Reverie Book Review
I started Reverie by Ryan La Sala because it was promisingly described as the The Magicians meets Inception. I will admit, I prefer The Magicians to Inception which was confusing. Reverie is less confusing, with the characters able to quite easily tell the difference between a reverie or daydream come to life and reality. The lines are certainly blurred however by the danger of reveries, in which the characters can die in real life. The story starts with Kane Montgomery, a gay teenage protagonist which amnesia. He can’t remember how he ended up crashing into the mill, a historic landmark in the town. All he knows it that he woke up in the hospital with burns on his heard after the police found him passed out in the river. But three of his classmates seem to know the answers to gap in his memories. They end up pulled into reveries, of a underground temple, a Victorian romance novel, and a dystopian city. Kane learns that he is the one with the ability to unravel the reveries.
Reverie started strong with the sort of amnesia plot that always leads to suspense. However, Kane was resistant to relearning how to unravel reveries. He was also unwilling to listen to his three classmates, dubbed, “The Others”. I understand that having amnesia puts you in a vunerable position and made it difficult to trust people. But I would have been willing to suspend my disbelieve in order to let the plot flow more quickly. Because of this, I found Kane to be an annoying and unsympathetic character. This made it a challenge for me to connect with the story.
Spoilers below the cut:
In addition, the plot was fairly predictable once Kane starts to figure out what is actually going on, rather than the lies that were invented after his amnesia. I knew pretty early on the Poesy was a suspicious character and probably the villain of the story. Also, as a drag queen she was a very typical queercoded villian. The one upside of that was that most of the characters in the story were LGBTQ+, so of course the villain would be LGBTQ+ as well. And she actually does serve a character foil to Kane, who feels like he can relate to her because they are both queer in a town that seems to be very straight (although it isn’t). Also, Kane suspects that his love interest, Dean, is actually the dreadmare, a henchcreature of Poesys. This is unsurprisingly confirmed to be true. I feel like La Sala could have easily had Kane discover this as a surprise rather than on purpose and it would have been more entertaining.
Ultimatey, La Sala did come up with an intriquing premise. Although, reveries are fairly similar to the dreams in Inception, making them daydreams instead of regular dreams made them unique. I will say I thought the plot was very different from The Magicians. I suppose the comparision came from the protagonist being a queer male nerd who uses the fantasy worlds in books to escape, and that there is a character named Eliot. This Magicians comparision must have also been based off the tv show, since Quentin is straight in the books.
One thing that did make Reverie better than Inception and The Magicians was its unapologetic queerness. The Magicians featured LGBTQ+ characters only to bury them, whereas in Reverie gave them a happy ending. Also, queerness turns out to be main theme in Reverie with Kane feeling like the only gay kid at his school and being manipulated by a queer villain that he feels he can relate to. To later finding put that he can shoot rainbows out of his hands, and that learning that there a lot more queer people in his town and at his school than he thought. It’s even a running joke between Kane and his sister to say, “That’s so gay. Just gay enough to work!” Reverie was just gay enough to work. I only wish that the book did not depend so much on its ability to be tokenized, and leaned more on forming an engaging plot and characters.