Review: Life is but a Dream by Brian James

Summary/Cover Image from Publisher's Website:
Alec and Sabrina are crazy in love. Problem is: Sabrina's really crazy.

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.

As soon as I first saw the beautiful cover of this one, I automatically added it to my wishlist. It also didn't hurt that it sounded unique and one of a kind. I mean, two crazy people falling in love? What's not intriguing about that? Luckily, Life is But a Dream ended up blowing me away, because not only was the story within its pages startling yet spellbinding but also the writing was simply GORGEOUS! There was so much I just loved about this one to tell the truth.

Life is But a Dream begins the story of Sabrina just as she's in the middle of getting treated for schizophrenia much to her utter dismay. Sabrina has always argued that her unique way of seeing the world as well as her dreams were her own "special" way of seeing the world. Her parents and the people at the Wellness Center don't agree with this. However, everything changes when she meets Alec, a boy at the Wellness Center for his own reasons. Alec believes Sabrina and everything she says she sees, but as they begin to fall more and more love, everything begins to spin even more out of control. Sabrina stops taking her medicine, and takes her problems into her own hands, but will this build her up or break her down? Better yet, will everything be salvaged before it's too late? Only time and more pages can tell in this imaginative new addition to YA.

From the first page, I was utterly captivated by Sabrina's character and her way of seeing the world. It was easy to see that she was indeed crazy, but to see things from her point of view, really helped me to understand her character as well as to see why she didn't think she was "crazy" as her doctors said. I felt Brian really just did a fabulous job with bringing her character to life overall, because not only was she likable, but it was easy to root for her to get better. Alec, on the other hand, was a character I felt a variety of mixed emotions about, because while in some ways he truly helped Sabrina, in others he left her down in some big ways. However, this allowed the book to become one tension filled ride, one that I couldn't imagine any other way to say the least.

The best part of this book, though, was the writing. The descriptions of what Sabrina saw were hauntingly beautiful, and as mentioned before, they really allowed me to get into her head and understand what she did. I also enjoyed the development James put into the Wellness Center as well as its inhabitants. From the nurses to the doctors to the patients, each played their part perfectly.

The plot in this was another high point! I don't think I've ever read a book about schizophrenia before so to say this book was unique to me would be a serious understatement. I especially loved the level of tension as well as twists and turns Brian put into this book. For the majority Life is But a Dream, I truly had no idea how it was going to end, especially in the last handful of pages were everything truly begin to spiral out of control. Lastly, the conclusion was lovely. It was everything I wanted it to be, especially since it contained the perfect mixture of closure/openness.

Haunting, gorgeously written, and romantic, Life is But a Dream is one book I can't suggest highly enough! I know it's not going to be for everyone, but I still urge you to give a try, because hopefully you'll be just as blown away by it as I was. I can't wait to read more by Brian!

Grade: A+

Life is But a Dream (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads) is now out!

Source: Publisher via Netgalley 


  1. Gorgeous cover! I really want to read this, sounds awesome. Great review.

  2. I had the same misgivings about Alec, and I totally agree with you about the gorgeous writing. Definitely checking out the rest of James' books!

  3. I definitely agree about the writing-I was blown away by the skill of James in evoking the images as seen by Sabrina. I was fully immersed in his writing.

  4. I have a copy of this on my Nook from Netgalley. It sounds really interesting. I definitely have to get to it soon! I love stories about mental illness...Ok...that sounds kinda weird...But there's not a lot of them in YA, so it's nice to read something a little different.


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