First I'd like to point out the fact that this book is written in the typical, humorous style that I've come to love from Batson. His characters are unique, the scenery is delightful, and the implied Christian undertones are most welcome. I've noted that a few reviewers have claimed the introduction was rough or "typical fantasy style" - I, however, found it wonderful. We were quickly introduced to the main character (Archer) and his protagonist (The Nightmare Lord); we were also thrown instantly into the dreamscape and became acquainted with its rules and regulations.
There wasn't any bumbling about, nor were there any useless bits of fluff and drivel that didn't help support the overall plot. This I was very appreciative of - as a wide reader of many different genres, I often find myself skimming past silly rabbit trails authors thought important to their tale. Let me tell you this - it is a very rare thing for an author to be able to get away with a good, decent rabbit trail and not lose the interest of the reader :) So thumbs up to WTB for avoiding them altogether!
They could no more catch Archer than a sloth could leap up and grab a soaring hawk. --Dreamtreaders, pg 9Honestly, the simple beauty in this analogy is what defines my favourite property of the story - the humour. It's priceless. And gosh golly, pairing the imagery of a leaping sloth to that of a soaring hawk creates the most delightful imagery in my mind! I. Adore. It.
Also, Razz - I cannot begin to explain how ecstatic I was to see Batson created such a delightful little character! My only wish was that he gave her a little more dialogue - seriously, she was radical :D
The Christian undertones are undeniably there if you look for them. To those people who've implied that Batson's avoiding the gospel, I tell ya'll you're definitely blind. The entire tale is an allegory, most cleverly wrought. *quirks eyebrow* I was most impressed. Perhaps the implied statements pass over the minds of younger individuals, but they're clear as an exploding supernova to me. So huzzah to Batson! He did a great job!
Now, I do have one disagreement to make (a disagreement hedged by several very important points). Amazon advertises an age range of 8-12yrs for the recommended readers. While the writing style is definitely geared towards young children, the content is more suiting 16+. My personal opinion? I would never let a 12 yo read this book, even though I absolutely love Wayne Thomas Batson. Why? Let me explain.
First there are some scenes that are unfitting for an 8 year old's eyes. To avoid writing a spoiler, I will simply say - the nightmarish properties of the novel are quite nightmarish. It brought to mind the underwater island scene in Isle of Fire, involving the Merchant (for any of you who've read the book); however, it's not even close to the intenseness we read in Ghost. Still, it's not what I'd consider kid material. Now in my opinion, this quality would bump up the age rating to 13+... but there's one more hitch.
Batson goes into a light discussion of lucid dreaming. Let it be said now - this is not a topic to play around with. Lucid dreaming is very much so a practice of some individuals today, and getting wrapped up into it is terribly dangerous. I didn't learn about this concept until I was hmm, 16 or 17; without much moral guidance I found myself rather enchanted by the idea of being able to control ones dreams. The problem - it leads to a lot of scary, cult-y stuff. Needless to say, I'm a strong supporter of bringing awareness to the dangers of lucid dreaming. In part, this is because of my own beliefs.
Why is this a hitch if Batson deals with it in a way that say "No, this is bad, don't do it - see the dangers here"? Well, children are insatiably curious creatures. Opening their eyes to a danger in the current age we live in (e.g. access to powerful search engines, forums, and so on and so forth) is a recipe for disaster. Now there are exceptions - I know several 12 year olds that have the minds of 16 year olds simply because of the situations they've been through in life. However, speaking of children as a whole, I personally wouldn't subject their minds to potentially dangerous material.
Therefore, I feel that by the age of 16, an individual will be mature enough to determine right from wrong and have the aptitude to steer clear from the temptations of that which is morally unsound.
That being said, Dreamtreaders is a wonderfully exciting book with superb scenery and humour (yes, I repeat myself - it's true). I heartily recommend the adventure to anyone 16+! While the reading level might be aimed at younger individuals, I still feel the tale is delightful and enjoyable and I look forward to the next book :)
Signed with leaves and fruit,