March 15, 2012

REVIEW: Life is But A Dream by Brian James

Title: Life is But A Dream
Author: Brian James
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends*
Publication Date: 27 March 2012
Format: eARC via Netgalley; 234 pages
GR Summary:

Sabrina, an artist, is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and her parents check her into the Wellness Center. There she meets Alec, who is convinced it's the world that's crazy, not the two of them. They are meant to be together; they are special. But when Alec starts to convince Sabrina that her treatment will wipe out everything that makes her creative, she worries that she'll lose hold of her dreams and herself. Should she listen to her doctor? her decision may have fatal consequences.

My Review:
Life is But A Dream by Brian James is anything but ordinary. He brings in this honest, surreal and captivating story about a girl, Sabrina, who is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Brian James managed to take a simple story of a girl trying to recover and managed to take it and twist into this story of beauty and brilliance.

I had no idea what to expect with Life is But A Dream. I wasn’t expecting to step into a mind of a schizophrenic and be filled with wonderment and have this slightly exhilarating feeling in my stomach. Not only did Brian James, amaze me, he impressed me with his beautiful writing. Every word in this book was more than descriptive and vivid, it was was imaginative. Everything was simple, but exuded this colorful incredibility with each phrase and sentence. I lost myself in those descriptions more than once.

I enjoyed the fact that Life is But A Dream was seen all through Sabrina’s eyes. I’ve never read a book that deals with an illness this severe and I was more than glad to have read it and experienced it such a way that the person who was sick is the narrator. I was able to sympathize with Sabrina and possibly understand her, if only a little. I really felt for her. I wanted to reach out to her because I knew she just needed someone by her side.

I love how magical and colorful and life-like everything was to Sabrina. She truly did see things differently; from the ever-changing sky, to the different colored rocks, to the sounds of the wind and the static that surrounds her world. I thought the world and the heaven she saw was beautiful. The way Sabrina describes her surroundings is like a fantasy and a dream. It felt like what she was seeing was real and just within reach.

I thought Brian James did a great job creating and developing Sabrina’s character and her personality. Sabrina was very intriguing character from the very beginning and was even more pleasing in the end. I was so wrapped up with Sabrina that I sometimes found myself questioning whether she really was crazy or not. She seemed more real than anything else in the book.

When Sabrina meets Alec, everything seemed to be going good for her. She found someone she could connect with and relate to, but it became obvious that Sabrina was spiraling downward instead of getting better. I thought having Alec as Sabrina’s love interest was a nice addition to the story. I enjoyed their talks and the time they spent together and I loved how Alec really did care for Sabrina from the beginning until the very end. Like him, I wish things didn’t go down that way with Sabrina. I get that Alec was trying to help Sabrina in his own way, but I thought the things he told her were a little irrational and I found him to be slightly cynical towards the world in general. Also, I did think their friendship and likeness for each other moved too quickly and this could possibly be the reason for Sabrina’s downfall.

I do have to comment that the pacing to this story is slower than I’m comfortable with. It’s not until fifty percent in where the story picks up the pace a bit. I also had trouble with the transitions between Sabrina’s past and present. Sometimes they blended and were unclear. I do not know if this was intentional due to Sabrina’s illness and her state of mind, but it did leave me disoriented at times. More than once I had to reread previous pages in the book to catch up with Sabrina’s ever changing thoughts. However, the overall writing of this book makes these issues minor in comparison.

All in all, Life is But A Dream was a fascinating and heart-felt story. It’s beautifully written and is seemingly able to transport you into the strange entrancing mind of Sabrina’s heaven.

My Rating: 

4 out of 5 stars

*Thanks to Netgalley and Macmillan for allowing me to read an eARC of this book. In no way do they influence my thoughts in this review. It is solely my own. 


  1. Great review!! This book sounds so interesting. I've never read a book where the narrator had schizophrenia. It should be an interesting read. Glad to here that you liked it. I've read books like that where its confusing and your just not sure if your in the narrators present or past. :)

  2. I have been wanting to read this book :D Glad you liked it! But I don't really care for slow paced books. Great review :)

  3. I think it's interesting that the MC has a mental illness. I've seen a few other YA books that deal with this and I wonder if this might become a trend in contemporary YA

  4. rad review
    ican't wait4this1

    contemp rules

  5. Very nice review. I can't wait for this book. It sounds fascinating.


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