Author: Adrienne Woods
Date of Publication: 29th March 2015
“I didn’t know what else to do, so I let out a scream”
When I read this line, I think it perfectly encapsulated my feelings about Dream Casters: Light. I absolutely LOVE the idea behind this story. The concept of a war being fought between the people who have power over dreams and nightmares is really interesting. The use of sand is really cool and I loved its development throughout – using it as weapons was a really ingenious touch.
However. Yes, there is a however (the aforementioned scream). The however in this instance being two fold:
1. The Characters
Each character is barely given more than a moment’s depth or characterisation before being name dropped in various life and death scenarios. I think the cast of characters was overwhelming, which didn’t help me to create emotional connections to any of them. For a long time I was convinced Joe and John were the same person (spoiler: they’re not).
Chas comes across more often than not as a plot device as opposed to a real person. When she is real, she’s great, and kicks plenty of ass. One thing I really would have liked would have been a slightly closer look at how the discovery of this other world affected her religious beliefs (I’m surmising she’s a Christian from several dropped hints throughout the novel).
For me, Leigh is a bland leading man – virtual as he may be – only appearing a handful of times and using all opportunities to move the plot forward as opposed to bonding with Chas or convincing me he was a real boy. Saying all of that, one I worked out who John was, I enjoyed his character. Max is also a bit of a favorite of mine. However my struggles to differentiate between characters did impact my enjoyment of the story.
This leads me onto the second of that two part however I was talking about…
2. The Writing
Don’t misunderstand me here – the writing is by no means bad. My greatest complaint is that everything felt very rushed – by which I mean, for a book which is just tipping 450 pages there doesn’t seem to be an even pace. Event after event happens (some for real, some not) and I was left racing to catch up, unsure what each occurrence was contributing to the whole. I would agree with arguments that sometimes a fast paced novel is good – but in a debut I would need more world building and character driven focus to help me invest in future installments. A more evenly blended mixture of the two would definitely have given me a greater understanding and enjoyment of the book.
These two things combined frustrated me half to death – because they were really the only things holding this back from being a really fun first installment. Unfortunately for me they’re fairly big things – ones which I struggle to overlook.
In conclusion, I would give this a 2.5 rather than a 3. I couldn’t bring myself to give it just 2 stars, as I really think the inventive idea has plenty of room for growth and development in later installments. Woods obviously has a great imagination, and I think further writing (and a firm edit) will only improve my above issues.
I think I would probably recommend this for a 12-15 yr age group – I could really see this working for them. For me there just wasn’t enough in the way of foundation to keep me anchored.