May 19, 2014

The Anatomy of Dreams by Chloe Benjamin

The Anatomy of Dreams follows Sylvie and Gabe as they go from boarding school together to working in a sleep lab at the University of Wisconsin- Madison, for their old professor, Dr. Keller.  They are working on experiments with stages of consciousness in the lab so secretive they can't even tell anyone about them. Sylvie isn't even sure if they are ethical. They get entangled with their neighbors in relationships that become increasingly intricate and dangerous.  Soon Sylvie finds herself rebelling as the lines between what is real and what isn't become hazy.

I really REALLY wanted to like this book but it just couldn't hold my attention.  It was too slow and the alternate chapters bouncing from the past to the present didn't work in this book for me.  To me, alternating narrators or alternating between the past and the present has to be done just right or I don't like it.  

I also felt like while Benjamin delves into the psyche and explores lots of questions there, that it just seemed almost separate somehow from the rest of the story.  My favorite characters were the neighbors- they had so much more character and life to them than Sylvie or Gabe.  And I felt like each piece of the story was a fragment and that there wasn't much holding it all together.  I don't know, the story just fell flat for me.

Has anyone else read this yet?  I would love some other perspectives on it.

Neighbor Thom talking to Sylvie:
"It's different," he said. "Poets question mysteries: they observe, they stand witness but they don't necessarily try to solve them.  What you're doing is much more dangerous.  You're trying to put a face to the subconscious- something that should, in my opinion, remain faceless.  You're dragging it out of it's cave, shining a flashlight in it's eyes." 

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