A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.
Odea Donahue has been able to travel through people’s dreams since she was six years old. Her mother taught her the three rules of walking: Never interfere. Never be seen. Never walk the same person’s dream more than once. Dea has never questioned her mother, not about the rules, not about the clocks or the mirrors, not about moving from place to place to be one step ahead of the unseen monsters that Dea’s mother is certain are right behind them.
Then a mysterious new boy, Connor, comes to town and Dea finally starts to feel normal. As Connor breaks down the walls that she’s had up for so long, he gets closer to learning her secret. For the first time she wonders if that’s so bad. But when Dea breaks the rules, the boundary between worlds begins to deteriorate. How can she know what’s real and what’s not?
I am very mixed on how I felt about Dreamland. That 2.5 stars up there really saddens me and don’t get me wrong–this book wasn’t awful it just felt a bit unsuccessful in execution. The overall pacing of the book was very uneven and the middle really dragged for me. There was an entire section I think could have been edited down to help the flow of the novel. You won’t see it in the summary, but not only was this book about a girl dream walking and breaking the rules but also a crime mystery.
The mystery/thriller element surrounded an event that occurred early in Connor’s childhood. Because of the draw towards Connor-Dea chose to walk Connor’s dreams often. This allowed her to witness his recurring nightmare about the night of the crime. Because of this she became able to help Connor work through what happened and figure out things that had been a mystery to him for years.
When we aren’t dreamwalking or reading about Connor and Dea getting to know one another we have long sections of Dea trying to figure out her and her mother’s past. These parts were rather slow to me and to be honest I actually put this book aside for a very long time before picking it back up (about mid-way).
The romance (of course there’s one between Connor and Dea) was okay but nothing extraordinary. It felt pretty typical to young adult romance- a tad rushed but overall nothing that didn’t work ok for me. Dea as a character was hit and miss for me too. There was one ‘twist’ that was so easy to predict and see coming and she had no clue which was a tad frustrating. She also goes the whole novel distrusting people but conveniently trusts this one character and it backfires. It was so obvious to me and I wanted to hit Dea for not even questioning the person’s motivations once. It seemed all too convenient to move the plot along.
But with all these elements that didn’t work for me there was something intriguing that kept me reading. I wanted to know what had happened to Connor as a child…I think that really pushed me to keep reading. I also enjoyed the dream-land/world that Anderson created–it felt a tad Mirrormask to me (or at least that’s how I visualized it). The descriptions of the dream-world were creepy and I couldn’t help but see this…
Sadly, there was only a very short time spent in the dream world (we were in Connor’s dream reliving the night of the crime for the most part while dream-walking). But, the descriptions of the dream world were awesome! I loved this element and I really hope there’s a LOT more in the next book.
I almost think that Dreamland tried to be too many things and didn’t have the length to really accomplish all of them. We have Connor’s mystery, Connor and Dea getting to know each other, Dea’s mother’s mystery, Dea breaking the dreaming rules and then the dream world that the novel was named for. All of these elements had something going for them but all mixed up it felt that some areas weren’t delved into deeply enough. I think this caused the uneven pacing and slight disconnect to the storyline for me.