It’s not that frequently that I reach the conclusion of a book and want to slap the author for not finishing it the way I want to. When it does, though, I have to recognize that they’ve achieved one of the highest goals that any author strives for: engagement.
It took me a lot longer to read K. M. Weiland’s Dreamlander than I would normally take. Perhaps it was because it’s the first time I’ve read a novel of this length on an e-Reader; perhaps it was the personal issues that I was going through during the time I was reading or perhaps it was the time taken to connect minds with a new author – whatever it was, it took me some time to really get into the novel, but the persistence was worth it. Dreamlander is based on an intriguing concept that I’ve found myself wondering at times also: What if our dreams are actually occurring in another world, or parallel universe and our consciousness slips back and forth between the two as we wake and sleep? This isn’t Inception in book form, this is a thought that, when I fall asleep, a completely different character wakes up in another world. When we’re born, we’re born in two places: Earth and this secondary world of Lael, connected by our spirit and witnessing what our other self does in dreams.
One thing I found myself wondering was how to make that work logistically with my sleep patterns. Weiland adds to this by creating a hero: Every so often, one person, a “Gifted” will actually travel between the worlds. Their consciousness from Earth will wake up in Lael, allowing them to, essentially, ‘walk between the worlds.’ Enter Chris Redston: Writer, cynic, skeptic and – frankly – whiny, annoying little brat. Seriously, this might be the other reason why I took so long to actually get through this novel, because almost every time Chris does something I want to slap him, too. Which is why I was surprised that, by the end of the novel, I was so engrossed in the tale and so passionate about seeing things wind up how I wanted them to end.
To do that, you have to care about the characters, you have to love them – and somehow Chris managed to endear himself enough to me by the end of the story that I actually cared what happened to him. This is obviously thanks to some talented writing by Weiland. It’s not easy to make an anti-hero like Chris loveable to the reader – especially when so much of his time is spent trying to convince himself that it’s not real, or that he’s not good enough, or that he can’t succeed. Instead of being the hero that we all wish we could be, Chris Redston is the hero we’d probably turn out to be: Doubtful, insecure and completely lacking in anything resembling confidence.
The story itself is one, like so many in the Fantasy and Science Fiction genres, where the fate of the world is in the balance. There are times where the setting and the ‘almost-apocalypse’ events actually get in the way of things, causing some detachment. I found myself needing to just step back from things a few times, especially throughout the climax – which seemed to go on and on. And on. And on. When you’re riding the crest of a wave for that long, the actual breaking point ends up feeling more like a reprieve than a climax, and this is pretty much what happened with me. Again, maybe this has something to do with the e-Reader against a real book. I didn’t have the same knowledge of the end coming because with a book, you feel those pages under your right thumb getting lower and lower, whereas there’s nothing with an e-Reader, but what I found was that the last few chapters were just this cacophony of excitement. It was a little overwhelming to try and deal with so much happening, and no time for me, as the reader, to breathe.
Nonetheless, Dreamlander is a story that succeeds in what I consider to be the important aspects of writing: It engages the audience, it contains relatable (if sometimes frustrating) characters, and it makes you think beyond just the words you’re reading. At the end of the day, I enjoyed it – and that’s probably the most important thing of all.
All up: 3/5 Quills.
Buy Dreamlander on Amazon.com