Dreamland: The True Tale of America's Opiate Epidemic

Dreamland by Sam Quinones
Sam Quinones
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Jun 20, 2019

Dreamland tells the tale of America's opiate epidemic in a way that feels as though you are hearing it firsthand; it weaves the stories of addicts and activists alike into a novel that is enticing and shocking. Quinones writes a novel that shows the behind the scenes of an epidemic that hits close to the heart of many Americans, yet he tells it in a way that takes you on an adventure rather than a report.

I think the cover is really creative and perfectly ties to the title-showing America as a swimming pool connects perfectly to the novel's emphasis that the opiate epidemic is so close that it shows up even at your neighborhood pool. I feel like the novel could've better emphasized the meaning behind Dreamland, but the beginning ties to the end well as it talks about Portsmouth coming back to life. I think the simplicity of the cover is really reflective of the novel because it is written in simple language with blunt facts and interviews.

The most compelling aspect of the book is the fact that Quinones tells the story through facts and interviews rather than his own opinion or through the lens of someone not involved in the epidemic personally. He really lets the stories and words of addicts craft the novel, and that makes it so enticing because you get to hear it straight from the source. I love that the novel talks about the Xalisco boys because that's a side of the opiate epidemic that many are unfamiliar with, but it is necessary to have insight into them as they play a significant role in this tragedy.

I was only disappointed that the novel felt a little discombobulated as it hopped back and forth between the rise in black tar heroin and the rise in opiates; it felt confusing at times. That being said, I think that the crisscrossed nature is how things really were during the height of this epidemic-very winding and un-uniform.

Written by
Maddie R.

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