I was pleased at the opportunity from Mother Talk to review, with my 12-year-old daughter, another young adult book: The Dark Dreamweaver, by Nick Ruth.
The storyline sounded entertaining (if quite familiar--young boy sucked into an unfamiliar magical place to do battle with Evil), and we dove right in.
Okay. I read the back of the book and evidently this story has received several awards and honors, so I was feeling pretty good about it.
Turns out that after finishing the book, I'm sort of on the fence.
But we'll start with the good stuff, since the not-so-good stuff could be corrected.
Here's what: A young boy, David, is having nightmares in which a robe-clad creature is starring...and the creature appears to be evil. The local news reports that people are having terrible nightmares everywhere...a Mystery!
David begins hearing voices whilst awake...and discovered that his caterpillar (which hatched from one of the butterfly eggs he'd collected) was actually a transformed wizard, and the tiny wizard was stuck in an accelerated life cycle of the Monarch butterfly.
In order to help save the wizard AND the wizard's homeland, David must go on an adventure to stop the Evil Wizard from making all mankind suffer from nightmares forever.
My daughter really loved it. Since reading her first wizarding/fantasy book about You-Know-Who, she's really into that genre. That's okay with me, I like it too. When she was finished I asked her what she thought and she said, "I loved it! It was exciting and funny and HEY MOM, now I have an idea on how to search for butterfly eggs! We should go find some and see if we can hatch them."
Good! Educational, bonus points. Got the kid excited about nature, more bonus points.
I liked the storyline pretty well; it was entertaining with a few fun twists and turns, cute (and quite unusual) characters, and some funny dialogue.
I hate to say anything negative--I think your youngsters and tweens, if they love to read simply for the joy of the story, will enjoy it.
As an adult I have to say that if this were my book...well...let's just say it needs a good polish before being shelf-ready, in my opinion.
It's rather choppy in parts, and large amounts of background are crammed into two or three pages...it doesn't do the story justice and doesn't flow very smoothly at all. All that info was a little overwhelming all at once.
The most disturbing part was a 5-paragraph monologue from the caterpillar wizard (pages 22-23), wherein each paragraph ended with quotation marks. This was somewhat confusing for me when I finally got to David's part again.
Like this (the caterpillar is speaking the whole time):
"Of course not! But you couldn't know that."
"Let me start at the beginning. In Remin, there are certain people who have the innate ability to..."
"A man named Thane was one of the Dreamweavers..."
Plus there was some other extraneous punctuation throughout, but since I like to use extra punctuation now and then, I tried not to be too picky.
But that? With all the extra quotation marks? A problem for me because I expect published books to be mostly error free.
Overall I think the book is pretty good and if it were to get a good editorial fix-up then I would definitely recommend that your kids try it out.