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Review: Dreamland

Dreamland by Alyson Noel was released in the U.S. on September 13, 2011 in paperback, audio and eBook formats. It is currently available to order online in all formats at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Published by Square Fish, a division of Macmillan, the print edition is 224 pages.

Dreamland is the third book in the Riley Bloom series by author Alyson Noel.

Goodreads description:

Riley’s finding that the afterlife can be a lonely place when all you do is focus on work. So she goes to the place where dreams happen, hoping to find a way to contact her sister, Ever.

She meets the director, who tells her about the two ways to send dreams. As a Dream Jumper, a person can jump into a dreamer’s dream, share a message, and participate. As a Dreamweaver, an entire dream can be created in a studio and sent to the dreamer. But Dreamweaving was outlawed decades ago, and the studio was boarded up.

Thinking it’s her only way to reach out to her sister, Riley goes in search of the old studio. There she finds a ghost boy, who’s been creating and sending nightmares to people for years. In order to stop him and reach out to Ever, Riley is going to have to confront and overcome her own fears.

***

Everyone seems to be getting on with their afterlives except Riley Bloom. She’s lonely. And now that the Council has asked her to take some time off from Soul Catching, she doesn’t quite know what to do with herself.

So when she learns that there’s a way she can visit her sister, Ever, in dreams, she jumps at the chance, literally. But when dream jumping doesn’t prove immediately successful, she is frustrated.

Not being one who is too easily discouraged, when she meets a boy who hints that dream jumping isn’t the only way, she is quick to make a deal with him. But his way has a hidden cost. And Riley may learn that sometimes it’s better to wait for the things you want.

***

Dreamland is a sweet, fun and absolutely delightful adventure in author Alyson Noel’s middle grade series about Riley Bloom.

In Dreamland, the third book in the series, Riley is asked to take a break from Soul Catching. But instead of relaxing as the Council has suggested, she embarks on a new adventure on her own, without Bodhi to guide her… or hold her back as Riley would like to believe.

In an attempt to contact her sister, she meets a boy who is clearly in need of help, but in her haste to impress the Council and to find a way to grow up, she overlooks some of life’s most valuable lessons.

In this third installment, Riley will learn that impatience does have a price and that she isn’t always right.

Riley is an adorable and charming young girl, who is also impetuous and overly enthusiastic, especially when it comes to what she believes to be right. She is single-minded in her focus, stubborn and overly self-confident, but she isn’t above learning from her mistakes. And its her sunny disposition and endearing personality that make her lovable where she otherwise might not be.

Dreamland is a quick, fun and light read with a few important messages woven in. As this is a story for a younger reader, the adventure the main character embarks upon is less complex than one aimed at a someone slightly older, but the story is incredibly heartwarming and enjoyable, and one that readers can easily fall in love with.

The book also includes a peek at the next book in the series, Whisper, in which Riley, Bodhi and Buttercup head off to help Soul Catch a Roman Gladiator.

Reviewer gives this book…

On a personal note:

Although this is the third book in the Riley Bloom series by author Alyson Noel, it’s the first book in the series that I’ve read.

While it took a few minutes to get familiarized with some of the characters, because I had read the author’s Immortals series I knew Riley’s circumstance and so it was fairly easy to get up to speed with the story.

I actually think listening to the audiobooks made this much more enjoyable than it might have been if I’d read it, simply because it is a story aimed at a much younger middle-grade reader and doesn’t have that same level of complexity I’m used to.

Kathleen McInerney did such an awesome job reading for Riley that I can’t imagine Riley’s voice any other way. She made Riley absolutely adorable where she might otherwise have come across as a pesky younger sister.

I did love this story. It was sweet and fun and it made me smile at times and grimace at some of those “ick” moments the author threw in when describing Satchel’s unfortunate situation.

And I did love Riley. She is trying so hard to grow up, be independent and find a place for herself in the afterlife. She’s at times over-confident, and can really be a pain in the backside, but she is a sympathetic character and her positive attitude and her charm are what won me over.

I would have liked to see more resolution on the Satchel front, as he made a rather quick exit, but I’m hopeful he’ll make an appearance later in the series.

If I discovered this as a young girl I would totally have related to Riley and her frustration at being stuck in pre-teen status and would definitely be hooked on this series.

***

Whisper, book four in the Riley Bloom series, is due out on April 24, 2012.

About the audiobook:

Audiobook: Unabridged Compact Discs

Length: 4 Discs/Approximately 5 hours

Read by: Kathleen McInerney

Audiobook rating: 5/5

Kathleen McInerney did a spectacular job in narrating Dreamland. She not only captured Riley Bloom’s voice and personality perfectly, but she really brought Riley and this story to life.

Ms. McInerney was able to create very distinct voices for Bodhi and Satchel, allowing their individual personalities to really come through. And the voices she did use to portray both of these secondary characters were believable and enjoyable and not at all awkward for these two teen boys.

The narration was well-paced, clear and easy to follow and engage with even when listening in a less than quiet public environment.

And it was her narration that made this story so much more enjoyable for me to follow along with as a well-above middle-grade listener.

***

Book trailer for Dreamland:

This review is based on an audiobook I received from the publisher, Macmillan Audio, in exchange for my honest review.

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