Description from Goodreads
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?
Despite the rather unpromising start, Dreamland definitely surprised me as it took a turn to something very original and ended up being entertaining mystery/fantasy novel. The book was well-paced at all times, keeping the readers at their toes with both dream-travelling and romance, and I ended up reading the whole novel just in a day. I was kind of disappointed with the ending as it was left a bit open-ended - I was hoping it to have a more conclusive ending considering this is currently a stand-alone novel.
The beginning of the novel wasn't very strong, and already at 1% I was scribbling angry notes about animal cruelty being the first sign of psychopathy, but luckily my mind was changed pretty quickly. Even though the book started off with a cliché, an unpopular girl meeting a hot guy skinny dipping (who, of course, was new in town) and with some frankly really stupid and ignorant comments, I was glad to notice that element in the novel was short-lived. Just within the first 15% of the novel, my opinion had completely changed from exasperation to intrigue. Thank god. This book just had too much potential, and I would've hated it to continue with the "the right amount of fat for a mom" comments.
But moving on to other points. Dea and Connor, for example. I really enjoyed the relationship between these two. Quite may readers can probably guess that there will be something more than just friendship forming between them, and I loved how the author had decided to handle the relationship. It was never hurried, and shared experiences and trusting bond gradually formed between them, just like in real life it would happen in an ideal situation. But when the more romantic, tingling scenes came.. Anderson nailed them and I was mentally squealing at how well done those scenes had been written.
"Spooning was something hard and metallic. Spooning was organized, like a silverware drawer. This was warm and soft and fluid. This was a cup of milk before bedtime, sunshine pouring like liquid down a wall, soft model clay, imprinted with a finger."
The absolute favourite (and probably not very unpredictable) element of the novel was the dream-travelling as it unconsciously brought to my mind the Christopher Nolan film Inception. Even though the comparison might not be very fair as the film is absolutely incredible, but the current novel's author also had succeeded very well in creating a similar atmosphere while travelling in the dreams and how the dreams were constructed. Needless to say, the occasional cinematic quality of the book was the source of both the awe factor as well as the haunting mood. I particularly loved the dream-travelling scenes towards the end as the author had a lots of playground to work with - I was completely absorbed in the descriptions. Plus, sometimes the dreams were creepy as hell which is always a bonus!
However, I cannot really give more than 3.5 half starts to novel. I'm not sure if it was because I might not have paid enough attention at crucial moments or was is just the author being careless, but the plot definitely had some holes in it. Of course this made me immediately ask even more questions about the plot and the events, without really getting the answers I wanted. For instance (a minor spoiler ahead!!), Connor was accused of the murders of her mother and his 1-year-old brother when he himself was 7-years-old. Now, even though this is a very extreme situation, it's still not completely unbelievable. However, Connor was accused of bashing his mothers head in, and majority of people took this as the truth. I mean.. Does a seven year old really have all that strength to do it? Also, what's up with the dream-travelling 'rules'? And what was the logic behind Dea getting sick if she didn't visit the dreams? Even though the big reveal was supposed to explain these, I felt a bit unsatisfied with the answers.
Dreamland was an entertaining read, and I can perfectly imagine people reading this novel on an autumn evening while it's raining cats and dogs outside. It's that kind of a novel. Even though the novel wasn't perfect, at least I was able to look past the flaws to some extent and just enjoy the creepy but fun ride Dreamland offered.