Thursday, January 19, 2012

Book Review: Dreamland by Alyson Noel

Author: Alyson Noel
Publication: Square Fish; First Edition edition (September 13, 2011)

Description: Riley’s finding that the afterlife can be a lonely place when all you do is focus on work. So she goes to the place where dreams happen, hoping to find a way to contact her sister, Ever. She meets the director, who tells her about the two ways to send dreams. As a Dream Jumper, a person can jump into a dreamer’s dream, share a message, and participate. As a Dreamweaver, an entire dream can be created in a studio and sent to the dreamer. But Dreamweaving was outlawed decades ago, and the studio was boarded up. Thinking it’s her only way to reach out to her sister, Riley goes in search of the old studio. There she finds a ghost boy, who’s been creating and sending nightmares to people for years. In order to stop him and reach out to Ever, Riley is going to have to confront and overcome her own fears.

My Thoughts: Alyson Noel really hits the right notes in this story. She has the voice of a twelve-year-old, albeit one with a pretty impressive vocabulary, locked in. Riley really shows all the characteristics of the kids I work with - enthusiastic, volatile, dramatic, and more than slightly obsessive. Riley's obsession is with being a teenager. She really wants to be thirteen. Having been there, I don't really get her desire. I wouldn't be thirteen again for all the money in the world. But for Riley that age is a magical one. She really admired her older sister Ever and saw how she changed at thirteen. Riley wants that for herself. 

When the story starts, she is meeting with the Council because, while she was very successful at her last mission, it wasn't the success the council sent her for. When she is congratulated, she thinks she will soon be thirteen. But when the Council decides to give her a break, she realizes that she doesn't have anything but her soul catching work. She hasn't any other interests or hobbies. She also feels that the break will stop her progress to being a teenage.

Riley decides to visit Dreamland. She wants to visit with her sister Ever and get some advice about being a teenager. Naturally, being twelve, Riley wants instant success. When her practice doesn't lead to that by the time Dreamland closes, she decides to sneak back in and finish up her dream. She meets Satchel who is stuck in Dreamland and who is creating nightmares. He subjects Riley to a number of her fears until she decides to see if she can get him to progress. She learns his sad story and tries to make a connection with him. She thinks she is making progress when the director returns and stops her.

Riley is disappointed not to have succeeded with Satchel. But she is even more disappointed when she realizes that she herself has regressed. Her motives to help him were not the correct ones. She wanted him to progress so that she would gain points. She didn't want him to progress for his own good. Her motivations were selfish. 

Noel sneaks a lot of life lessons into Riley's story - lessons about what maturity means, about what community and friendship means. But the lessons don't overpower the story. Young readers will be fans of Riley Bloom on her journey. I look forward to sharing this story with them and sharing the next Riley book - Whisper - with them too.

Favorite Quote:
Everyone is driven by something. No one does stuff just for the heck of it. There's always a reason, some kind of motivation. Peer pressure, revenge, the pursuit of world domination or fame--the motivation's the fuel that sparks the flame--the driving force behind just about everything.
I won this book in a contest. You can buy your copy here.


  1. Sounds like an interesting story, and the cover is beautiful! Thanks for the review.

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