The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien
ISBN 10: 1596439386
ISBN 13: 9781596439382
Publication date: 16 Sept 2014 by Roaring Brook Press
Category: Young Adult Science Fiction
Keywords: SciFi, Reality Show, Privacy, Dreaming
Format: Hardcover, ebook
Source: ARC from Publisher
For students at The Forge School, every day is more than just a popularity contest. It's the most prestigious arts school in the country, true, but it's also the set of The Forge Show, a reality television series. Students attending Forge give up all of their privacy, except for the half day that they sleep, in exchange for 3 years of first-class creative education and revenue from ad sales, which they can later use to fund college studies.
For Rosie Sinclair, it's the chance to escape a life of poverty and obscurity. Just one problem: she's not very popular, and just before half of the sophomore class gets cut, she skips her sleeping pill so she can watch the rain fall on the dorm at night. Might as well make some good memories before she has to go back to the disused railway car her family calls home.
Except she doesn't get "voted off the island". A series of circumstances results in her blip rank rising high enough to stay. She gets to know a few of the kids in her classes, as well as a kitchen worker, Linus Pitts. But she also discovers that at Forge, not all of what you see is what you get... and there are eyes watching everywhere.
I didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. The conclusion doesn't quite satisfy the outlandish premise, but I did find the journey there gripping and hard to put down. I liked Rosie, thought I felt frustration rising as she tried to unravel the mystery surrounding the school: with so much at stake, why jeopardize her position? And yet, I kept rooting for her through all of her obviously bad decisions, because somehow I felt that doing the wrong thing was really the right thing to do.
This novel raises some great discussion questions:
- How far would you go to make money and improve your prospects for success?
- How important is privacy to you? Are there instances in which you would give up your right to privacy? How is our privacy invaded on a daily basis, and what makes it ok/not ok?
- What are dreams? How does the novel play with the different meanings of the word?
- When Rosie makes decisions, is she influenced by their potential effect on her blip rank? If she is, is that wrong? Or is she just playing the game as it's supposed to be played?
- What is the purpose of reality television? Think about this from several angles: as a subject on the show, as a producer, or as an audience member.
This book caused me at least one sleepless night. The secretiveness of the school's staff, the cinematic pace of the action, and the near-plausibility of the setup will tingle many a reader's spine.
I received this book for free from Macmillan for review purposes.