Friday, July 12, 2013

Sleepwalkers by Ross Ellis

Alistair, Ruby, Sean, and Meganne are all "Sleepwalkers" -- kids with the ability to control their dreams and, as they've discovered, enter the dreams of others.  Each belonging to a different school group/trope (nerd, girly girl, tomboy girl, etc), they've bonded into a tightknit circle of friends (and left their other cliques behind) after finding each other in the world of dreams.

Then they meet Chester, another kid who, as it turns out, has the same gift they do.  Chester's home life isn't fantastic, and in a sad turn of events, Chester is thrust into a coma by a tragic accident.  Our Sleepwalkers decide to enter his dreams to wake him up, but what they find there isn't a dream... it's worse than a nightmare.

Wow, GREAT story idea.  You can see the author's background in screenwriting seeping through the writing as he very much understands fast-paced action.

There are a few problems I have with it though:  First, the transitions are non-existent.  Sure, there are chapter changes, but most of the time, within chapters, when a scene switches or it's later in the day or whatever the case, there is NO transition.  Not even a few spaces between paragraphs to signal the flow has jumped along.

Second, the beginning is a little confusing.  I felt like they were just meeting Chester, then at later points, their relationship with him seems much deeper and it seems like they've known him a while.  Needs some clarification or some more detail.

Lastly, I feel like the whole story needs to be expanded.  It's a relatively short story (less than 200 pages) and it could use some thickness to it.  Add more action.  Make the journey/quest to save Chester longer, more obstacles, harder challenges, bigger scenes.  It felt... incomplete.

I must say though, that the kids and their abilities were well done.  And the dream worlds were interesting, especially once they got into the nightmare coma land.  I feel like this world was epic, but the amount of story we got for such a huge and scary place was minimal. 

The pros:  Great story, fun, creepy, good characters, fast pace.

The cons:  over way too quickly, needs more fleshing out, confusing intro stuff, more action please!

Overall, I very much enjoyed this novel.  It has a lot of potential for greatness, especially if it was fleshed out a bit.  I could definitely see this made into a film.  I'm giving it a four because while it could use some work, it was entertaining enough to keep me to the last page, the world and idea was great, the characters were good, and I would definitely read a sequel (or a fleshed out rework or something).  Very entertaining.

Thanks to the author for his generous gift of a copy.  I hope my honest review and feedback helps!

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