Book Review: I Dreamt of Trees

review-cover-i dreamt of treesTitle: I Dreamt of Trees

Author: Gilles DeCruyenaere

Genre: Science Fiction

Rating: 1 Star

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Description/Synopsis:

Flasher-in-training Jason Crawford has dedicated his life to fighting the mysterious alien race which threatens the massive city-ship he calls home. A few days before his first mission, however, Jason discovers a terrible secret which could mean an end to his way of life forever. Fearing government reprisal for this new-found knowledge, Jason takes refuge in the Rim, a walled-off section of the ship where citizens are left to fend for themselves while the government ruthlessly plunders its resources.

While there, Jason forms an uneasy alliance with fellow exile Greg. Though they share the same goal of exposing the government’s terrible secret, their relationship is strained; Jason is selfish, profane and morally ambiguous, while Greg is generous, kind and liberal-minded.

Will Jason and Greg manage to achieve their goals despite their ideological differences? Will Jason ever escape the Rim, and if so, can he hope to regain anything even resembling the life of entitlement to which he was accustomed?

“I Dreamt of Trees” is a story of struggle and survival in a dystopian society built on fear and greed. Though you may be tempted to judge the characters, be certain of one thing: On the USS McAdam, no one is quite as good, nor quite as bad as they seem.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I very regretfully had to give this book a 1 star rating. It’s my policy to give the dreaded 1-star rating to any book I don’t finish reading, and despite the spectacular writing (we’ll get more into that in a minute), I couldn’t finish this book.

Technically speaking, the book was exceedingly well written. I was drawn into the story right away. The plot was intriguing, and the world building was detailed and engaging. There weren’t a lot of typos, awkward sentences structures, or pacing problems. Honestly, at first, I really liked the story.

Unfortunately, not all was rainbows and puppies. I wasn’t partial to any of the characters from the outset. It’s not that there was anything particularly wrong with them.. I just didn’t feel an affinity for any of them. Usually one of the biggest parts of character development in a book is making sure your main character is likeable, or at the very least, your audience can sympathize with them… and I didn’t (with the exception of the temporary character who’s POV took up the first chapter—him I liked.)

As I got deeper into the story (and I got about half way before I gave up), the cast of characters I was presented with seemed shallow, arrogant, and well.. downright rude.  There was a lot of of foul language, and though that didn’t bother me overly much (I am an adult after all), the pervasive amount of homophobic catcalls and slurs did bother me. If it had been one character who repeatedly called another names, I don’t think it would have bothered me as much. I could have written the character off as a jerk and attributed the comments to who they were as a person… but it wasn’t just one character. Several characters used homophobic language—and it was uncomfortable to continue reading. It didn’t feel like the language was character-driven, and I don’t believe it was needed to portray the type of people the characters were.

After the first dozen or so homophobic comments by the characters, my tolerance for the book was already wearing thin when the book tread into even further uncomfortable territory. A very young girl in the story was being trained for … well, I guess it amounts to a type of glorified prostitution. She would be inducted into this service at the tender age of 14. I cringed a bit, but I tried to set my mom-sirens on hold (I have a pre-teen daughter myself) so that I could attribute this very sad character to the world building… but there came a point when the main character and his friends were sitting around discussing the lewd future of this girl (who was a younger sister), when I just couldn’t take anymore.

This book wasn’t for me. As I’ve said, the writing was excellent, the story was interesting and engaging… but I didn’t want to read it. I don’t think I’m the right audience for it. If you enjoy Science Fiction and you have a strong tolerance for unsavory world building, you may really like this book—and I would certainly recommend you give it a try. This was not a sub-par book by any means… it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

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