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Caragh M. O'Brien

The Vault of Dreamers

Caragh M. O'brien The Vault Of Dreamers
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Biographical note:

Caragh M. O'Brien earned an MA in the writing seminars at Johns Hopkins University. Her novels Birthmarked and Prized were named YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults. Birthmarked was also a Junior Library Guild Selection and chosen for the ALA 2011 Amelia Bloomer List. She lives with her family and writes from her home in Connecticut.

Excerpt from book:

1

 

NIGHT

I MISSED NIGHT. I had other reasons to disobey, too, like wanting to escape the cameras, but most of all, I missed the deep, vacant darkness of night.

We lined up as usual, shivering in our bare feet and nightgowns. Rain streamed down the windows, obscuring the gray view of the prairie, and the patter sounded gently on the vaulted roof overhead. Orly passed out the pills, starting at the far end, and I watched as each girl obediently swallowed, climbed into her sleep shell, and slid her lid closed with a soft swoosh.

When Orly reached me, I took my pill like the others but faked tossing it back. Instead, I lodged the disk up alongside my gums before I took a sip of water and opened my mouth for her inspection.

She turned and went on to the next girl.

I’d won. I climbed in my sleep shell, spit the pill into my hand, and wedged it under my pillow.

“Close your lid,” Orly told me.

“Do I have to?” I asked. “I like the sound of the rain.”

“You can open it again after your brink lesson if you want,” she said. “Sleep well.”

When Orly switched off the lights, the room went the soft, gray color of childhood naps. I pulled my lid closed to watch the brink lesson cast across the glass: a scene of a woman laying bricks, tucking them evenly in a row. What I was supposed to learn from it, even subconsciously, I couldn’t tell. Afterward, I slid open my lid again and rolled over on my pillow. Across from me, the next girl fell asleep easily and completely, and from the uninterrupted sound of the rain, I knew forty-eight other girls fell asleep on schedule, too.

Myself, I was secretly, deliciously awake. As the hour brought the darkness closer, I lay fidgety with hope and relished how it felt to be alone, stealing back the real me. The windows darkened like a gift until I could see the faint, blue reflections of our domed lids in the glass. A nearly invisible glow fell over the dormant faces, making the girls’ skin gleam with faint phosphorescence, as if they had been chalked and scanned under a black light. I slowly waved my fingers before my face, testing. The glow gave my fingers a staggered trail of black shadows, like cartoon lines of motion, tracks in the air.

Deep night came at last, bringing me more awake than ever. After nine nights of drugged sleep, my nerves seemed to have lost the trick of falling asleep naturally on their own, and now they worked in reverse, lighting me up within. To watch the night out my window was not enough. I wanted more.

It was a risk, breaking the rules, but following them hadn’t done me much good, either. I had to face facts. With the fifty cuts happening the next day, this could well be my last night at Forge. I didn’t want to waste it sleeping. From outside, the bells of the clock tower tolled midnight, until the twelfth bong resonated away to nothing.

Slowly, I sat up to look around the room.

No alarm went off. No warning lights. Orly did not come running. Our fifty sleep shells, with their paneling below and full-length glass lids on top, were lined up in two rows as straight and motionless as so many coffins. Cameras had to be picking up my movements, but either no one cared that I was breaking the rules, or the night techies didn’t watch carefully. A third possibility didn’t then occur to me: someone care

"Fans looking for a science fiction novel that is not heavy on the science fiction or who want something vaguely dystopian will enjoy this title." - VOYA
 
"A mixture of science fiction and contemporary fiction, this novel is an interesting addition to both genres." - School Library Journal
 
"A fast, satisfying psychological thriller . . . The sudden cliffhanger will polarize readers." - Kirkus Reviews
 
Like viewers of The Forge Show, readers will want to keep watching Rosie.”- Publishers Weekley


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