Lisa McMann, Author . Simon Pulse $15.99 (210p) ISBN 978-1-416
The trick to getting hooked on this highly satisfying first novel is to look past its disjointed opening. The initial chapters consist of flashbacks into which are woven a series of repetitive scenes wherein Janie Hannagan is unwillingly sucked into others’ dreams and nightmares, and suffers debilitating side effects. But as soon as McMann establishes Janie’s strange skill, she throws just the right teen-centric ingredients into the story to propel it forward and grab readers. Tough and strong Janie, now 17, seems totally independent, charting a future that will lead away from her welfare mother’s alcoholism. Her turbulent relationship with Cabel, the unwashed stoner boy-turned-handsome, pulsates with sexual tension—problematized by Janie’s knowledge of his insistent dreams about killing a man. But then Cabel learns to communicate his desires to Janie through lucid dreaming at just about the same time that Janie finds out that she can influence the dreams she enters. The plot twists keep coming, even if one or two are shopworn, and the writing has a Caroline Cooney—like snap that’s hard to resist. Ages 14-up.
Reviewed on: 03/31/2008