by Bonnie Dobkin
I'm a bit confused about this book. I didn't like it, but I can't quite put my finger on why I disliked it as much as I did. And I'm even more confused as to why it currently has a 5-star rating on Amazon.com...
Jori lost her father in a car accident. Soon after that, her younger sister went missing. Then, one day, Jori stumbles across a creepy old man, his sentient pet spider, and his greatest treasure: a tapestry woven out of people's dreams. Jori soon realizes that her sister is being held prisoner inside the tapestry, and it's up to her to rescue her.
(That's my own description of the plot, and it's slightly different from the official one. I found the one on the book itself to be somewhat inaccurate and misleading. For example, I wouldn't call a person who has one friend "popular". And the stuff about reuniting with the dead father was misleading, at best.)
This book is listed as a young adult read. Unfortunately (and this may be why I had so many problems with it), it comes off as a book for much younger children... so much so that when the teenage protagonist kisses a love interest, it's rather jarring. I could not put my finger on how old Jori and her friends were supposed to be. Based on the fact that they were teenagers in high school (and yet Jori still had her father driving her around), I'd say they were supposed to be about fifteen. The problem is, they were written as though they were about eleven. This book is about dreams... teenagers' dreams, for the most part. And yet we've got a landscape populated by William Wallace, pharaohs, swamp hags, and talking wolves and unicorns.
And yet, I wouldn't give this book to younger children, either. We've got characters being lured into a derelict house by a creepy old man with only slight misgivings ("Well, we might end up murdered, but he says he's got something special to show me behind that door, so I'm going to go have a look!"). We've got some bad language that really wasn't necessary, and it came across as a desperate attempt to seem hip. Having a character say "shit" a lot does not make him seem more like a teenager. And I don't like recommending books for younger readers that have problems with the English language. There were two spots in the book where the editing went awry (extra words appeared in the sentence, as if the editor couldn't decide on which one, and so included both). There was an instance of "it's" being used as a possessive (gah!). And "pharaoh" was spelled wrong multiple times... including in a chapter title!
It took me ages to get through this one because I just wasn't enjoying it. Perhaps if I had gone into it with different expectations -- namely, that this was a book for a much younger audience -- I would have enjoyed it more. Then again, I probably wouldn't have. Ultimately, Dream Spinner reads rather like someone's weird dream. And while dreams are often relevant to the person having them, they're usually pretty boring to everybody else. As Max Beerbohm said, "People who insist on telling their dreams are among the terrors of the breakfast table."
Overall: 2.4 out of 5