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Review: Dream Me - Kathryn Berla

Dream Me
Dream Me by Kathryn Berla
My rating: {★★★☆☆}

YA Contemporary Sci-Fi
Published July 11th 2017 by Amberjack Publishing

Source: Amberjack Publishing via NetGalley
Zat is a dreamer from the distant future—a time when humans no longer dream and Earth is a desolate wasteland. He dreams of the beautiful Earth of the past, and a fiery-haired beauty named Babe. Against the wisdom of his peers, Zat decides to risk everything to travel back in time and live in Babe’s dreams…

Babe is the perpetual new girl in town. Her father's job frequently moves the family around the country, and Babe just longs for a place to call home. As she settles into the sleepy town of Sugar Dunes, Florida, Babe begins to have strange dreams of a green-eyed boy named Zat. Night after night, Babe shows Zat her world. But the dreams come at the cost of nearly crippling migraines every morning. Babe’s life outside of her dreams pales in comparison to her growing love for Zat and their time spent together.

But the more time Babe and Zat spend together in her dreams, the more Babe’s pain increases, and Zat begins to question the reality of his existence. How can he live a life with Babe, when all they have is her dreams?

Can a dream become a reality?

I actually found this book really tough to rate. On the one hand there's so much about it that I loved but on the other hand there's so much that I wished had been executed differently.

It is an interesting dynamic of a YA Contemporary Sci-Fi but for me it fell more into a fantasy category since there was no explanation of the science.

The basic premise was interesting, and yet problematic for me: in the distant future humans (or whatever our race evolved into) have developed a means of time travel where you can send someone's consciousness back into the past to a host. The catch is that they are only able to interact with their host while the host is dreaming and in the REM state. I'm not sure what happens to that consciousness during other times - it just wasn't explained. Nor was it explained how they separated the body from the consciousness.

The main characters are Babe, the girl of our time, and Zat, the boy from the future. Babe has never lived in one place for very long - with her father being a golf pro they travel around the country and live wherever her father can find work. At the beginning of the book they are moving to Sugar Dunes, Florida and we follow Babe and her blog through the summer.

I did like the different narratives in the story - the medium of Babe's blog and it's comments were fun to read and it was nice to have a POV from both Babe and Zat.

I enjoyed the flow of the writing and the juxtaposition of the descriptiveness and then the very teenage narration when it came to Babe.

It’s that special peaceful time just before sunset, when day and night reach equilibrium and the world stops to exhale. I’m never up early enough to know if the world inhales before sunrise.

I also really liked the diversity in this book. There was a lot of good representation here with regards to culture, wealth, sexuality and even hobbies and sports. It was great to see.

However there were also some pretty glaring issues that kept me from giving this book a higher rating.

I felt like all the characters other than Babe were underdeveloped and too stereotypical. The plot meandered and seemed to frequently become a bit lost - in short it's a very light plot and I'm not sure that the cookie cutter characters and the light plot worked for me but I did like the relationships that developed and the underlying themes.

Unfortunately I did have a HUGE issue with the way sexual harassment was presented in this book.

Babe is working at the tennis shop and is harassed by the 'big shot' of the country club - the richest king of the hill with the biggest yacht sailing in to their Summer port. It begins with this guy giving Babe 'the eye' upon his first meeting her, then progresses to him starting to touch her - seemingly innocuously at first but then rubbing her back and finally culminating in him accusing her of being a seductress, a temptress and kissing her.

In the beginning Babe is worried about herself and her job:

No way was I going to let Mr. Buell come between me and my job, as much as I’m sure he would have enjoyed a me-against-him scenario. It was nothing more than a game to him, but for me it wrecked my entire day.

But it soon progresses to her becoming worried about her parents:

“Your daddy’s the new golf pro, isn’t he? Pat Fremont?”

“Yes, he is.” I heard the threatening subtext of his question and my stomach sunk like a diving sub.

“I ran into him the other day. He’s a real nice fella, by golly. Your mama too, pretty lady. I can see where you get your good looks.”

Here was the threat. He didn’t have to say it—put up or shut up.

Babe tries to justify 'putting up' with the harassment to herself - she only has to avoid the man for one summer and then she would be done with him forever and she refuses to put her parent' future in jeopardy.

But this is a YA book, and while it may be commendable that Babe wanted to protect her parents and later her friend, I just think that a bigger deal should have been made of this and she should have at least TOLD people (like her parents) that it was happening or that more could have been done about it in the book. He's threatened her hoping that it will keep her quiet, and it did! It's sending the wrong message to young readers. It is never Okay to be harassed and I just didn't like how this played out in this book.

Even with these issues there was something about the book that stayed with me - something that kept me wondering and kept prompting me to pick up the book to finish it to try to find the answers to my questions.

The writing is really good and Babe's narrative and her Blog were especially engaging and had the science been more defined and the world building been a little better this could have been a great book.