When I first read the synopsis for Dreamfall, I knew that I was going to love the book. The whole idea of a group of teenagers suffering from problems preventing them from getting sleep getting trapped inside a dreamlike world full of their most terrifying nightmares not only intrigued me, but it was something that I pretty much needed to read. I’m all about weird, creepy kinds of things like this.
This is also my very first book by Amy Plum, although I have heard of her other books and I actually own a copy of After the End.
To start off the review, have you seen the cover for this thing? It’s not only creepy, but the colors and the design are a genius idea, perfectly fitting the story within the pages of the book. I love the cover – it’s probably one of my absolute favorite book covers of 2017 (if not all time).
Dreamfall follows a group of teenagers as they undergo an experimental procedure that they believe will help cure their insomnia. Since the first test subject to the experiment seemed to handle it okay, they reached out the study to another group. They are all there for a variety of different reasons – different things that are keeping them awake at night. Each one who is a part of the study has a different story, but they are all there for the same result – to finally be able to sleep again.
“No one could possibly understand unless they had a sleep disorder themselves. They wouldn’t know that being so tired during the day that you can barely function and then wide-awake at night can make you crazy. Literally.”
However, once the group of teens that are taking part in the study find themselves asleep in the lab, they start having dreams while they are under observation and the electric pulses are going through their brains. They don’t know what’s going on with their actual bodies – they only know what they are seeing in their dreams – and those things are not sunshine and rainbows.
When they begin to find each other one by one, they realize that they are living through each other’s most terrifying nightmares – from scary churches to menacing clowns, these nightmares threaten their lives – for real. When they start realizing that maybe when you die in the dream, you die in real life, they start to wonder how long until they will be able to wake up.
As they go through dreams, they get to know each other and their deepest fears, and they end up forming a bond and attempting to work together in order to survive.
But something even more sinister than nightmares is at work here, threatening the group from ever making it out alive.
Dreamfall is told through three different alternating points of view – our main characters Cata, Fergus, who are subjects in the experiment, and Jaime, who is an observer over the experiment. I love how the author included details from Jaime’s point of view, because it allows the reader to get a great sense of what is going on outside the dreamworld, whereas Cata and Fergus’s characters are narrating what is going on inside the dream world. It’s a pretty interesting setup, and it really works.
At first I thought it was going to be a bit confusing, hopping and out of the dream world, but it wasn’t – it was actually a really easy story to follow. There are a few characters in the dream world with Cata and Fergus, but not an overwhelming amount, and they all had their very own personalities, allowing us to get to know them and form opinions. None of them were your traditional cookie cutter side characters – they all had their own problems and a depth that made them really interesting to read about.
While the teens are fighting for their lives inside the dream world, living through each other’s worst nightmares, on the outside, in the experiment room, we learn about them as Jaime goes through their files and reads up on them. We learn a lot about them through their files, and while some ends are left loose, others are kind of tied up and we discover their backstories.
This book does end on a major cliffhanger, so I’m really excited to read the next one. While I did find the ending to be a tad bit confusing, I had to re-read it a few times before it finally sunk in. I don’t think it was any fault of the author, though – I think maybe I just hadn’t paid close enough attention to detail in the beginning of the book.
If you love thrillers and books that make you squirm (and that may bring on a nightmare or two), do not miss out on Dreamfall. It’s such a fun book (and pretty darn frightening at some points – which is why I didn’t read this one before bed).