlike most reality shows that isolate drama-prone strangers from the outside world, the Forge students are able to watch each others’ feeds and interact with the viewers. 

Bonus Factor: Sleep

As someone who regularly functions on six hours or less without caffeine, a potent, side effect-free twelve-hour sleeping pill sounds DIVINE.** The sketchy nature behind its purpose at the Forge School, however — not so much. And anyone who’s ever pulled an all-nighter knows that sleep and creativity don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

Relationship Status: Successful First Date

I was slow to warm up to this book, but I had a great time once I did. The few hiccups from our date haven’t deterred me from going out with it again, so I’ll definitely take it up on its offer for a second date.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Roaring Brook Press. I received neither money nor froyo for writing this review (dammit!). The Vault of Dreamers is available now.

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she’s been overseeing all things FYA Book Club since 2013.