Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Dreamland by Robert L. Anderson

23245337This review was written by: B and C
Received: ARC provided by publisher
Publication Date: September 22, 2015
Pages: 336
Stars: 4.25

All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream.
-Edgar Allan Poe

Odea (Dea) Donahue has never quite been your normal, all-American girl.  She's quirky in her own right and is forced to constantly move around the country on her mother's whim. Wherever she goes, rumors follow the two and formulate like wildfire.  As a result,  Dea keeps to herself and has precisely one friend nicknamed Gollum.  This is her life, lonely and erratic.  Why is this so, you ask?  Perhaps it has to do with Dea being able to walk through people's dreams.

Ever since she was six-years-old, Dea could walk through dreams, an ability that her mother possesses as well.  If they do not invade people's sleep, they becomes sick and weak, but once they walk, they are healthy as can be for an extended period of time.  However, this unique lifestyle has three very important rules attached to it: Never interfere.  Never be seen.  Never walk the same person's dream more than once.  Dea lives by and breathes these rules even if she doesn't understand them.  Dea's mother also tells her to avoid mirrors and water; it's how they get in.

The little town that she currently lives in has very little to offer.  Everyone knows everyone, and your business becomes everybody's business.  No one is going anywhere fast.  Then Connor comes to town, a boy shrouded in mystery, and things get much more interesting.  As the two meet and spend time with each other, Dea realizes that she's found another friend who makes her feel normal.  Perhaps Connor can become even more than a friend.  But then she walks his dreams.  He is hiding a dark past that he doesn't fully recall himself.  It's important to him to hide it from everyone.  Dea, intrigued by this newcomer, walks his dreams again . . . and then again . . . and then again.  Now the dream world and the real world are beginning to merge, and danger is lurking right around the corner.  People are bound to get hurt, especially those closest to her.

Can Dea reverse the damage, or is her world bound to fall apart?  What's Connor hiding?  Is his past the key to his future?  Will Dea finally make a normal life for herself, or is she destined to be different?  Why can she dream walk?  Read Dreamland and find out!  

Our Thoughts:
This is one of those reads that will reel you in from the start, no questions asked.  The strange atmosphere of ever ticking clocks, harbinger birds, and an entire houses stripped of mirrors set up a creepy, addictive feeling that was easy to slide into.  We immediately wanted more.  Dreamland is a a fairly well paced fantasy oriented novel, however sometimes we felt that it lagged at points, the soul reason that we didn't give it a full five stars.  To break it down, the story was eerie and ominous at times, mixed with the perfect blend of partial contemporary, but the story sometimes felt like it could have gone a little faster or been more engaging in just a few spots.  The beginning and ending were phenomenal.  The middle had both captivating scenes and an intriguing feel to it at points, but other parts felt doldrum or as if they could have been shortened or done without.  However, this was only found in small portions, and we strongly suggest still checking out Anderson's book!

The characters were extremely likable.  Starting with Dea and Gollum, they were your two lovable misfits that were the typical school outcasts.  They were abnormal to those around them but they possessed a quality that was extremely relatable.  Perhaps that's just because we're misfits, too! Too many female characters in YA literature are obnoxious, rude, overly passive, or unpleasant to read about.  Of course, there are definitely exceptions, like Celaena Sardothien, Hermione Granger, Annabeth Chase, and so on, but these great gals are honestly not found in overabundance.  Dea is a happy medium, and a great character to follow.  She's determined, inquisitive, passionate about her family and friends, and can walk through dreams to boot!  Connor, our favorite character, has tons of great qualities surrounding him, as well.  At first glance, he's not overly perfect in looks.  In fact, he's pretty average until he smiles.  That's when his facial features fit together like puzzle pieces into perfection.  We definitely appreciated this detail.  He didn't follow the Edward Cullen standard of being noticeably drop-dead gorgeous as soon as he walks into the room.  (We do love our Edward Cullen, though, don't get us wrong.)  We just want to say that it was great to see a guy who wasn't perfect in every way physically possible.  Connor is such a sweet person, who is genuine in his actions.  His past and hesitance to speak or confront gives him a gripping quality as he is presented and grows throughout the book.      

Dreamland was a fantasy riddled with mystery, contemporary elements, sinister creatures, frightening nightmares, jeopardizing danger, and a delightful dash of romance.  The ending and climax were absolutely amazing.  As mentioned in previous reviews, how a story ends is critical when it comes to our ratings.  They can effortlessly make or break the entire book, and Anderson delivered beautifully!  The ending was perfection, even if it was a little heartbreaking.  That one twist was just, for lack of a better word, awesome!  While the author has announced that this is currently a standalone, we can easily see Dreamland as the beginning of an epic series.  The closing opened up countless possibilities, and we'd definitely support and buy further installments if they ever become a reality.  Robert L. Anderson is a bright author who created a talented debut.  You should undeniably be on the lookout for Dreamland and his upcoming works.  They are bound to be thrilling.

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