Firstly, I want to reiterate just how important book covers are - visually, I think this book is quite stunning and the rider "The only thing they can't take is your hope” is the underlying theme which runs throughout Yoora's story.
Yoora, and her parents and grandparents, live in a small settlement in North Korea, a place were neither hope nor charity is allowed to flourish. Emotionally sterile and devoid of all compassion, Yoora and her family face hardship on a scale which we, in the ‘civilised’ west can barely imagine. And yet, hope is allowed to linger in hidden corners and as Yoora and her family face tough challenges, you can’t help but be drawn into the significance of their plight.
The story is beautifully written, with a fine eye, not just for the history and genetic makeup of a country at odds with itself, but also with a deep understanding of the power of the human spirit. A Dream of Lights really gets into the heart of what it is like to live under such a fierce regime. Life is unbearably hard for Yoora and her family and horrendously shocking, and yet, the strength of the narrative ensures that this fictional story really gets its message across, and shows that determination and the will to succeed is a fundamental human right, whilst at the same time forcibly reminding us, that we should never forget those for whom life is a constant struggle against almost impossible adversity.
Aimed at the young adult market, this is one of those books which easily crosses the great divide into adult fiction, and as such, is well worth reading by a wider audience.
on 20 October 2014
Beautifully written yet unflinching account of a teenager's life in North Korea.
Though I wasn't expecting A Dream of Lights to be a fluffy read, Kerry Drewery doesn't shy away from the grim reality of life under a dictatorship. The first part of the story — Yoora's everyday life — reads uncomfortably like something you only read in dystopian fiction. As the novel progresses, Yoora and half her family are sent to a prison camp and life becomes close to unbearable. As I was reading, I was constantly aware that the story is based on reality — that people are living this way in the modern world, with no end in sight — and that's incredibly hard to accept. For that reason alone, A Dream of Lights is such an important novel, as it sheds light on suffering that is rarely in the public eye.
Real-life implications aside, Kerry Drewery's second novel is very well written, and I constantly wanted to read on. She manages to write with beauty and hope, and the bravery of her characters is inspiring. Highly recommended.
on 1 September 2014
It is a sinister place viewed through innocent eyes that opens to the reader a country that in reality is closed. A first-person narrative guides us on and on through unimaginable and horrific hardship, and yet how can one put this book down? Kerry Drewery induces such concern and has drawn such an authentic and beautiful heroin that one must follow. I often fall asleep in bed at the end of the day with a book in hand, I've often strained to stay awake and finish just one more sentence, but this book caused me to wake up fully in the middle of the night with the feeling that I must read on now. It is so compelling, deeply uncomfortable and unnerving and yet at the same time enlightening. There is a great deal to learn from this story, not least about the strength of the human spirit. And I do believe I will spend the rest of my life being that little bit more appreciative. Clever, moving and thoroughly absorbing, this haunting and desperate journey might just change your life.
on 15 April 2015
This is a terrific book. It is set in North Korea and tells the story from the point of view of 16 year old Yoora. She and her family suffer a harrowing punishment when they are accused of being traitors. What Kerry Drewery does so skilfully is show how Yoora's beliefs move from uncritical devotion to Our Dear Leader and the propaganda she has been fed since childhood, to a gradual awareness and then a dawning of full knowledge about just how cruel and oppressive the regime is.
This may all sound dark, and certainly the depiction of life in the prison camp is dark, but ultimately this is an uplifting book. This is because Yoora is such a brave and indomitable character and you find yourself rooting for her so strongly.
It is described as a Young Adult novel and the protagonist is a teenager, but I think this novel would appeal to many readers and it deserves a wide audience.
on 20 May 2015
It’s difficult to do justice to how much I loved this book and how excited I am to discover Kerry Drewery’s writing talent.
Dream of Lights tells the story of Yoora and her family, who live a life of immense hardship and sterility in North Korea: they are continually cold, hungry, and forced to obey the oppressive rules of the state. When Yoora falls in love with the son of a government spy, her life unravels and she and her family face horrific punishment.
This novel is informative and important because it sheds light on the suffering of ordinary people in North Korea: a subject that we in the West know little about.
Yet it is much much more than that: a story so haunting and powerful, it stayed with me long after I finished it. The prose is pitch perfect. Yoora is an unforgettable character: she is brave, honest and strong, yet endearingly fallible. The book is both traumatic and hauntingly beautiful. It is about indescribable hardship, suffering and loss, yet it also celebrates the power of hope, courage, and imagination. It depicts the capacity of humans for acts of unspeakable cruelty, but also their capacity for love and loyalty and incredible selflessness. I can’t recommend it highly enough: it is a great novel, uplifting and moving. I look forward to reading many more by this talented author.
on 6 March 2013
Ever wondered about life in mysterious North Korea? This memorable novel takes you there, in all its terror and strangeness. Our heroine is on a journey to find her own life, to escape the path laid out for her by the cruel dictatorship. This novel will move and uplift you. I highly recommend it. Check out Drewery's first novel too, another honest, haunting book. This writer takes you on extraordinary journeys. Read her.
on 10 February 2016
Put simply, this book is a triumph. In A Dream of Lights Kerry Drewery skillfully portrays life behind the veil of North Korea, with all its hardships and injustices, and yet imbues her story with hope, love, and the sheer power of the human spirit. The teenaged main character, the courageous and indomitable Yoora, is wonderfully drawn, as are all the others players in this unforgettable story. With its insight into an oppressive and inhumane regime - one very much in the news at present – and an enthralling plot that is never predictable, A Dream of Lights is a very special book indeed. Although categorized as a Young Adult novel this haunting story deserves to be read widely. Highly recommended.
on 27 June 2014
This is one of those books that teaches you so much as you read. I am aware of the situation in North Korea, but did not know the finer details of the regime the people have been living under. It was a fascinating book and a gripping read. I really liked the key characters and the dynamics within the family. It was quite an upsetting read at times but really well written about and managed to successfully tread the line between keeping it appropriate for teens to read but still giving enough detail to keep the drama high.
I will defo read Drewery's other book and more on this topic.
Definately a book for fans of Between Shades of Grey.
on 23 June 2015
Was intrigued by this and purchased it looking for a book to be able to reccomend to my able Y6 Readers. I knew nothing about North Korea and thought that having read the book, the nightmare of Orwell's 1984 has been manifested here. The narrative developed well and I thought that the events were dealt with in an appropriate manner. I was happy with the way it concluded; it leaves a good opportunity to consider what could happen next. I'm going to purchase the other books that Kerry has written, and have them on my classroom bookshelves once I've read them.
on 7 March 2015
I would put this on the school curriculum, for all sorts of reasons - from the subject matter to the high quality of the writing. Excellent stuff.