Tournament of Books, Round Three: Strange the Dreamer vs Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Woof.  Boy, those books were BRICKS.  Since this is Round 3, I’ll spare everyone the summaries and do my best to avoid spoilers.  As one does, in order to organize myself I made some lists.


Thoughts I had while reading The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee:


  • “OMG, Monty is the worst.  I hates him. Over-privileged white boy needs a smack in the face.”

  • “Percy, you delicate baby bird.  I just want to carry you around in my pocket.”

  • “Felicity, girl, you were born a couple decades too soon.  But, yay for women in science!”

  • “Smash the literal patriarchy, Monty!”

  • “For the love of god, just tell him how you feel!”

  • “OMG, Monty is the best.”

  • “God, that cover is awful.”


Thoughts I had while reading Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor:


  • “Damn, that’s some beautiful prose.”

  • “A mysterious city named Weep?!  Yes, please! 14-year-old Lauren would live there in a heartbeat.”

  • “Is anyone else legit terrified of Minya?  Forget Sarai, the muse of nightmares. The vengeful, ghost-controlling, eternal 5-year-old will forever haunt my dreams.  Probably alongside, Interview with the Vampire’s, Claudia.”

  • “Go get your dream girl!  Literally!”


In the process of reading these MASSIVE books, I discovered some interesting truths about myself.

  • Fantasy and Science Fiction have always been my jam and I’m all for complicated and intricate universes, but I did discover that I need my world building to happen at a faster pace or I end up confused and disoriented.

  • I LOVE historical fiction.  Growing up, it definitely wasn’t my favorite and now I can‘t get enough of it.  I once read an article that stated that your taste buds change every 7 years (which is probably why I now like brussel sprouts).  I think the same goes for reading habits. I’m finding it refreshing to reflect on the past, consider the progress we’ve made (or haven’t made), and think about how we can do better.

  • I am an absolute sucker for redemption stories.  The harder the fall, the greater the rise.


Both titles have niche appeal, and as a librarian I have had no problem booktalking either of them to eager readers.  But like most people have said (in this tournament and in other reviews), the slow build of Strange the Dreamer is a pitfall I can’t ignore.  I know I’m in the minority of people who did not 100% dig Strange the Dreamer.  I’ve read countless reviews saying they, “never wanted it to end” but I kept thinking, “when is it gonna start?.”  Yes, it is beautifully written. Yes, I fell in love with the language and the setting and the characters but amidst all of that purple prose, I got completely lost in the timeline of events.  Don’t get me wrong, I am super excited for the second book but I will definitely have to begrudgingly re-read the first one to refresh my memory of events.

And the winner is…


The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

So I pick, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, to move on to the next round.  Lee deftly tackles a myriad of topics that are so pertinent to modern-day culture.  Not only is it exciting (pirates) and scandalous (so much kissing), it’s an important read that will teach young people compassion and inspire them to stand up for what they care about.


Lauren Hilty is a Teen Services Librarian at the Grayslake Area Public Library.  She likes to add things that she’s already completed to her To-Do lists, just so she can immediately cross them out.  Sense of accomplishment for the win! Also, she would like to dedicate this blog post to Emma Quid, her Hazel Grace, who taught her how to be unapologetic about book choices and consumption of ice cream.

Back to Round Three, Bracket One

Onto Round Three, Bracket Three


2 thoughts on “Tournament of Books, Round Three: Strange the Dreamer vs Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

  1. Pingback: Tournament of Books, Round Three: Caraval vs. Dear Martin | So like YA know...

  2. Pingback: Tournament of Books, Round Three: The Hate U Give vs. Long Way Down | So like YA know...

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