Title: Doors of Sleep
Author: Tim Pratt
Series: Journals of Zaxony Delatree #1
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 2/5 stars
The Overview: Every time Zax Delatree falls asleep, he travels to a new reality. He has no control over his destination and never knows what he will see when he opens his eyes. Sometimes he wakes up in technological utopias, and other times in the bombed-out ruins of collapsed civilizations. All he has to live by are his wits and the small aides he has picked up along the way – technological advantages from techno-utopias, sedatives to escape dangerous worlds, and stimulants to extend his stay in pleasant ones. Thankfully, Zax isn’t always alone. He can take people with him, if they’re unconscious in his arms when he falls asleep. But someone unwelcome is on his tail, and they are after something that Zax cannot spare – the blood running through his veins, the power to travel through worlds… -Goodreads
Truthfully, I would not have picked up Doors of Sleep had it not been a book club selection. And even then, I resisted. It’s not my usual brand of novel. But the beauty of a book club is that it encourages you to try things you might not have otherwise, so here we are.
The verdict? It was okay.
I liked the first half better than the second. It introduced the premise for the story, infused some interesting characters, and gave a page-turning conflict. I found myself genuinely interested in continuing.
And then I got to the magic cornucopia.
This is not my first venture into Pratt’s work. The first 6 or so Marla Mason books are among the strongest urban fantasies I’ve ever read. I loved the first few (and the prequel) with a passion… and then lost patience once he started self-publishing them.
His ideas, which are already wildly creative and out-there, got too ridiculous and wild without a publisher’s careful eye on keeping the content geared towards the most mass- appeal. I find I have no patience when the things that happen in the book start to get stupid, but I know my tolerance level is less so than most. I just don’t enjoy the far-fetched.
So when things started taking that turn in Doors of Sleep, I lost a lot of the investment I was feeling in the story. Pair that with some lengthy existential dialogue passages, add a slowdown in pacing, then top it off with some very abrupt, convenient, and non-sequitur character growths, and you have the reasons for my eventual dissatisfaction. I also did not particularly enjoy the antagonists, which I’m sure didn’t help the experience.
Overall, I wish I’d enjoyed it more. It had a lot of promise and a cool idea, which I feel was explored pretty well in this first book. However I probably won’t be continuing the series.
Recommendations: if you appreciate the more conceptual novels and really don’t mind when things get ridiculous/weird, then Doors of Sleep might be your jam. I can definitely say I’ve never read anything quite like it.
Other books you might like (Note: because I’ve never read anything quite like Doors of Sleep, my OBYML selections are just a compilation of the last five weird books I’ve read…. perhaps they’ll strike a similar chord):
by Niki Hawkes