Book Review: Dare to Dream by Carys Jones

Carys was kind enough to send me a copy of the Kindle edition of this book to review.

In Dare to Dream we meet Maggie Trafford, a 14-year-old girl in a smallish city in England who is plagued by disturbing dreams.  The book is done in two parts, with the first part being a slower read than the second.

Maggie’s world is quickly established: she’s one of five children, with no father in the picture, and an unemployed mother who is not doing much mothering that I can see. With the exception of Maggie, the children are selfish, uninterested in bettering themselves, and obnoxious. It’s hard to feel much for them, or to feel that Maggie has much connection with any of them.  Her mother is just as self-absorbed as Maggie’s sisters, and so beaten down by her disappointments that she’s given up on trying to improve either her life or the lives of her children.

Maggie’s best friend is Dawn. We are told that they’ve been best friends since they were about 8, but the friendship never feels that deep to me. Dawn comes across as vapid and self-absorbed most of the time. Maggie’s envy of her friend’s family’s better socio-economic adds to the feeling that this isn’t much of a friendship, no matter how many times we are told otherwise. In fact, the relationships in the story all suffer from too much telling and not enough showing in the writing.

The premise is intriguing. Maggie’s nightmares show the end of the world. They are vivid and creepy, especially once Maggie actually begins to be harmed while in the nightmares. No one believes her when she tells them that these are more than nightmares but Maggie grows increasingly certain that they are prophecies and that they need to be acted upon. Finally she does take action, bringing along Dawn and a boy from school named Andy (who has a crush on her that she’s unaware of). The book’s pace picks up a bit when the teens finally take action.  This is part 2 of the book, their journey to find safety from whatever or whoever is destroying the world.

Maggie vacillates between confidence and nearly crippling self-doubt, which can be irritating but I kept reminding myself that this character was supposed to be a 14-year-old girl and such swings are a normal part of being a teenager. The same vacillations plagued Andy and Dawn. The book ends in such a way that I assume a sequel or perhaps even a series is in the works.

This book gets three stars because, in spite of some clunky writing in places (here’s an example: “She perched herself on the end and gazed over at Mrs. Grimes who herself sat in a matching arm chair.”), I am intrigued by the premise and curious about what will happen next.