Life Is But a Dream by Brian James

Life Is But a Dream by Brian James

Release Date: March 27, 2012
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Rated: YA 14+
Format: eGalley
Source: NetGalley
Buy: AmazonThe Book Depository

Sabrina, an artist, is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and her parents check her into the Wellness Center. There she meets Alec, who is convinced it's the world that's crazy, not the two of them. They are meant to be together; they are special. But when Alec starts to convince Sabrina that her treatment will wipe out everything that makes her creative, she worries that she'll lose hold of her dreams and herself. Should she listen to her doctor? her decision may have fatal consequences.

I have a confession: I tend to judge books by their cover. Which is what made me request this eGalley. Never mind what the book was about but the cover. That magical, eerie, yet beautiful cover which caught my eye. No hesitations on clicking the request button. It was only after I looked at the cover that I read the blurb. Of course, this only made me want it more. I got approved. I had to wait a while to read it. When I started, and guess what? I just couldn't stop.
Just like the cover, Life Is But a Dream is magically enticing, hauntingly beautiful and one of those contemporaries which make you feel. Make you clutch onto your very existence, unsure of what's to happen next. Becoming a teen opened up the word to a different kind of contemporary novels, and I'm glad that this one was there, because it is one story that will stay with me no matter how much more I ever read.

Sabrina's perception has completely distorted. The spine-tingling descriptions of her take on the world around her, had me in goose-bumps, but the writing is absolutely stunning. What Alec says about Sabrina at one part is totally right: 

You get to see past all the things that are fake and ugly. The problem is that most people look at the world and see a bunch of strip malls. You actually see something worth seeing and they don't think that's fair.

In some weird way, if you think about it, Sabrina's world is really much better than our own. I really liked her character for that. She's not afraid to be different, and she really does (philosophically) question: what exactly IS normal?

Alec's character was a roller-coaster ride for me. I liked him at the beginning, but then as Sabrina's relationship develops with him, I started hating him, and then before you know it, I liked him again! I guess I just like the fact that he, like Sabrina, sees the truth in life around them, how 'mechanical' the world is, and that everyone's just following a routine.

It wasn't too long a book, which was perfect, because just the right amount of plot went into it, and along with it, gorgeous descriptions. James' writing flowed and I can't think of one flaw in this book. The building up of tension and anxiety in Sabrina was brilliant, I must say. Best parts of the story. I also really loved how the story goes back and forth between memories and the present, as well as some personal thoughts from Sabrina thrown in there. Allowed the story to sit back for a while, whilst it progressed.
Thinking about the title as well, it's a very "ghostly" line– Life is but a dream... – the last line of the song "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" has a haunting chill to it. *shivers*

Life Is But a Dream is everything you could imagine it to be. Emotional, heart-breaking and evocative, Brian James explores the different and difficult, and crafts a masterpiece. 

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  1. First impression counts. I, too, look at the covers first then the blurb. I can see why you requested for this book. It goes into my TBR list now. Thanks for sharing your wonderful review.

  2. Sounds awesome, and yes, that cover is enchanting!!

    But we hope the author tackled the subject of mental health in a responsible way... We've known people who have mental disorders, and just calling them "misunderstood" isn't sufficient. For them or anyone. Guess we'll have to read the book to find out. ;P

  3. I love the cover. The book itself just captivates me with the blurb. I feel like medications do messed with the creative sections of a person but at the same time, they are necessary. I think Alec has a point. People with disorder do see the world different and society doesn't like that so society locks up the individuals who threaten the social view of the world.

    I'm so adding this book to my TBR list.

  4. I agree with you totally on the cover. I joined Netgalley this month and read a great contemporary novel titled Rape Girl. Netgalley is a great way to get your hands on books you otherwise would wait months for. Sabrina sounds like a wonderful creative and Alec a tempting roller coaster. You did a really good job reviewing this. Adding it to my goodreads TBR Contemporary list.


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