by Lois Lowry
Publisher: Listening Library
Reading level: MG
Book type: prose novel
Length: 2 hours 43 minutes
Format: audio book [unabridged]
Littlest One is a tiny creature slowly learning her job of giving dreams to humans. Each night she and her teacher, Thin Elderly, visit an old woman’s home where she softly touches beloved objects, gathering happy memories, and drops of old scents and sounds. Littlest One pieces these bits together and presents them to her sleeping human in the form of pleasant dreams. But the dreaded Sinisteeds, dark fearsome creatures that plague their victims with nightmares, are always at work against the dreamgivers. When the old woman takes in John, an angry foster child with a troubled past, the Sinisteeds go after him with their horrifying nightmares. Can Littlest One, and her touch light as gossamer, protect John’s heart and soul from the nightmare of his dark past?
(synopsis from Goodreads)
When I first started listening to this one, I thought it might end up being a good story. Boy, was I ever wrong! I couldn't wait for this one to be over; the only reason I even bothered to finish it was because it was relatively short (for an audio book).
The plot was pretty weak. So there are these little creatures who come at night, gather nice memories from your belongings, and then turn them into dreams which they then bestow upon you. That's fine. But that's about all there was to the whole story! Everything was oversimplified and (I thought) a bit condescending. The villains weren't seen much, and they weren't that scary. A horse-like creature (a Sinisteed) breathes its way through your walls (I'm not joking) and gives you a nightmare. Okay... but why did the other dreamgivers act like this was a matter of life and death? They couldn't always prevent the nightmares, and even then, nobody died. So what was the big deal?
The characters were so boring. I couldn't relate to any of them. Littlest One was naive and annoying; her mentor, Thin Elderly, had about as much personality as a piece of drywall; the old woman was clueless and one-dimensional; John was a lost cause and downright scary (when a foster kid keeps talking about getting a gun and shooting you -- and your dog -- you should probably be a little bit worried); John's mother was almost an afterthought, and probably shouldn't even have made an appearance if she was going to be so underutilized; and Toby, the dog, was just a boring dog character (and dogs should never be boring). The only character I was interested in was one of the dreamgivers who'd turned into a Sinisteed. That was interesting... but that story angle wasn't given much attention.
Overall, the thing that really made me dislike this audio book was the narrator. In fact, I've made a note of her name so I never have to endure that sort of torture again. At times, all the characters sounded the same, which was confusing; at other times, she tried to differentiate the voices, only to become even more annoying. Her attempt at a tiny creature (Littlest One) sounded forced in its attempt to be childlike, and yet near the end of the book her regular narration voice lapsed into this irritating tone. All the old characters (Thin Elderly, Most Ancient, the old woman) spoke the same way, with a creaky voice that had this weird downward inflection at the end of each phrase.
I have to admit, in the spirit of full disclosure, that I fell asleep numerous times while listening, so I may have missed a second or two here and there. But, if anything, that only further proves that this story is too boring to be tolerated.
Overall: 2 out of 5