Note for those of you who care about such things: I did receive a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.
As is true for way too many books that I read, I went into this one with absolutely no clue what I was diving into. The author provided a blurb…I hate reading blurbs. There seem to be two different covers for this thing, but neither of which really caused me to know what was going on…although, the anime one does help me think that this would make for a great anime film.
But, I really have very little to say before digging into the proper review. Simply put, I didn’t know what I was getting into, and like most situations in which that occurs, that ended up being a very good thing. I guess the title in combination with what I’m guessing is the older cover (as well as the fact that I’ve been coming across a ton of romance novels lately) had me guessing this was yet another piece of chick-lit. I’m happy to say, it’s not…at least not in the traditional sense.
On to the review:
Ashlynn’s Dreams is a difficult one to describe, as through its usage of journal entries and letters causes it to feel almost like a dream in and of itself. We start out the tale knowing one simple thing, two girls were kidnapped. We don’t know why, we don’t know where, and, ultimately, we don’t really know if it was a good thing or not. It’s through this positioning the reader in the place of the narrators (primarily the two kidnapped girls, Jillian (aka Ashlynn) and Danielle, that we are allowed just a glimpse into this curious world of scientific experiments and intriguing parentage. And ultimately, we are led on a final adventure to get these kids all free from their prisons.
Gilbert’s ability to craft imaginative ideas is out in full force here, something that is very important when one of your main characters has the ability to not only step into other people’s dreams, but modify them (don’t fear, this is no Inception rip off). Gilbert does an amazing job of telling us a lot about the different characters in this book simply by letting us see what consumes them as they dream. But dreams aren’t the only place in which Gilbert’s imagination shines. She has built a very compelling world of scientific breakthroughs, showing the possibilities of what could happen, should man conquer the human genome and truly be able to bring us to our fullest potentials.
This book is a great start to what I’m guessing is a fantastical series (known as Devya’s Children). In fact, the only reason this book gets a middling rating from me is that it sags somewhat in the middle under the weight of a hefty dose of exposition and character development. A story that brings you in with intrigue and keeps you going with fantasy, suddenly stops to look at itself in order to really bring home the motivations of its characters, slowing down the entire thing in order to tell us things that I believe were already done rather succinctly through dreams and/or actions. Of course, not having read any of the other books in the series, there is definitely a possibility that these items are in play for future purposes.
Luckily, the book does a great job of setting up the story, that even the most fickle of readers will stick around to see how everything plays out. And, from a quick glimpse at book two in the series, it appears that Gilbert moves forward with what really works in this book, Jillian’s exploration of dreams.