The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O’Brien
Release Date: September 16th, 2014
Roaring Book Press, 432 Pages
Source: eARC via Netgalley (Thanks!)
Sub-genre: Science Fiction
Age Group: Young Adult
The Forge School is the most prestigious arts school in the country. The secret to its success: every moment of the students’ lives is televised as part of the insanely popular Forge Show, and the students’ schedule includes twelve hours of induced sleep meant to enhance creativity. But when first year student Rosie Sinclair skips her sleeping pill, she discovers there is something off about Forge. In fact, she suspects that there are sinister things going on deep below the reaches of the cameras in the school. What’s worse is, she starts to notice that the edges of her consciousness do not feel quite right. And soon, she unearths the ghastly secret that the Forge School is hiding—and what it truly means to dream there.
The premise of The Vault of Dreamers is something unique that I haven’t come across before. I enjoyed getting to know the futuristic ins & outs of The Forge School. Most of us have never been on a reality show, so it is a little jarring to realize how little privacy you would have as a “contestant” or a student at Forge. Considering the the cameras are basically rolling 24-7, the only privacy you have is when you are changing clothes or using the bathroom. I am pretty sure I would have enough of it after a day or so. However, in O’Brien’s world, that is exactly what these students experience. Every second, every emotion, every interaction, everything…caught on camera and streamed, live to the nation.
Although it is a privilege to get admitted to this prestigious art institute, it comes with a price. Privacy is gone, but you aren’t guaranteed to stay either. The first 100 are cut down to 50 according to rankings which are influenced by the viewers and their preferences.
Our protagonist, Rosie, barely makes the cut thanks to some unlikely help. She meets a boy who works in the Forge School kitchen and quickly figures out that being in a relationship on live television isn’t exactly simple.
Rosie is attending the art school to hone her stills as a filmmaker, but she realizes that something is off about the Dean of the school and what happens at night. The students are required to sleep 12 hours (to help those creative minds!), however, Rosie isn’t a fan of the sleeping pills they are forced to take. She wants to know what happens when everyone else is sleeping. She gets more than she bargained for…
With some help from her new boyfriend, Linus, and a friendly classmate, Rosie makes it her goal to find out and expose what kinds of corruption is going on at The Forge School.
I thought this book was really well-written and the storyline flowed in a way that created intense and suspenseful moments. There were times I caught myself holding my breath and couldn’t sit still towards the end! I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves psychological thrillers, reality TV, and a bit of sci-fi. I’m excited to see what is in store next for Rosie and the rest of The Forge School!