In Rooks’ psychological thriller, a Seattle journalist struggling with apparent narcolepsy and vivid dreams realizes there may be more to her subconscious than she knows.
Bailey lives in two worlds: her “real” life as a busy reporter for an urban newspaper, fighting deadlines for her intense yet charismatic editor, Sierra, and her “dream” life as a victim-rescuing heroine. Bailey struggles with an enigmatic sleep disorder. When she falls asleep, she imagines herself in a hotel room in Hong Kong with a benevolent task force of secret agents: Daniel, a bad-boy Australian; Sam, a fashionable translator; and Halene, a young Southern logician. The team is deeply flawed, and in their effort to save a girl named Mei from her Mafia family, Bailey tries to deny the affections of both Daniel and Sam, who constantly vie for her attention. The drawn-out arguments and soapy romance become tedious, but Rooks’ central question intrigues: If you divide your time equally between a delirious reality and a crystal-clear dream life, don’t they become equally authentic? Bailey starts to see parallels in each existence. For example, she hears the same reference to a Chinese don; she indulges in two similar drinking binges; and her best friend, Jason, starts referring to Daniel and Sam as credible love interests, even though he assumes they are imaginary. The final twist requires a lot of exposition, but it adds a metaphysical layer to an already clever storyline. Rooks organizes her story well, ensuring that the reader is never confused, and she describes details and emotions that such thrillers often gloss over. In the end, Bailey is passive and naïve but also intelligent and strong, and she bears a bigger burden than she realizes. While she doesn’t do much in the novel—she’s wounded by a shooter, pursued by men and told difficult secrets—Bailey has been primed for an inevitable sequel.
A provocative fusion of suspense and sci-fi; as the mystery unravels, the reader learns that dreams may be as vital as reality.