Length: 285 pages
Publisher: Biting Duck Press
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
For Lela White, a Houston sleep lab technician, sleep doesn’t come easy—there’s a price to be paid for a poor night’s sleep, and she’s the judge, jury, and executioner.
Everyone around Lela considers her a private woman with a passion for her lab work. But nighttime reveals her for what she is: a woman on a critical secret mission. Lela lives in the grip of a mental disorder that compels her to break into astronauts’ homes to ensure they can sleep well and believes that by doing so, she keeps the revitalized U.S. space program safe from fatal accidents. What began at the age of ten when her mother confessed to blowing up the space shuttle has evolved into Lela’s life’s work. She dreads the day when an astronaut doesn’t pass her testing, but she’s prepared to kill for the greater good.
When Zory Korchagin, a Russian cosmonaut on loan to the U.S. shuttle program, finds himself drawn to Lela, he puts her carefully constructed world at risk of an explosion as surely as he does his own upcoming launch. As Lela’s universe unravels, no one is safe.
Here’s what I thought:
WHOA. This book grabbed ahold of me from the first page and did not let go. It is a crazy, imaginative and completely original story. I have never met a character like Lela before. She’s an unreliable narrator from the beginning, but exactly how unreliable is not certain, as the story is told from Lela’s point of view and despite the fact that she is obviously insane (I mean CRAZYPANTS insane), as a reader I couldn’t help but feel sympathetic towards her to a certain extent. She’s a woman who has lost everyone she loves and trusts, someone who is motivated by good intentions but has absolutely no grip on reality.
There are some really great characters in this book. Besides Lela herself, there is her arch-frenemy Trina, the Chin, Russian Teahouse Magda, Mrs. Gerhardt the librarian, Zory the cosmonaut, and my personal favorite–Nike the talking cat. The story is tightly plotted and never lags, and up until the very end I was unsure of what kind of outcome it would have, as Lela’s actions can be very unpredictable. Her mind works frantically to interpret the events that unfold and to rationalize the decisions that she makes.
Despite the serious consequences of many of Lela’s adventures, they never cease to be fun to read about. Seeing the world from her point of view is at once preposterous and exciting. She has a child-like nature, a vulnerability that makes it hard to hold her accountable for the things that she does. Even towards the end of the book, as Lela’s downward spiral becomes more of a free fall, a part of me couldn’t help but continue to root for her and hope that she could find some way out of the paranoid tangle of her own mind and let herself trust other people.
As a debut novel, The Trajectory of Dreams is an impressive effort and a really good read. Recommended.
Thanks so much to NetGalley, Biting Duck Press, and most especially Nicole herself for providing me with a copy of this book.
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