The Waking Dreamer by J.E. Alexander
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Good news and bad news. The good news is that the prose wasn’t purple and the plot wasn’t a sea of surrealist drecks as the book description led me to believe. The bad news is that the hero was TSTL and the romance was insta-love. In short: it was a stereotypical YA fiction. Well, the writing is a few notches higher than average, not that it helps.
+ the hero
The story started off with a chapter that really should have been a prologue and not the first chapter. The second chapter was where the story finally began, with the hero’s 3rd person viewpoint. It began with Emmett on an impromptu road trip to Florida, across the country, to find his birth mother. He wanted answers and he wanted to escape his bleak life as an abandoned and neglected orphan. I totally get that, but what I don’t get is why of all times did he suddenly decide to do it less than two weeks before his 18th birthday. How hard it was to just wait until he turn 18 to do it then? He just took the car without his guardian’s permission for the road trip and a real plan. The budget for the trip; he thinks he budget. I think he’s deluded himself into thinking it’s a budget. Basically, it’s like he just woke up one day and out of nowhere decided to go on a self-discovery mission because gosh darn it, he just felt like it, like one would feel the urge to scratch one’s ass because it’s itchy. As I read further into the story, I found out I didn’t need to get anything. Dude was just fucking dumb as a bag of rocks. *facedesk*
Emmett never asked all the questions that he needed to ask, especially when he later found out how important he was in the world of magic. He barely asked a third of the questions in my mind that I thought he should have asked, not just for him, but also for the reader. Oh. My. Fucking. God! He wanted answers and there in front of him were people who can answer them. Why was he not asking them? ASK THEM! I understood the characters were actively on the run for their lives, but there were down times.
Worse, Emmett was never anything but a burden to the people trying to save him and save the world. The least he could have done was to ask how he could help the evil-fighting magic-users as they ran for the lives because they were outnumbered and underpowered. Hello?!!! These people are trying to save your life! Ask for a gun or some magic weapon thingy or, hell, even a fucking first-aid kit to carry. For fuck’s sake.
+ the romance
But oh no, it doesn’t stop there. The nail in the coffin was that he had to go and be infatuated with Amala. She’s attractive and kickass and he’s a teenage boy and a dude in distress; I get it. But love at first sight and jealous of Amala’s best friend, Keiran? Emmett was slowly dying of poison and needed to receive an antidote from someone who was very far away and very inconveniently available. He needed to get his fucking priorities straight.
Thankfully, it was only one-sided on his end.
+ the other characters
As for the other characters, I never connected with any of them. It was because Emmett was too self-absorbed. Since the story was told strictly in his viewpoint, there was perceptible limit to how much the reader was allowed to get to know the other characters. Not that it would have made a difference if there were other viewpoints because most of characters died as soon they were introduced. Yikes, deaths and deaths everywhere. The book really hammered the fact that things were deadly serious, that the fate of humanity was at risk... if only for the reader. The strange thing was that only a few of the characters (the good guys) were affected by the deaths; the rest were not. Hazrat and his faction didn’t seem to digest the news that their peers were dying and the world was going into the dumper. Helloooo, evil abounds. Shouldn’t some preparation for war be in order?
+ the world building
For a book packed with action, the pace was rather slow, particularly in the beginning. And the reason for that was not the occasional dream shit; it was because of the poor world building. I kept waiting to be clued in to what was going on and to learn about the world of magic. The book never went further beyond telling the reader the outline of the world building, and it was very stingy even just telling the reader of the bare basics. Bad guys there, good guys here. Here are factions of the good guys. Here is a gist of what Druids and Bards are. And... yup, that was about it. Twilight, a generic vampire and werewolf paranormal YA fiction, had more world building in half of the book than this book ever had; that’s how scant and bad this book’s world building was. Eugh.
+ the ending
The ending was cliche. I never mind the trope where the hero at the last minute oh-so-conveniently discovers his latent power as the Chosen One and unleashes it to banish evil (temporarily if it’s book 1 like this book is). In fact, it’s a guilty pleasure of mine. Nothing like an old-fashioned battle of Good versus Evil and Good prevails. However, in this book, it was vexing because of how utterly useless Emmett was for the entire book. Yeah, NOW he decide to be useful. Better late than never.
I rate The Waking Dreamer 2-stars for it was okay. While the hero was TSTL and the romance insta-love, I have read far worse when it comes to stereotypical YA fiction. Also, it was a fitting read to celebrate Halloween because of its horror elements. There is your silver lining.
It’s kind of a shame because the story had potential, the cover is gorgeous, and the book website is one of the best book websites I’ve seen. The efforts to make this book great were apparent. Of course, it is only book 1 so maybe things will improve. But, eh, I’m not holding my breath. Improvement rarely happens in stereotypical YA fictions.
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