Thursday, September 22, 2016

Dream Jumper: Nightmare Escape by Greg Grunberg and Lucas Turnbloom, color by Guy Major

Ben's dreams have been getting more and more vivid lately - and he's discovered he has the ability to "jump" into other people's dreams. His one friend, Jake, thinks there are great possibilities here and even his crush, Kaylee, is intrigued. But bigger things than Ben's school drama are happening. More and more children are falling prey to a mysterious disease that traps them in a nightmare world and Ben must take on his fears and fight back if he wants to save them.

As the set up for a series, this book contains lots of hints and bits of plot. Ben's father's mysterious disappearance, the presence of dream jumpers, the villains, etc. are all introduced although there's clearly a lot left to explain. The art (and story) are what I think of as Scholastic Graphix style. Very cinematic, colorful, with lots of action and drama.

Unfortunately, there's lots of stereotypes too. Ben, the ordinary middle class white boy, is naturally the hero. Although his crush is Asian, she's also in need of rescuing and has very little agency or presence, other than as an inspiration. Ben's sidekick, Jake, is the stereotypical "fat boy" a little dumb and babyish, mostly there to be made fun of and to stick to Ben no matter what.

This isn't a "bad" book per say; there's just nothing about it that stands out. It doesn't have the emotional depth of Amulet, the developed characters of Zita, or the twisty plot of Alabaster Shadows. More importantly, it brings nothing new to the genre and follows the same stereotyped characters used in a gazillion other kids' fantasy books and comics. In fact, I can pretty much predict the rest of the plot from the first book (I'm guessing his dad turns out to be the villain).

Verdict: Kids will happily pick this up, read it, and forget it. It's fine as an addition to your collection, but I don't expect it to get a major fan following like Amulet, Zita, or Bone. The story and characters have been told many times before; it's time to see something new.

ISBN: 9780545826044; Published 2016 by Scholastic Graphix; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

No comments: