Dreamfall by Amy Plum
Summary from book cover:
Sleep comes easily for most people — but its an impossible dream for Cata, Fergus, and the five other teens who volunteered to take part in a radical new treatment. They suffer from devastating insomnia and are desperate for help. So desperate that they’re willing to undergo an experimental procedure that has only ever been tested on one other patient. They’re supposed to be the beta group. But this time, nothing goes as planned….
Soon after the seven of them are put under, catastrophe strikes, and they find themselves thrown together into a shared dreamworld with no memory of the experiment or any idea how they got there. As Cata and the others try to figure out what’s happened to them, they come to the terrifying realization that they are trapped in a place where their worst nightmares come to life. Hunted by creatures from their deepest, darkest imaginations and tormented by terrible secrets they’d rather keep buried, the teens are forced to band together to face their biggest fears. And if these dreamers can’t find a way to defeat them, they won’t have a hope of ever waking up.
If you don’t already suffer from insomnia, this book might just keep you up all night. It is a page turner with a suspenseful story line and amazing writing. The characters are well written and each very different from one another. The nightmares they find themselves in are terrifying and believable.
The Story is told through three of the characters, Cata and Fergus are two of the subjects in the experiment and then Jamie who is a premed student who was allowed to watch the experiment by the two doctors conducting it. In this way, we get both what is happening in the Dreamfall and what is happening in the real world. Cata is a girl who lived through an abusive childhood and is now suffering from PTSD and night terrors. She is a great character and many times I wanted to wrap her up in a big hug, you feel so sorry for her. Fergus has narcolepsy and a whole host of other issues that go along with that. He is also very likable and sweet. Jamie is the one narrator we don’t learn a whole lot about, except that he is pretty smart because he sees things and figures out somethings that the Drs. in charge of the experiment just don’t see. He is the anchor in the real world that the story really needs. He also fills in some of the backgrounds on the subjects as he reads through their reports.
The other subjects are also an interesting bunch. Ant is the youngest and the quietest. Ants nightmare is also one of the worst ones they go through. Bethann has anorexia and other issues that keep her up at night. George, short for Georgina, is at times the leader of the group. She often figures out what is going on and what to do about it. Remi is an African refugee also suffering from PTSD. Sinclair is the one who talks about himself the least. He is a charmer and a little bit of a sleaze, trying to cozy up to all of the girls. We also don’t know much about Brett, until closer to the end.
The dreams that they all experience are intense and at times scary. They fall under the usual categories of chase, falling, being killed, seeing others killed and other types of nightmares. They are so well written that they almost make you think that they are real. According to the author’s note at the back of the book may of them were based on real nightmares that she either experienced or people she knew did. The science behind the experiment is also very realistic and based in scientific theory.
Overall this was an amazing read which I had a hard time putting down. I thought it was a standalone when I started it, but soon realized that it wasn’t. So the downside is that I now have to wait a year to find out how Cata and Fergus and the others make it out of the Dreamfall.