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River of Dreams: 09/05/20
River of Dreams by Jan Nash is a YA fantasy about a sister trying to rescue her brother from a paranormal induced coma. After a series of nightmares and daytime hallucinations, Finn Driscoll learns she comes from a long line of dreamwalkers, travelers in the river of dreams.
Her brother, Noah, was too until something got him during one of his walks. With help from an adult family friend, and a friend from high school, Finn learns how to harness her power. The good and the bad of this novel is that no time is wasted on waiting for Finn to figure out what's going on. The bad is that the book has long passages, sometimes entire chapters of dream sequences that are rendered in a hard to read italic type face.
The mechanism for dreamwalking and how Finn runs the risk of losing herself in the river of dreams, reminds me of The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas (2006), but with a more direct path. And that direct path, minus the required dream imagery, is what makes a potentially interesting fantasy into something as dry as a "what I did for my summer vacation" presentation.
One interesting coincidental detail with my recent reading, is the use of malum as the name of the entity going after dreamwalkers. I'm drawn immediately to the comparison with Malamander by Thomas Taylor. Here, though, the Latin word for evil is used for an entity that is the immortal embodiment of evil. It's an obvious word choice and nothing beyond agreeing that, yup, he's evil, is done with the word choice.
Essentially this novel takes the narrative equivalent of an interstate freeway. Finn discovers she has powers. She has dreams that tell her what happened to her brother. His powers are confirmed. She learns how to use her powers and gets help from friends and family. She finds her brother. She finds the malum. There's a battle. She wins. The end. It's a boring, direct adventure.
Finn's journey also happens to sit in the road narrative spectrum. Finn wants to protect her brother against the monster who has taken up residence in the river of dreams: a classic scarecrow/minotaur paring (99). The river of dreams is a utopic place, meaning it's one outside of reality (FF). The route she takes is the maze, in fact the specific maze (CC) is described in length in the book. The maze is similar to the one in Three Years with the Rat by Jay Hosking (2017). To summarize, River of Dreams is the tale of a scarecrow going after a minotaur in utopia via the maze (99FFCC).