Publication Date: August 4, 2015
Pages: 271 (print pages)
Targeted Audience: Young adult/Middle grade
Link to Amazon: Dreamwalking by C.J.Burry
Blurb: Ever since his twin brother’s death, Alex has curiously been unable to get a full-night’s sleep and has never been able to dream during those small hours of rest. One night, this all changes when he finds himself in a surreal world that he soon learns is known as “The Dreamscape.” Tasked with either learning to harness his abilities as a Dream Walker or fall into an eternal coma, Alex journeys to the Ruby Mansion with a Philosopher—member of a goodly group of Dream Walkers—to learn more of the dangerous race of Nightmares and the terrible purpose behind their machinations.
Meanwhile, the perpetually-stressed 13-year-old Ashlyn Cohn finds her dreams becoming more and more chaotic and frightening as she attends summer school and, for the first time, encounters a Dream Walker who would forever change the course of her life.
All the while, the plans of the mysterious “Tainted”, an order of turncoat Dream Walkers plot to destabilize the benevolent Philosophers for their own puzzling and reprehensible purposes. The mysterious Tainted agent known only as “Black” seeks to use the tumultuous Ashlyn as a pawn in their deadly plans, leaving Alex and his new Philosopher friends to contend with their perplexing conspiracy.
[Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review]
This book follows the story of a boy named Alex Stone. He is 13 years old and ever since his twin brother left him he has never been able to sleep peacefully. He has no idea about his parents and whenever he asks his uncle Yusuf and his daughter- Haylie about it, they seem to drift off to other topics of conversation.
His insomnia continues until one day when he drifts into a few minutes of sleep and meets a Dreamwalker -named Leopold Sapphire– in his dreams. Leo tells him that Alex is a Dreamwalker himself and is given the option to choose between leaving his uncle Yusuf and Haylie behind and learn the art of dreamwalking, or be sucked into an eternal coma.
Dreamwalkers are people who have been trained to fight Mares (I like that they are called Mares for nightmares). Mares are dark and evil creatures that scare a Sleeper (an ordinary human) awake so as to get pulled into the waking world with them. Once in the waking world they wreak havoc. Not only do Dreamwalkers fight with mares but also with an organization supporting and helping the mares, called the Tainted.
The Tainted is a group of people whose sole purpose is to make sure that mares pass into the waking world and to also disrupt the organization of the Dreamwalkers. We see the Tainted through the eyes of one of them, named only as Black. He is a young man, who is very conceited and thinks of himself as superior to everyone else.
We also meet an interesting young girl named Ashlyn Cohn. She is also only 13 years old and having two very educated parents who have high expectations from her academic results is a little too much of a stress. She loves art but her parents went her to excel in math and science, and math she cannot handle. Things start to change when she meets Alex in her mare infested dream. After that dream everything starts going downhill, she is kidnapped in one of her dreams and is kept prisoner since she is special too, but in a very different way.
This book had a very interesting plot, the dreamwalkers and the tainted had abilities that they could harness at the mention of particular words and even the idea of mares and having a job of protecting people in their sleep in very unique to me.
But this book lacked in world-building. I believe that the first book of a fantasy series should always have serious world-building because that decides if the fantasy book is amazing or not. The general things that were NEEDED to understand were more or less explained in a good way but I had so many more basic questions that were unanswered.
I thought that Leo teaching Alex about dreamwalking would have been an excellent opportunity for the author to explain to us about Dreamwalking (like how Kelsier explains allomancy to Vin) but unfortunately that wasn’t so. I really wanted to know how Leo taught Alex and how long did he learn? It was so weird that at one point he was just a trainee and the next moment (out of the blue) we are told that he was a rare gem… literally.
Also, I found the beginning to be very slow. Till chapter 6 or so it’s just us reading about Alex and Ashlyn doing mundane things with vague chapters about the Tainted. After the sixth chapter things start getting a little interesting with more information about the dream world and how things really work.
Now, Black -to me at least- seemed like an inconsistent character because at one point he kept stressing on how he was better than everyone and wanted to maintain an emotionless face at all times but around the end I think he showed way too many emotions for someone who is supposed to be so unsympathetic. However, to be honest I’m very interested in knowing more about this character.
By far my favorite character would be Ashlyn Cohn. She was so relatable with her not being able to understand the importance of selecting a college so early in her life and her being distracted by almost everything when it comes to learning math. She was also one of the most developed characters I believe. I really liked her when compared to Alex, who felt very 2D to me.
I felt that there were some parts of the book that was probably supposed to bring forth some kind of a reaction from the reader or something but that just didn’t work because we weren’t told about its importance at any part of the story. Specially the ending, which I think was supposed to be a cliffhanger but it wasn’t because… I didn’t know who the person was who made an appearance at the end.
There were also some typos and some loopholes around the end of the book.
*spoilerish*For example, the mockingjay was also called as the hummingbird… so what was it? A mockingbird or a hummingbird? Ashlyn threw her pencil at the beast but seemed to have it again in the next scene without ever picking it up again, and the part where Leo possessed the teddy bear and was said to not show any expressions (since it was non-living) and then suddenly he did start showing expressions?*spoilerish*
And the ending seemed a bit rushed, it would have been nice if the things that were revealed around the ending were a little longer (more explained and detailed) instead of just having them thrown at us. The pace at the beginning could have been fastened and around the end, when a lot of things were being revealed to us, we could have been given time to understand how the characters felt about the whole thing.
However, I did love the unique plot and the amazing imagery in the dreams. The curiosity to know more about the dreamscape is what kept me going till the end.
Overall, I believe that this book series has a LOT of potential and would love to see it get better in the next books.
Why would you want to read this book? If you think pencil forests, towers made of rubber ends, fleeing from college crazed crows, skeeing on mountains made of fruits, saving an anthropomorphic mouse-floating on a sponge- from two devil cats, running away from a crazed British tiger and altering dreams with pencils interests you then yes, I think you would like this book.
Ratings: 3/5 cupcakes
Lots of love,