For me, this book falls into the unusual books category, in both style and content. It’s a serious of diary entries written by Michael Thorn about his experiences in drug assisted lucid dreaming. He details the changes that take place in his and his friends’s lives as the dreaming takes hold of him like a drug.
There isn’t a strong plot, and for some this lack will be too great for their taste. It’s a character driven novel and what holds the entries together and keeps you reading is the question of what is going to happen to these people. The writing hints early on at dire consequences from the lucid dreaming ‘vacations’ and the suggestion increases once Dorothy is introduced. The recollections amble along, and my attention is held primarily by the strength of the prose, the voice of the central character, and the fact that the author teases out the answers we are waiting for.
The character of Henry, the drug dealer who gets the drug they need for the assisted sleeping, provides a little tension as well. We feel Micheal’s distrust of him and when that distrust proves warranted, there is the question of what is to be done about him. Again, the author drops hints that suggest that something dire happens, and once again we read on to find out what it is, even while still waiting for the answer of the previous question ie what happens to Dorothy, and the one before that, ie what happens to all of them. The author is a master hint-dropper. He creates mystery, where there is none, and it is just enough to give the book a sense of direction.
Michael’s character is very strong and his observations on life are interesting, but the other characters are not particularly well-fleshed out. The lack of detail in characterisation is, however, reflective of Micheal’s increasing dissociation with the real world. The focus in this journal-style novel is solely on Micheal and his perceptions.
Though Dorothy’s story had an expected outcome, the ending of the book was a surprise, and it gave the story the impact it needed to overcome its weaker points.
I had expected more description of the dreams, especially considering the book’s title – which is not at all indicative of the actual story – but in fact we see very little of what Michael experiences while in his extended sleep. The one dream sequence written in the present tense was the best bit of writing in the book and I would have liked to have had read more such sequences.
Overall, this is an interesting, well-written book and, though not gripping, is worth a read. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of Michael’s perception of the world in the light of his growing immersion in the dreamspace.
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