Friday, May 17, 2013

Indie Spotlight Book Review - In Your Dreams by Amy Martin

Sixteen-year-old Zara "Zip" McKee lives for three things: basketball, books, and bailing out of tiny Titusville, Illinois, where the junior high and high school are in the same building and everyone's known everyone else since birth. But when Kieran Lanier moves to town and passes out on her desk on his first day at school, Zip's life gets complicated in a way she never dreamed.

Kieran has narcolepsy, and although he sometimes struggles to stay awake, he has no trouble capturing Zip's heart and trusting her with his most guarded secret--he sees bits and pieces of the future in his dreams.

But just when Zip thinks that maybe she can handle having a boyfriend who sees things before they happen, her budding relationship with Kieran gets a jolt when Kieran's parents reveal that his sleeping disorder is not what it seems and may be putting them in harm's way. And when Zip begins to have unsettling dreams, she must decide if she can live with knowing the future in advance when she's afraid of what might happen.

*Recommended for Young Adult readers 13 and up (mild cursing, some adult situations)



I am so, so insanely happy that this is the novel to kick off my Indie Spotlight feature.  It’s obvious by now that I try to support indie and self-published authors as much as I can, but I’ll be the first to admit that there are a lot of just plain bad self-pubs out there.  Read the grin on my face when I say that Amy Martin’s In Your Dreams is on a whole other level than most self-published novels.  That’s not to say it was perfect, or that there weren’t any scenes or chapters where it was obvious it was self-published, but as a whole, this novel is very polished and original.  I have zero doubts that this could be picked up by a major label and embraced by so many readers.


As my followers know, I’m a harsh reviewer.  I never hesitate to give my true feelings on a book, and to point out what I didn’t like, so I feel the need to remind you once again that I’m not going to be as harsh on these indie books. I’ll still be honest, and my rating and review will reflect that, but I’m going to focus more on the good in the bulk of my indie reviews unless it just plain sucks.

What I loved most about In Your Dreams is its originality.  A lot of self-published books try too hard to be the bestsellers and the result is another carbon copy with less structure, but Martin threw YA clich├ęs and convention out the window with this one.  First of all, the love interest has narcolepsy.  A full-blown case of it; he literally falls asleep mid-conversation.  Now I don’t know much about narcolepsy so I don’t feel qualified to remark on the authenticity of Kieran’s case of it, but though there were a few instances when it felt a bit much, for the most part I felt it was well-done and believable.  I also absolutely love the supernatural aspect to it.  Kieran dreams the future.  Not complete scenes, build-ups and outcomes, but little snatches of what’s to come.  We get an idea of what caused it as the story progresses, and I love the explanation for it.  I love that Martin actually gives one – I’ve read a lot of indie books that just say, “This guy has powers because reasons.  But hey, look, things happen because of it!”  That’s not the case with In Your Dreams.

 The romance is healthy, and (thank you God) there is no love-triangle in sight.  I won’t say it was perfect, and I have to admit that I wasn’t all gaga over Kieran, but at least he wasn’t an abusive stalker. Zip – the MC – is strong and independent, and though she definitely likes her make-out sessions with Kieran, it’s clear that she’s not about to dedicate the sole reason for her existence to her new boyfriend.  (I’m looking at you, Bella and Bellaspawn.)

The actual writing is awesome.  There were several times that I forgot I was even reading a self-pub, which is one of the highest compliments I can give.  The grammar is spot on.  The few things I caught were clearly typos, not actual mistakes.  Once in a blue moon you’ll come across a run-on sentence, but they’re easily ignorable.

There were a few things I wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about, of course.  First of all, while I like the steady pace and good example of the relationship, I couldn’t really fall for Kieran.  He’s nice enough, and it’s clear Zip really likes him, but his personality never really popped for me.  He also didn’t seem as useful as Zip during the important times, most especially the climactic action-y scene at the end.  I’d still take him a hundred times over a few of the big YA heart-throbs, though.  (I’m looking at you, Patch.)

There are a lot of unneeded capitalizations in the prose.  I know they were intentional to give more weight to the particular thing/concept, but there was just too much of it.  I highlighted some examples on my Nook, but of course now that I want to find one or two they’ve all been deleted, but they were things like, I put on my dress, ignoring my mom’s insistence that this was The Biggest Night Ever.  That’s not a direct quote, but it proves the point.  I know this was supposed to highlight Zip’s sarcastic personality more, but by the end it started to get a bit excessive.  There were also a few plot threads that seemed to just fizzle out, one specifically that felt a bit like a cheat.  I have a feeling at least a few of these will be brought back for the sequel As You Wake, but it was still a tad annoying.

At the end of the day, though, the most important thing to take away from this review is that In Your Dreams is a must-read book for any indie book nerd, and anyone who’s looking for a unique YA novel.  I would not be surprised at all if this becomes the next example of a self-pub making it big, and you can bet your asses that I will be getting in touch with my inner hipster and bragging about having read it before it was cool.

In Your Dreams - 4 out of 5 stars
 

And now, as promised, a little teaser for the sequel As You Wake, which is out now!  Don’t worry, no spoilers for this one.  I wouldn’t do that to you guys. ;)

And while I do hope to lose my virginity to Kieran Lanier one day, my ultimate goal is to keep his secrets and protect him so that at some point he’s around to do the deed—and anything else he hopes to accomplish in his life.

If you missed it, don't forget to check out this month's Indie Spotlight page for an exclusive interview with Amy Martin herself and all the info you need about where to go to buy her book.  Which you totally should, because it's so worth the cheap price tag.

6 comments:

  1. I love the narcolepsy angle that is so original and is something I'd like to know more about. Sounds great Kelly, it ticks the box for lots of thinks I like in a book and thankfully avoids some of those I detest. I'm interested :)

    BookishTrish @ Between the Lines

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    1. I really think you'd like it. The author is really cool, too. She actually usually offers free copies to bloggers, so you should check that out!

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  2. I'm going to buy it right now! That's awesome that you are highlighting indie books, too, Kelly. It'll help everyone wade through the slush to find the good stuff.

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    1. Yay! I'm glad I was able to turn you on to it!

      I know it's hard for indie writers to get their name out, and it's getting impossible to be traditionally pubbed for new authors these days. I also get free books out of it, so I'm not being totally selfless haha. I know you have a feature coming up, too! :D

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  3. I'm so glad you liked this one! It really doesn't read like a self-pubbed book at all. I just finished the second book and it gets even better :D

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    1. Thanks, Sarah! I'm glad I liked it, too. I will definitely be reading As You Wake in the near future.

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As you may or may not know, life is eating up way too much of my spare time right now, so pretty please don't hate me if it takes me a few days to get back to your wonderful comments. I read each and every one from my phone, and they always make my day. <3