Fifteen-year-old Archer Keaton has the ability to enter and explore his dreams. He is a Dreamtreader, one of three selected from each generation. Their mission: to protect the waking world from the Nightmare Lord who dwells beyond the Slumber Gate. But as Archer’s dreams become more dangerous and threatening, so too does his waking life.
In this fast-paced conclusion to the exciting fantasy trilogy, the dream world and the waking world bleed into each other when a rift is formed between the two. People in the real world suddenly find their waking lives resemble their wildest dreams. Now it’s up to Archer and his fellow Dreamtreaders to race to reverse the rift before too much damage is done and to battle Archer’s ex-best friend, Kara, who sits on the throne of the Nightmare Lord. Kara is building an army of her own. Will Archer be strong enough to stand against her?
(The following review originally appeared on Straight Off the Page)
I do think the concept for the series is wonderfully creative – a young teen is part of a very select group of people set apart for a specific purpose, defeating the Nightmare Lord before he can wreak havoc on the Waking World. Let me be the first to assure you; this isn’t some cutesy, mamby-pamby dream villain either. The dude is evil. The other villains that pop up over the course of the series are just as evil … and they must be stopped – with greater urgency as the books progress. By War for the Waking World, and after several surprising and imaginative twists, we are at critical mass.
The spiritual analogies are subtle, much like Narnia or LOTR, but they are clearly present. I love finding parallels and deeper meanings when I read speculative fiction! Besides the obvious themes of good and evil, there is a distinct emphasis in book 3 on the manipulative nature of our enemy as well as his role as our accuser. And just for good measure, here’s my personal favorite message in War for the Waking World – avoid television, read a book. Seriously. You never know when it might save your intelligence. 🙂
On the other hand, I just couldn’t stay engaged. Dreamtreader (book 1) drops you in the middle of action already in progress and doesn’t explain what’s happening. In fact, I wondered briefly if either a) I had mistakenly assumed this was the first book or b) there was another prologue somewhere that my copy was missing or c) Archer was playing a video game. Slowly, the pieces began to come together, but I didn’t like being confused and left without answers. Unlike Harry Potter or The Chronicles of Narnia or even the LOTR books, there was no “fish out of water” character that needed the back story explained (well, except me). And the narrator wasn’t sympathetic to my predicament. The result? The author left the readers to catch up on their own, which in my opinion can lead to needless frustration, confusion, and disconnect. Each book begins this way, building off the previous ending, so readers really do need to follow the series in order.
Additionally, the characters seemed flat and I frequently found myself irritated at their lack of reaction/emotion to the situations in which they found themselves. Along those same lines, the narrative also felt flat. It tended to tell me details rather than showing them to me, though I do feel that this much improved in War for the Waking World.
Bottom Line: Overall, I think that the Dreamtreaders series would be an excellent choice for children who fall into the older elementary through middle grades age brackets. They will enjoy the geared-for-their-level humor and writing style and will be able to identify easily with the main and secondary characters. I hesitate to recommend the series for adults; I just don’t feel it will hold their interest. On the other hand, reading the books together – parent and child – would be a wonderful way to incorporate the series into a family library.
(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)
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Wayne Thomas Batson is an American writer. He has been married to his wife, Mary Lu, for seventeen years and has four children. He currently works as a teacher at Folly Quarter Middle School teaching sixth grade English language arts and is the youngest of four children. His most recent series, Dreamtreaders published by Thomas Nelson Inc (2014), is a modern-day paranormal YA adventure dealing with the subject of dreams.