The Trajectory of Dreams by Nicole Wolverton, Book Review

Today Booklover Book Reviews is hosting Nicole Wolverton’s virtual book tour celebrating the release of her debut novel The Trajectory of Dreams.

The Trajectory of Dreams Synopsis

The Trajectory of Dreams by Nicole Wolverton

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.

Genre: Literature, Thriller, Romance, Drama

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I was unable to resist the original synopsis of Nicole Wolverton’s debut novel The Trajectory of Dreams. I also love a good unreliable narrator so had very high hopes for this novel. Fortunately, Wolverton’s execution not only lived up to my expectations, it surpassed them.

An unreliable narrator is a beautiful thing, if well executed. In The Trajectory of Dreams narrator, Lela White, Wolverton has created a truly beguiling character. From the opening line,

Breaking into an astronaut’s home took time.

and viewing the world and people through her thoughts and actions we understand things are not quite right – or more to the point, things are  decidedly wrong, but to what extent?

Superb characterisation

Lela’s descriptions of her nemesis, Trina Shook,

I could feel the woman’s presence behind me even before she said a word. It was like a fleet of crabs had crawled up my back, pinching at my skin.

Trina Shook had always reminded me of my mother: vicious and hateful with a veneer of goodness. It was more than just the faux little girl lilt of Trina’s voice. They also shared the same head of hair – dark blonde, parted over the left eye. Trina’s hung straight to her shoulders while my mother’s  had curled around her face like snakes with broken necks.

and that of her admirer, astronaut Zory Korchagin, reveal more about Lela than those she describes.

The man cleared his throat. My head jerked up, eyes now focussed on his angular chin. Light brown goatee and mustache, neatly trimmed.

I memorized the shape of his razor-edged nose and elfin ears. The gray eyes – just the color of the barrel of a gun – peered beneath bushy eyebrows. Maybe he knew about my mission and planned to kill me. I’d always thought there had to be someone working against me.

As you can see, it is not just Wolverton’s development of the characters, but the wonderful tactile prose she employs in doing so that heightens the tension throughout.

Complex plotting

The Trajectory of Dreams by Nicole Wolverton is a taut psychological thriller and high-quality literature.

Wolverton has somehow perfectly balanced showing empathy for those suffering mental illness along with the confronting and terrifying reality of their actions if those illness are left unmanaged.

The Trajectory of Dreams is as gripping from an entertainment perspective as it is admirable from a literary standpoint. Wolverton’s complex plotting and measured unveiling of the extent of Lela’s psychosis leaves much for even the most keen-eyed and perceptive reader to reflect upon. It takes a talented author to engender in me supportive feelings for a character carrying out actions I consider unspeakable. To consider how fine a line one must cross to embark on the path to insanity is scary but powerful.

I unreservedly recommend The Trajectory of Dreams by Nicole Wolverton and look forward to more from this creative voice.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4.5 / 5 ; The Writing 5 / 5  –  Overall 4.75

Get your copy of The Trajectory of Dreams from:

Amazon Bookshop US Book Depository Booktopia AU

About the Author, Nicole Wolverton

Nicole Wolverton fears many things, chief amongst them that something lurks in the dark. From ghosts to stalkers, her adult and young adult fiction plays on the mundane and not-so-mundane things that frighten us all. Her short stories and flash fiction have appeared in Black Heart MagazineThe Molotov Cocktail, and Penduline, among others. She also moderates 5 Minute Fiction, a weekly international flash fiction challenge. The Trajectory of Dreams is her debut novel.

When Nicole isn’t writing, you can find her on the Schuylkill River paddling with the Philadelphia Flying Phoenix women’s dragon boat team or digging around in her gardens. She is founder and Editor-in-Chief of Farm to Philly, a website focused on eating locally grown foods and sustainable living. Wolverton has been featured for her work with Farm to Philly in GRID Magazine, Slashfood, Philly Homegrown, and various other food-related websites. Check out Nicole Wolverton’s official website and an interesting interview with Bookmagnet.

* My receiving a copy of this book free from the author did not impact my ability to express my honest opinions in the review above.