Friday, July 13, 2018

Dreaming Dangerous by Lauren DeStefano, 2018

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Brassmere Academy for the Extraordinary is a school for orphans with strange and wonderful gifts. Twelve-year-old Plum has lived there forever, and each night, she ventures into her dreams alongside her three best friends, Vien, Gwendle, and Artem, to fight monsters and journey on dangerous quests. But one night, Plum gets a mysterious warning that she and her friends are no longer safe. And the next morning, Artem is nowhere to be found.

As Plum, Vien, and Gwendle search for their friend—in both the dreaming and waking worlds—they start to uncover alarming secrets about Brassmere and its intentions. Will they be able to find Artem before it’s too late, or will they be next to disappear?

(208 pages)

This is the sort of book I would have absolutely loved when I was younger. I was a sucker for stories set at boarding schools or orphanages, and I loved main characters with special powers.

In fact, these aspects of Dreaming Dangerous reminds me quite a bit of Victoria Forester's The Girl Who Could Fly. It's basically a shorter, slightly younger alternative of the other book. Which is good, because The Girl Who Could Fly was (and still is) one of my all-time favorite books.

I love the ambiance of these books. The setting and workers at Brassmere are described in a deliciously spooky way, and the dreams Plum shares with her friends are fascinatingly weird (as is the fact that Plum doesn't even realize all the ways her control over her dreams are unique). I loved reading the dream sequences, especially.

Honestly, my main issue with Dreaming Dangerous was that it wasn't long enough: it didn't give us long enough at Brassmere to explore that oppressive ambiance, it didn't give us long enough with the kids to really get to know them or their friendship dynamics on a deeper level, and it didn't give us enough time with the drama and adventure later in the book. If it had been longer, it would have been even closer to perfect.

This is a reaction I actually share with my middle-school-aged brother, by the way: I lent the book to him when I was done with it, and when I asked what he thought he said he wished it had been longer and more detailed. The conversation about the book also morphed into a long debate about medical ethics, so I have DeStefano to thank for that as well as for the fun read! I always love when media forces us to think about deeper topics.

All in all, Dreaming Dangerous is a great little book that really just suffers from one main flaw: length. And that's only an issue for us–if you or your reader likes shorter reads, then Dreaming Dangerous could be absolutely perfect.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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