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by Robert L. Anderson
Odea can walk people’s dreams. But walking in other’s dreams can be dangerous. Her mother has taught her the rules—never interfere, never be seen, and never walk the same person’s dream more than once.
Odea doesn’t understand her mother’s rules, or why her mother covers every mirror. Odea doesn’t understand her mother’s need to surround herself with clocks. And she definitely doesn’t understand why her mother keeps them on the move. Even though she doesn’t understand her mother, Odea has never questioned her mother’s reasons.
Until Connor moves next door. In the effort to get to know Connor, Odea begins walking his dreams. But then, a series of events occur that makes Odea question everything. Her mother disappears, a mysterious boy begins to follow Odea in the dream world, and monsters begin chasing her. Odea isn’t sure who she can trust in the dream world or her own.
Dreamland pulls the reader into Odea’s story right from the start. Odea and her friend Gollum are both loveable outcasts, whose interactions are entertaining and endearing. However, it’s not just the characterization in Dreamland that pulls the reader into the story. Anderson creates a story that is believable, interesting, and full of suspense. There are multiple plots that run throughout the book; however, they are weaved together perfectly to make the story both easy to read and entertaining. In the end, the mystery of Odea’s mother is solved in a satisfying manner. Dreamland will captivate teenagers without the use of descriptive violence or sex scenes.
- The narrator thinks about a rumor in which a girl’s, “sole form of exercise came from. . . showing off various parts of her anatomy to different horny senior boys beneath the bleachers . . .”
- Odea comes upon a boy who is swimming naked in a pond. “Then it hit her: he was swimming naked. He was naked right then. Which meant she was having a conversation with a naked boy.”
- Odea dreams about a boy and thinks about the fact that she has never kissed anyone, but would like to. Then Odea’s enemy appears in the dream, “Her hair shimmered in the sun and her boobs floated like overturned cups on the water. Then they were kissing . . . She could hear the suction sound of their lips and the lapping of their tongues and the whisper of his fingers on her back and shoulders.”
- Odea wonders if her, “real father was horrible, a criminal or a drug addict or someone who trafficked kiddie port.”
- Conner and Odea kiss. “They moved together, finding each other through the soft pressure of their tongues. She brought her hands to his head; she leaned into him; she wanted to taste him and become him and be carried in these seconds forever.”
- Odea throws some picture frames at her mother. “Her mom screamed. The glass shattered. The frame thudded to the ground. ‘God, Dea.’ Now her mom was shouting. ‘Jesus. You nearly gave me a heart attack.’” After a brief argument, Odea’s mom slaps her.
- Part of the story revolves around the death of Connor’s mother and brother. The kids at school think that “He killed his mom. His brother, too. Beat his mom’s brains out, then shot his brother in the head the day before Christmas. He was, like, seven.”
- Odea goes into Connor’s dream, where he sees men kill his mother and one-year-old brother. Connor also tells Odea about the night they died. “The first shot didn’t kill her. It wasn’t meant to kill her . . . I heard my mom say please and no. I was so scared I couldn’t move. Couldn’t even hide . . . Then I heard . . . a crack. We found out later that it was her skull. He took the lamp from the bedside table and just hammered her head in . . . They shot Jake in the middle of the forehead. Execution-style.”
- In a dream, two men “with a face like a hole and long, black fingers,” chase Odea. “As the men reached out their liquid fingers to her and unhinged their jaws, roaring, as if to swallow her whole—as she felt their wet breath on her throat and neck, their eager, tasting tongues, black as rot—a narrow opening was revealed . . .” Odea is able to escape.
- After Odea’s mom disappears, the police begin following her. Odea is driving, trying to lose the police, when the faceless men from the dream world appear. “She screamed and wrenched the wheel to the right. The car jumped the gutter and plunged into the field. . . She bit down on her tongue and tasted blood. Then the black arms of the tree reached out to embrace her and she moved into the dark.”
- A reporter tells Connor and Odea a story. “When I was three, my mom was killed by an intruder. Shot three times, point-blank range. Nearly took her head off . . . She worked as a stripper to keep the lights on and everybody knew it. . . Some junkie busted in, shot my mom, snatched the money, and ran.”
- While in the psychiatric hospital, Odea sees, “a quick glimpse of naked skin—a man and woman together.” Then as she is walking with Connor, she thinks, “of the vision she’d seen in the gap between the curtains and wondered what it would be like. With Connor.”
- While in a motel room, Odea “heard a headboard knocking against the wall and the sound of a woman moaning. She could feel her whole body blush.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- After two mean girls confront Odea, they leave, “asses bumping right to left, the smell of booze trailing them.”
- Odea is put in a psychiatric hospital because the police think Odea tried to commit suicide. While there, the nurses give her medication.
- Odea remembers a time when her mom let her drink eggnog that had too much rum it.
- Profanity is used infrequently throughout the book. “Fuck” is used several times. Other profanity includes: ass, shit, and damn it.
- Bitch is used once.
- Gollum calls someone “an evil hell spawn.”
- The narrator calls her cat an “asshole.”
- Odea calls her car a “piece of shit.”
- Odea remembers a time when a boy called her mom “a whore. She gives it out in the parking lot of the Quick-E-Lube.”
- When Odea asks about the death of his mother and brother, Connor said, “fuck you.”
- In the hospital, Odea’s nurse’s name was Donna Sue. Odea thinks it, “seemed like a name she might have made up to keep her patients at ease while she was busy sticking needles in their arms and probing their asses.”
- Odea can travel to other people’s dreams. “Then there was a parting, as of a curtain, and Dea felt a soft sucking pressure on her skin and suddenly she had skin again, and ribs and lungs expanding inside of them. She came out of the dark like surfacing after being underwater and she was in. She’d made it. She was in Connor’s dream.”
- In an effort to help Connor remember the night of his mother’s death, Odea goes into Connor’s mind while he is awake.
- Odea uses a mirror to travel to the dream world where her mother is being held captive.
- Connor tells Odea that he doesn’t believe in God or heaven. She then thinks, “She didn’t know whether she believed in God.”