(Author: Rhys Bowen, C.M. Broyles) + (Year: 2015) + (Goodreads)
Dreamwalker is the first book of the Red Dragon Academy series. I want to stress on the fact that it’s a children’s book and it should be treated as such.
Just in my generation we have witnessed many books stamped as children’s, which have in them enough of well… everything, to make them a favourite read for not only children, but also grown-ups of all ages. Harry Potter is the first series that comes to mind and it very well speaks on its own.
Since “Harry Potter”, it has been hard reading books about magic and especially schools with magical children, without thinking of “Harry Potter” and making unfortunate comparisons. Same goes with reading fantasy and not comparing with Lord of the Rings. It’s hard! But in order to give this book a proper review, I’ll have to push myself to my limits in not comparing.
What happens in Dreamwalker is that we have a strange school with very unusual methods and eventually we find out that some of the pupils are in fact magicians of sorts. They don’t all possess the same abilities, but instead have set roles: Dreamwalker, Traveler, Whisperer and so on.
The seven main characters, among which the narrator is a girl called Addy, are as cliched as they come. Addy is ~special~ and immensely powerful, though we still don’t know the extent of her powers. Raj is a brainiac, who always relies on logic. Pippa is a spoiled brat who wants attention. Celeste: a French princess-wannabe who’s rude and demanding and has no other dreams than to be by her mother’s side and wear her Prada shoes. Gwylum: the lunch lady’s kid, who’s grown up on the school grounds and is shy and closed up. And Sam is a poor kid who’s been in the system for too long, going from one home to another and is not above stealing and begging on the streets. Kobi is from Africa, and everyone assumes that he’s going to be weird. So he speaks weirdly to justify expectations. Not much more is seen from him.
Wow, having written this down, I realized that it’s not only that we have certain personas represented, but also a certain view of countries and what their citizens are like, which is kind of chauvinistic and very rude. The horse-riding rich girl from team UK, the French snob, the Indian math genius, Gwylum(who is not English but Welsh, therefore a provincial character) goes for the cliche of a servant boy(only a hundred years after it became distasteful to call them that), and of course, Addy: a clueless American, who doesn’t even know that you drive in the opposite lanes in the UK. I’m a bit afraid to leave this here, it casts a bad light on a book which has many minuses, but is honestly NOT THAT BAD.
The problem with all of these, aside from the fact that you can see at least two of them in absolutely every cliche story, is that they don’t have many redeeming qualities(in this book at least). The reason for the reader to like them is simply because the authors chose to make them the main characters so you feel like you should find something in them to like.
Since everyone besides Addy is a bit shallowly written, I can mostly comment on her and boy, do I have something to say: She is stupid. I know that it’s not right to say that about kids at the age of twelve, but since she was written by two grown women, I assume in their attempt to make her seem normal, they made her stupid. In the first few chapters when she is with her aunt and when she’s supposed to be mourning, she is mostly bored. She has no hobbies aside from surfing and can’t amuse herself with anything besides her iPod. I remember that at 12 I was reading world classics. She seems to have read just “Alice in Wonderland”. She does not know what or where Wales is, or that there is a Wales, and not “whales”, at all. She doesn’t know what Prada is, which, though not mandatory for kids, is still weird. She goes through a mirror and she still can’t figure out she is in another world, EVEN after she speaks with the locals who do everything but spell out for her that this is not her own world.
Aside from that, it’s easy to get sucked in the story, it’s a typical the-few-good-guys-face-a-terrifying-bad-guy type of thing. For me, the most interesting thing was to find out about the mirror world, about the abilities, about the monsters. Dreamwalker does a good job at explaining those, at least as much as the authors deemed fit for the first book. I honestly loved the world-building, as opposed to the character-building – hence the 3 stars instead of 2. I think I would have loved this if I was still a child, I was not as selective and critical, especially as far as characters go.
While Dreamwalker is not a breakthrough and you shouldn’t expect Harry Potter v.2, if you are into this kind of books, you can give it a try. But I am warning you, don’t expect a character that will warm up your heart or make you feel as part of the story. Actually I think one of the problems is that there are too many main characters and none of them are as explored as they should be.
Should you get it for your kid? Yes, why not.
Should you, as a grown up and a fan of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and the likes read it? If you cannot stop yourself from comparing them, don’t. Otherwise, maybe.
P.S. I admit, I’m going to be waiting for book 2.