Review: The Rule of Mirrors by Caragh M. O’Brien
This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
(Description nicked from Goodreads.com.)
“The entire country was watching when Rosie Sinclair was expelled from Forge, the prestigious arts school that doubles as a reality TV show. But few know how Dean Berg was mining students’ dreams in laboratories deep below the school. And no one, least of all the Dean himself, knows that when Rosie’s dreams were seeded into the mind of another patient, Rosie’s consciousness woke up in that body–a girl far from Forge, a girl with a completely different life from Rosie, a girl who is pregnant.
Told from alternating points of view between Rosie as she makes sense of her new identity and the shattered subconscious that still exists in her old body, this sequel to The Vault of Dreamers will keep readers on the edge of their seats and leave them hungry for more.”
I feel like I wasn’t totally fair to the previous book, The Vault of Dreamers, when I reviewed it last year. I wasn’t aware that O’Brien was doing a trilogy, and because of that, I wasn’t happy with the ending. Now that I’ve had the opportunity to read the sequel, I can speak much more favorably about how things fell out in anticipation of the events in this novel.
The Rule of Mirrors is different from its predecessor in that there are two narrators this time, and they are essentially the same person. Part of Rosie’s consciousness wakes up in a new body, Thea, and it’s not just a new body that she has to contend with, but also a different race, social class, and phase of life. This is a girl who came from poverty, and suddenly she’s thrust into a world of wealth that nonetheless comes with a whole different set of challenges. Meanwhile, the original Rosie engineers her escape from Dr. Berg and embarks on a quest to get revenge against him for holding her captive and mining her dreams.
This book is also different in that the reality show aspect is minimized, which makes sense given that Rosie only returns to the Forge school in order to sneak around the underground chambers. Thea has almost nothing to do with the Forge school aside from eventually showing up there near the end of the book, so there’s a very different feel to this one.
I kind of wish that the inevitable romantic relationships had been left out, especially because it gets complicated with both Burnham and Linus (two guys who liked Rosie at the school) and Thea’s old boyfriend Tom. It’s more than I wanted to keep track of, and I was more intrigued by the psychology of one person in two bodies. In fact, that’s the most interesting part of the story: watching Rosie struggling with her status in Thea’s family and realizing that her actions will affect other people who love Thea for who she was before her accident.
There were also some cool twists that came about as both Thea and Rosie tried to find answers to what happened to them–one of the biggest ones being that Rosie isn’t the only person to have woken up in a new body, but I won’t spoil things by telling you who it is. I would have liked to see more about the dream seeding; I understand that the author tried to do this by focusing on Thea’s awakening as Rosie, but a wider look would have been welcome.
While not as strong as the first book, The Rule of Mirrors still had lots of good plot nuggets to chew on. I’m still invested enough in the story to look forward to the final book in the trilogy.