Thursday, September 6, 2012

Dreamcatchers by Tom Sarega

Title: Dreamcatchers
Author: Tom Sarega
Length: 4608 Kindle units
Rating: 1.5 stars

The Plot

Ronnie, Tommy, Freddie, Grace, and Kate have enough trouble starting secondary school. They really don’t need terrifying nightmares on top of that, but it seems they don’t get much choice. Desperate to make the terrifying visions stop, the children follow a trail of clues left by a missing chemistry teacher into a hidden chamber in the basement of the school library and then into a shared dream state. There they meet their guide Iktaniki, who says that they are the only ones who can avert the end of the world predicted by the Mayans centuries ago, but only if they can meet the challenges ahead.

The Good

Dreamcatchers had an interesting narrative structure, a unique sort of framework setting. The book was divided into five sections, and each represented a different part of the story arc. First the children meet and begin to have problems with nightmares, and in the second section they come together in the dreaming world to learn about the powers they have there. The narration then takes a break from the main characters and we learn about the origin of the dreamcatcher curse. This section takes up a good quarter of the novel and is probably the most interesting part. Then in the last two sections the children work together to uncover the secrets of the dream world and try to defeat the evil.

The book also takes place RIGHT NOW. I started reading the book on Sunday, September 2, 2012, and the first page of the book starts on Monday, September 3. (Of course, that made me ask myself why the children were starting school on Labor Day, until I realized they were British.)

The Bad

I don’t even know where to start. The story did not make a whole lot of sense. Basically, we are expected to believe that five British schoolchildren are having nightmares because of a conflict between two brothers in an ancient civilization on a totally different continent. At the root of this conflict is a dreamcatcher that was gifted to a Mayan (read: Mexican Indians) man by the gods. A quick google search will let you know that, while Dreamcatchers were adopted by the Pan-Indian movement, prior to the 1960’s they were associated with the Ojibwe Nation (read: U.S./Canadian Indians).

And that’s just the mythology/plot. The narrative sequence also left much to be desired. The children first need to investigate why they are having bad dreams, and their method for doing so is circuitous and illogical. Yet somehow it gets them into the dream world, where they need to develop dream powers. Basically, they suck at this, but Iktaniki insists that they need to go the World In Between anyway. And this whole time he’s giving them absolutely no information. And that’s a description with me leaving out the inconsistent characterization subplots and the weird scenes with the old lady and her mirror that I’m still confused about.

Also, I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again. But omniscient third person narration is never a good idea. Pick a character’s head and stay in it until you get to the next section.

The Romance

Well, the chemistry teacher who disappeared in the 1970s had a wife, and apparently they were very happy together. And in the flashback section, Iktaniki marries the chieftan’s daughter Maya, despite the differences in their social classes. But in general people were focused more on saving the world than on romance.

Will I read more?

I think the book is a stand-alone, but if there were more, I would not be reading them. To be overly honest and probably crueler than is strictly necessary, I’m regretting spending as much time as I did reading the book. But I remember that I perform a service by separating the good books from the bad and persevere.

See Details for Book on    Amazon    


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