Dealing in Dreams
Genre: Dystopia, YA
Publication date: March 5th, 2019
by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
At night, Las Mal Criadas own these streets.
Nalah leads the fiercest all-girl crew in Mega City. That roles brings with it violent throw downs and access to the hottest boydega clubs, but the sixteen-year-old grows weary of the life. Her dream is to get off the streets and make a home in the exclusive Mega Towers, in which only a chosen few get to live. To make it to the Mega towers, Nalah must prove her loyalty to the city's benevolent founder and cross the border in a search for a mysterious gang the Ashé Ryders. Led by a reluctant guide, Nalah battles other crews and her own doubts, but the closer she gets to her goal, the more she loses sight of everything—and everyone— she cares about.
Nalah must do the unspeakable to get what she wants—a place to call home. But is a home just where you live? Or who you choose to protect?
-A copy was provided by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers for review-
I honestly didn’t know that Lilliam Rivera had a new book coming out until earlier this year which just shows you where publishing’s priorities are in terms of marketing. In my eagerness to read anything Rivera writes, I actually forgot to read the summary and it wasn’t until a while later that I realized Dealing in Dreams was a proper dystopian novel. If you read my review for We Set the Dark on Fire, you will know I don’t do dystopia anymore but given that I’ve technically now read two dystopian novels for the first time in literal years, I THINK IT’S SAFE TO SAY I am doing dystopia again. BUT, to be clear, I am only doing dystopia written by POC.
Dealing in Dreams starts off super slow. I actually read 11% first and put the book down. I considered DNFing because it just wasn’t grabbing at me but my friend Shannon told me she had the same problem at first so I decided to push through instead of DNFing. I am so glad I did because otherwise, I would have missed being immersed in the vibrant, matriarchal world of Mega City.
First things first, even though Dealing in Dreams was much harder for me to get into than Rivera’s debut The Education of Margot Sanchez, I can still see how far she has come since writing Margot Sanchez. I love how complex many of the characters are, I love how how imperfect Nalah is and I really just love this world.
Dealing in Dreams is set in a matriarchal society gone corrupt, and not everyone is quite aware of how deep that corruption runs (including Nalah.) I genuinely loved this take, especially when it was later contrasted with another matriarchal society. I also adored the time and care Rivera puts into slowly unfolding all the systematic discrimination in this society. Not only did it provide a great lens with which we could look at our own society, but it felt a lot more realistic as Nalah slowly came to realize how much the system works against them.
Backtracking a bit, while Nalah’s crew is super complex, I found that some other major secondary characters weren’t? For example, Déesse, the villain, seems pretty flat. We don’t really know her motivation or what forced her to deviate off the track set by the other founders of Mega City.
Overall though, this book is both a remarkable adventure and a compelling dystopian novel. You’re sure to fall in love (or at least in like) with Nalah’s badass crew and sure to be taken in by the brewing revolution. If you’re a fan of dystopian novels or ready to give one a chance, Dealing in Dreams is not a book to be missed.