The Daydreams, a review by Sherry

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The Daydreams
Laura Hankin

368 pages
published May 2, 2023

Amazon | Goodreads

This was such a fun ride.  It gave me vibes of Saved by the Bell crossed with The Monkees or Glee.  You have the cast of a teen show that blew up 10 years ago coming back for a reunion show.  You have dual timelines of the present and when the show was on the air and while mainly told from Cat’s POV, you do get a little narration from the other stars so you get the full picture of what happened.

This was the right book at the right time for me.  While there are some weightier issues in here too, the book oozes the nostalgic feeling of the bygone era from the cast.  And if you are a fan of the 90s (is that historical yet?), you’ll love the pop culture references.  The reader is not in on the reason for the show blowing up at the start of the book and the details (very) slowly emerge in the earlier timeline.  I thought the typical teenage show characters played by the cast were well portrayed and I liked how the story exposed the differences between the actor and the character.

I also loved the different ways the book told the story.  There were news articles, videos and social media in addition to work in the POVs of the rest of the show, there were soliloquies.  Those were fresh and an angle I hadn’t seen used before, but perfectly fit into the story.

While the book was very predictable to me, there were a few twists I didn’t see coming. I was ultimately disappointed with the end.  It felt like the tone changed without feeling authentic to me and the edgy feeling throughout was lost.  But even so, I was thoroughly entertained by the book and would recommend this as a fun summer read.  I think it is going to be on a lot of must read lists.

I both read and listened to this one and while I enjoyed the read, I was surprised at the how the audio drew me in and made me forget the world around me.

Thanks to Berkley Books, PRH Audio and NetGalley for my review copies.

About the book

A deliciously entertaining novel about the stars of a popular teen show from the early 2000s—and the reunion special, thirteen years after their scandalous flameout, that will either be their last chance at redemption, or destroy them all for good.

Back in 2004, The Daydreams had it all: a cast of innocent-seeming teenagers acting and singing their hearts out, amazing ratings, and a will-they-or-won’t-they romance that steamed up fan fiction forums. Then, during the live season two finale, it all imploded, leaving everyone scrambling to understand why.

Afterward, the four stars went down very different paths. Kat is now a lawyer in Washington, DC. Liana is the bored wife of a famous athlete. Noah, the show’s golden boy, emerged unscathed and is poised to become a household name. And Summer, the object of Noah’s fictional (and maybe real-life) affections, is the cautionary tale.

But now the fans are demanding a reunion special. The stars all have private reasons to come back: forgiveness, revenge, a second chance with a first love. But as they tentatively rediscover the magic of the original show, old secrets threaten to resurface—including the real reason behind their downfall.

Will this reunion be a chance to make things right? Or will it be the biggest mess the world has ever seen? No matter what, the ratings will be wild.

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