Anissa Robson is becoming an adult in a society she never really identified with. Forced to choose her career path, she becomes an apprentice to a young, headstrong politician who seems to stand for everything she disagrees with. The dreams she has refused to report grow more alluring to her as she becomes disillusioned with her job. But the lines between reality and her dreamland begin to blur and cross over, launching her onto a path she would never have chosen for herself. Is the government medicating dreamers to protect them? Or to hide something from them?
The Traveler is a difficult story to classify–in a good way. E.B. Dawson cleverly plays with reader expectations as the book unfolds. We meet our protagonist, Anissa, in a joyless, bureaucratic world of politics and secrets. The near-future tech-driven setting gives the impression that this is going to be a dystopian sci-fi novel, but as Anissa's dreams of a different world become more and more vivid, the supernatural elements take the book in a different direction. The plot continues to take on more unexpected twists leading up to a dramatic and thrilling conclusion.
I'm going to keep things vague here because I really don't want to spoil any of the plot points. Things like the nature of Anissa's dreams and the finer details of the setting should be discovered as you read for maximum enjoyment. Dawson draws on her rich life experience to create a deep and fascinating world that quickly draws the reader in. Her characters are all distinct and interesting. The political machinations driving the book's main conflict are clever and gripping. And while the book ends with some questions answered, a larger puzzle is teased which leaves the reader eager to go on to the next book. Which, of course, is not out yet. Oh, the cruelty. Write faster, Ms. Dawson!
Content advisory: Some violence and peril, but nothing really unsuitable for kids. Teens and adults will be better able to appreciate the nuances of the plot, but judged solely on content, this one is perfectly acceptable for younger readers.
I look forward to seeing where this series goes next. It's a brilliant addition to the speculative genre, and it's well worth adding to your reading list. 5/5 stars.
Get your own copy of The Traveler on September 15!