Thursday, February 14, 2013

Book Review: Dreamstate: Dark Eyes Volume #1

Dreamstate: Dark Eyes Volume #1
Every night, as eleven-year-old Daniel Knox falls asleep, he has the dream again. It is a dream filled with grand forests, small towns, bizarre creatures, and stone castles—but it is also a place where sinister horrors lurk just out of sight. Through a chance encounter with a mysterious girl, Daniel finds himself swept up in a war. Hunted by a dark god, he must learn to master the powers within himself or see his dream world conquered by evil.
(Cover & Description from Goodreads. Source.)
Publisher: Trevor Zawalich
Publication Date: November 30, 2012
Kat's Review
I didn't know what to expect when I started reading this book.  I do read a lot of YA, but not so much middle grade, or books with protagonists this young.  As I was reading, I was actually reading it with an eye to whether I would let my son read this when he reaches 11 or 12 years of age.  The answer is yes.
While the concept of the book is pretty straightforward- a young boy lands in a dream world whenever he falls asleep, discovering a world filled with strange animals, dangerous foes and increasingly difficult challenges- the execution of the story is quite well done.  The world created by the author contains enough that is similar to the protagonist's real world that he can navigate it, but has enough of the fantastical to make it interesting for the reader.  The main character, Daniel, is a typical young boy who finds it difficult to fit into his life at school and has few friends.  That he is a critical piece in the fight against evil in his dream world is every kid's fantasy.  It is the one place he feels he belongs.
I enjoyed the friendship that grew between Daniel and Leerah.  It was great to see a strong female character, and to watch her teach Daniel how to be strong and protect himself.  The friendship was natural, and there was no hesitation with letting a female teach a male how to fight.  I know that this shouldn't be a big deal in a book, but it is, especially in a book with young main characters.  Leerah isn't just a secondary character, she plays an important role and is Daniel's only real friend.  The relationship was also age-appropriate.  There was no sexual tension, no kissing, no viewing Leerah as a sex symbol.  The relationship may change as the books progress and the characters age, but for an 11 year old boy, his friendship with Leerah was just a friendship, the way it would have been if Leerah had been written as a boy. 
The world-building is quite extensive, but not overwhelming, and pieces are revealed over the course of the book.  There are still questions that remain, and secrets to uncover, but the story was easy to follow and the world was drawn in good detail.  There was enough action to keep a young reader interested, without veering into the violence for the sake of violence cliché.
Rating: A Good Read
As I mentioned at the beginning, I don't usually read books with protagonists this young, but I enjoyed this one.  It would make a good read for a pre-teen or a teen, looking for a fantasy book but not quite ready for some of the more adult ones with a ton of sex and violence.  I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this series.

I received a copy of this book for review in return for an honest review.

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