RYAR Review: THE VAULT OF DREAMERS by Caragh M. O’Brien

Previously published on


Published by Roaring Brook Press on September 16, 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Science Fiction
Provided by: Publisher
Rating: 5 stars


This book was provided in exchange for an honest review.


From the author of the Birthmarked trilogy comes a fast-paced, psychologically thrilling novel about what happens when your dreams are not your own.

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.


Caragh M. O’Brien’s THE VAULT OF DREAMERS is an exciting and refreshingly different story that combines some of the very best elements of dystopia and science fiction. It has a futuristic setting that takes place within the confines of an arts school in which its students’ lives are broadcast on a TV program known as the Forge Show. It provides a backdrop in the form of a contest that pits students against one another for the chance to remain at the school. It introduces “leaders” whose actions are at best suspect and at worst sinister. It explores scientific concepts such as inducing sleep to promote creativity and mining for and harvesting dreams.

This story was such an unexpected and incredibly awesome surprise and was not at all what I expected when I first heard about it, or even after I started reading it. What on first glance appeared to be a typical dystopian, with a smart, inquisitive main character who was sure to beat the odds, clash with the higher ups and fall for one of the two potential love interests, turned out to be something quite different.

It was gripping, suspenseful and most of all chilling. The “Big Brother” element added tension throughout. It had mystery, conflict and romance. The secrets were darker than I had imagined they would be. The goings-on were more disturbing. And the ending was so shocking it completely blew my mind.

I had not realized this was the first in a series until after I’d read this book. The promise of something more potentially makes the ending slightly less of a shocker, but after having re-read it knowing there was more to come, it was still jaw-dropping.

Had I kept certain things in mind – like the book’s title and its description – throughout the read, I might have put a few pieces of the puzzle together and not been completely blindsided by that ending. But I got so caught up in what was going on with Rosie Sinclair, that I didn’t even think to look ahead.

THE VAULT OF DREAMERS is full of twists and turns, shocks and surprises. It’s peppered with moments that will stun. The tension and suspense make for an enthralling and nerve-racking read. And its strong and likable main character will have readers rooting for her until the very end. While it doesn’t dive too deeply into the science and technology behind what is happening, it gives readers a lot to think about, to imagine, to be horrified by. It is a fascinating story and total mind-bender.

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