The Dreamers
by Karen Thompson Walker

Overview - An ordinary town is transformed by a mysterious illness that triggers perpetual sleep in this mesmerizing novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Age of Miracles .

"This book is stunning."--Emily St.

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More About The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
An ordinary town is transformed by a mysterious illness that triggers perpetual sleep in this mesmerizing novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Age of Miracles.

"This book is stunning."--Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven

Named one of the most anticipated books of 2019 by Vogue, Huffpost, Real Simple, PopSugar, Literary Hub, BuzzFeed, Bustle and Vulture.

One night in an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a first-year student stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep--and doesn't wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. When a second girl falls asleep, and then a third, Mei finds herself thrust together with an eccentric classmate as panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. A young couple tries to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. Two sisters turn to each other for comfort as their survivalist father prepares for disaster.

Those affected by the illness, doctors discover, are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, higher than has ever been recorded before. They are dreaming heightened dreams--but of what?

Written in luminous prose, The Dreamers is a breathtaking and beautiful novel, startling and provocative, about the possibilities contained within a human life--if only we are awakened to them.

Praise for The Dreamers

"Walker's roving fictive eye by turns probes characters' innermost feelings and zooms out to coolly parse topics like reality versus delusion. . . . It has] the perfect ambiguous frame for a tense and layered plot."--O: The Oprah Magazine

" Walker's] gripping, provocative novel should come with a warning: may cause insomnia."--People (Book of the Week)

"2019's first must-read novel . . . Alternately terrifying and moving . . . The Dreamers is overflowing with humanity."--Jezebel

"The Dreamers is a startling, beautiful portrait of a community in peril. . . . This is an exquisite work of intimacy. Walker's sentences are smooth, emotionally arresting--of a true, ethereal beauty. . . . This book achieves a] dazzling, aching humanity."--Entertainment Weekly

  • ISBN-13: 9780812994162
  • ISBN-10: 0812994167
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Publish Date: January 2019
  • Page Count: 320
  • Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.19 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Family Life - General
Books > Fiction > Dystopian

BookPage Reviews

The Dreamers

For genre geeks such as myself, one of the most exciting developments in 21st-century fiction is the embrace of sci-fi, fantasy and horror by so-called “literary” authors. Karen Thompson Walker epitomized this elevating trend in her first genre-bending debut novel, The Age of Miracles (2012). Walker takes on the horror genre with The Dreamers, the tale of an inexplicable sleeping sickness that consumes an entire college town, beginning with a freshman dorm.

Soon after the first student is stricken, several of her classmates also fall prey to the plague, including a young woman whose social awkwardness takes on fatal significance, and another who has just had sex for the first time and is now pregnant. The development of new life in her womb becomes a crucial theme throughout the novel, an affirmation of vitality in stark contrast to the mother’s dreadful slumber.

As the disease spreads beyond campus, panic rises. The panorama of these afflictions exposes a range of memorable characters. There are no heroes. In fact, the foolishness of “heroism” is diagnosed with devastating impact. There are many different ways that Walker’s victims succumb to the mysterious sleep, while others attempt to cope with their loved ones’ collapse. Worst of all, some sleepers come out of their uncanny dream state permanently unhinged. In every case, a basic principle of human nature unfolds: A person realizes their truest self when confronted with a crisis of mortality.

The Dreamers does more than satisfy both the horror geek and the literary nerd. With clinical precision and psychological depth, Walker delivers a vivid embodiment of our ongoing national anxiety.


This article was originally published in the January 2019 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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