Author: Nicole Wolverton
Publisher: Bitingduck Press
Publication Date: March 1, 2013
Source: review copy received from the author for an honest review
Plot Summary from Goodreads:
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.
A few months ago, Nicole Wolverton emailed me to ask if I'd like to read and review her recent release, The Trajectory of Dreams. She lured me in by saying it had a "dark, twisty feel" similar to that of Gone Girl. Immediately, my book Spidey-sense was up. I definitely couldn't resist that kind of description!
In short, this book delivered on my expectations. It's sinister and disturbing--not in the manner of a horror novel, but as a psychological thriller that blurs the lines between reality and insanity. The protagonist, Lela, is ten pounds of crazy in a five pound bag. I can't even begin to come up with a psychiatric diagnosis for her. And next to the term "unreliable narrator" in the dictionary is a picture of Lela White. At the beginning of the novel, you know she's a little off, but as the novel progresses, you watch helplessly as she gets sucked into the vortex of her own demented thoughts. I guarantee that the last 50-60 pages will require you to read all in one sitting--the plot starts to snowball so quickly, you will ignore all others around you until you see what comes up next.
The interesting thing about Lela's character (other than being five cans short of a six pack) is that you actually can't help but feel a little sad for her...despite all of the havoc she wreaks on those around her. Pieces of her past are slowly revealed throughout the book, things that Lela herself clearly hasn't come to terms with yet. When you take these background details along with her current motives and actions, it's hard to decide if Lela is a woman to be feared, abhorred, or pitied.
The one thing I sometimes had a tough time with throughout the book was the side characters. I say "sometimes" because, since Lela was the only narrator, I don't know if my problems with the characters are because of how they truly are meant to be, or because Lela did a poor job of describing them (rightly so). For example, Trina (Lela's coworker/roommate): I found her to be overly nosy, jumping into Lela's business (like moving into her house?) in a way that I didn't find believable at all. But was she REALLY that nosy, or did Lela portray her as such because she THOUGHT Trina was nosy? And Max (Lela's coworker): is he outrageously ogre-ugly or does she just illustrate him that way? I'd be interested to hear what other readers think about this! In general, I do wish these secondary characters could have been fleshed out a bit more, but I see the challenge in doing that with Lela as the narrator.
Overall, this is a spectacular read. You can compare it, atmospherically, to Gone Girl, but this is absolutely a psychological thriller all its own. You won't ever look at the quiet girl in the next cubicle again without wondering if she watches you as you sleep...
Check out other reviews of The Trajectory of Dreams:
A Bookworm Belle
A Book And A Review