Sunday, March 24, 2013

Dream Weaver, by Su Williams: A Review

Dream Weaver tells the story of Emari Sweet, a seventeen year old “emo” who suffers enormous personal tragedy in her life, over a very short period of time. As she attempts to rebuild her life, she meets Nick, an apparently “young” man, who is, in fact, a Dream Weaver, one of a number of almost immortal beings. Nick sees it as his mission to heal and protect Emari by manipulating her dreams and memories. As love blossoms between them they battle not only Emari’s inner demons, but also the external demons represented by the Wraith, a Dream Weaver that has chosen a darker path.

Su Williams is an emerging writer, targeting a young adult audience with stories involving young protagonists and supernatural beings. It is, first of all, a relief that no vampires are involved. Ms. Williams writes well, most of the time. In fact, some of the writing is extremely good, with an excellent use of language and imagery. At other times, however, sentences can become a little clumsy and words used in jarring ways, as though she is, perhaps, trying a little too hard. The story is not remarkable, although this is only the first in the series, and the writer is necessarily introducing her “creatures” and taking time to create this world and develop these characters. Having said this, the action sequences are written with a high degree of realism and intensity, with great attention to detail and excellent pacing. In contrast, there are dream sequences which are gently and tenderly constructed and have, well, a dream-like quality. There are sections where the momentum is lost, particularly in some of the sequences between Emari and Nick, which are little too long and tend to repeat the same themes. I think that younger readers (of which I am not one) would perhaps welcome one more “action sequence” to balance out the story. I felt that the author stumbled when she first began to introduce the supernatural element (Nick) into the story in Chapter 8. For some reason this chapter is not as well written as most of the others. Perhaps the author was struggling to make Emari’s acceptance of Nick and his story plausible. As a reader, I felt that she accepted the whole idea of Nick too quickly and too easily, particularly given the trauma she has been through.

The characters are generally well-developed. The story is told in the first person by Emari, and Ms. Williams does an excellent job of painting this young woman’s inner life, particularly her struggle with depression and ideas of self-harm. At times, I felt that the Nick character was just a little too good to be true. Nick’s friend and fellow Dream Weaver, Sabre, is very well drawn and, in contrast to Nick, is much more morally ambiguous. I would have liked to hear more of Nick’s back story, and more about his and Sabre’s history together, but this may come in later volumes. Most of the minor characters, including Emari’s best friends Ivy and Jesse, and the young police woman, Molly, who helps Emari, have strong personalities and identities. Even the young puppy that Emari buys to keep her company is given depth and substance! The only characters that lacked depth were Emari’s honorary aunt and uncle: I felt that they were rather plastic.

I think, in general, young readers will welcome this new franchise. They may, as I indicated early, wish for at least one more action sequence and, like me, find the sections in which Emari and Nick are alone together, a little too long and repetitive. Now comes the difficult part: assigning stars. There are parts of this novel that are extremely well-written, and others not so. My inclination is to give it 3.5 stars, but, as there are no half stars in the Amazon scoring system, I have to ask whether it falls above or below that mark. I generally regard a good book as worth 3 stars, a very good book as worth 4, and an excellent book (of which there are very few) as worth 5. I think, in the end, that I would call this a good book, rather than a very good book, and therefore give it 3 stars. I expect that the next in the series may well earn 4, if Ms. Williams can just sustain the high quality writing for a little longer.

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