Most bookworms keep a mental list of books they want to read. And it's not just a general 'To be read' list. No. There is a hierarchy within this list. It looks like this: Books I should probably read at some point
Books I want to read when I get a chance
Books I really, really want to read right now at this very moment
The Traveler by E.B. Dawson fell into the last category for me. E.B. Dawson is one of my absolute favorite indie authors. I've read and adored the first two books in her Creation of Jack series (which you should read. Now. Right now). She's had a book out for a while now: The Traveler that I was only one book away from reading when I heard grand news: She was planning to re-launch this book. New cover, new marketing, new edits.
So I sat and
patiently waited for the re-launch date: September 15th, 2017.
My not-so-patient waiting was rewarded. The Traveler is awesome.
Anissa Robson has never felt at home in her society. It exists within a very rigid system where everything is orderly and, in Anissa's eyes, lifeless. As she is forced into an apprenticeship under a seemingly cynical and crooked politician, she becomes more and more interested in a single aspect of her life: Her dreams. She withdraws into them. Into a world where she finally feels at home.
But soon this dreamworld - Angapo - begins to seep into her reality, and her reality threatens to crush Angapo. Anissa finds herself uncovering a carefully concealed lie:
Angapo is real. And the government has been medicating dreamers to stop travels to this world...and to hide an ugly secret.
This book is very different from the The Creation of Jack books, though with some similarities. Dawson's excellent writing style and world-building is put on display in The Traveler, as is her propensity for delving into difficult themes in a clever and thoughtful way.
I fell in love with Anissa's character by the first chapter. Her arc is a very well-executed one: She starts out as a lost person who feels out of place and without purpose or hope, then evolves into somebody who has a purpose thrust onto her (save Angapo), but isn't quite sure how to handle it. She is simultaneously confused and terrified, yet determined to do what is right.
This heroine was a refreshing one in that she doesn't know exactly who she is or what she stands for. She's just figuring things out. She's not insanely courageous or incredibly skilled, nor is she sure of herself or her beliefs. But she has a good heart, and that's what makes her so compelling.
On the other hand is Carson, the politician that Anissa finds herself apprenticed to. He is calculating and works out of self-interest...but may not be what he seems. His personality acts as a great foil to Anissa's, leading to some very good dialogue and character dynamics.
Dawson's writing style was gorgeous: Her descriptions of the sterile city versus the personal Angapo really drew me into the world. And, oddly enough, so did the handling of the politics. Many novels have boring, somewhat extraneous political world-building that is difficult to follow. The politics in The Traveler was the exact opposite: It added intrigue to the storyline and depth to the world. Color me impressed.
As much as I enjoyed the world-building and writing style, I did have some issues with the pacing of this story. There were certain aspects (minor characters, Anissa's diplomatic missions) that were glossed over. Some parts seemed a bit rushed near the end. However, as this book is the first installment in a series, I'm sure that any parts or characters that seemed underdeveloped will be fleshed out more later on.
That being said, any parts that may have felt a bit loose was nicely wrapped up and held together by the great messages in the story. A recurring and beautifully done theme in this book was that of seeking truth and finding where you belong. Throughout the novel Anissa wrestles with what she believes and where she fits into this crazy, upside-down life she's been thrust into. Her struggle is handled is a careful, thought-provoking way that I really appreciated.
The Traveler is another win in a series of amazing publications by E.B. Dawson. If you like good, entertaining books with thoughtful themes and great characters, this one is for you.
Have you read anything by E.B. Dawson? Leave a comment below with the title of your favorite book by her! If you aren't familiar with any of her work, you have a lot of reading to do.