The Trajectory of Dreams by Nicole Wolverton (Bitingduck Press; 260 pages; $14.99).
If you thought Amy Dunne was psychotic in Gillian Flynn’s bestselling nail-biter Gone Girl, then you haven’t met Lela White, the main character in Nicole Wolverton’s exquisitely twisted debut The Trajectory of Dreams. I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning because I could not put down Wolverton’s electrifying thriller. When I finished, I just had to read it again with different and knowing eyes.
Lela, a sleep lab technician in Houston, is a seriously flawed and completely unreliable narrator, which makes her all the more intriguing. She is also mental, in every sense of the word. Lela works in the sleep lab by day, side-by-side her annoying co-worker Trina, and endures the somewhat-unwanted advances of Max, the janitor. At night, however, Lela engages in activities of the clandestine variety.
Convinced the fate of the NASA space program is in her hands, Lela breaks into the homes of astronauts to ensure they experience normal sleep patterns. If she makes a mistake monitoring just one astronaut, then Lela is sure disaster will result.
When Lela was ten, her mother confessed she had caused the space shuttle to explode. Lela believes only she has the power to keep NASA astronauts safe from harm now. If and when one of the space travelers fails her test, Lela is prepared to kill him for the greater good. She is very Machiavellian in her belief that the end justifies the means.
Lela’s well-ordered world soon spins out of control, and so does she. When she meets Russian cosmonaut Zory Korchagin, the attraction is strong between the two. Could she kill Zory if he failed her test? Zory puts Lela at risk, but she cannot resist him. For Lela, Zory’s magnetic hold over her may very well be explosive.
If that’s not enough to send Lela over the edge, it only gets worse. Trina moves in with Lela after a storm damages the co-worker’s apartment. Lela grows increasingly indignant when Trina begins asking questions and snooping around Lela’s home, her sanctuary.
It’s not long before Lela grows more and more paranoid, ultimately leading to a psychotic breakdown. And what a collapse it is when Lela’s cat communicates with his owner. The Trajectory of Dreams is intense and fast-paced, especially since Wolverton writes her story using the first-person perspective. This allows us to get inside Lela’s warped mind and is wholly and tantalizingly discomfiting. Perhaps most gripping of all is having a front-row seat to watch Lela’s fascinating and final descent into madness.
I know my heart stopped several times while reading The Trajectory of Dreams and feel confident yours will, too. Incredibly bold and extremely unique, The Trajectory of Dreams lingers well after you read the last page. I guarantee, just like me, you’ll want to re-read it.