Dreamquest: Tales of Slumberia
by Brent Hartinger
MG fantasy. 154 pp.
Starscape. 2007.

Julie Fray is experiencing quite a bit of stress in her life. Because of this, her dreams are rather bizaare and frightening, causing her to lose sleep. Then, one day, she wakes up inside her dreams at the dream studio where the nightmares are filmed. The actress who plays her in her dreams escapes out the rift and takes over her daily life while she goes on a quest to ask the producers to stop creating nightmares for her.

Normally, I'm a real fan of Hartinger's work, especially Geography Club, Order of the Poison Oak, The Last Chance Texaco, and Grand & Humble. However, I was grossly disappointed with Split Screen: Attack of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies/Bride of the Soul-Sucking Brain Zombies, and Dreamquest doesn't do it for me either. The story idea is creative; I liked that. And I'm willing to forgive the main character's passivity and timidity because I'm given enough to understand how these traits have shaped this character, and she does overcome them in the end to resolve her personal conflict.

But a book that is only 154 pages long should not feel like it's spinning its tires and going nowhere. . . . Can you stop my bad dreams? No, I only direct them. trek trek trek . . . Can you stop my bad dreams? No, I only write them. trek trek trek . . . Can you stop my bad dreams? No, that's what the people want. blah blah blah . . . So, in the end, it felt like this was just one wicked long book. And to think that they want this to be the first book in a series. Sigh.

My recommendation is to stick to Hartinger's good stuff, particularly Grand & Humble. Lowry does a much better job with the dream motif in Gossamer.

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