Monday, April 11, 2011
Dreaming Anastasia: A Novel of Love, Magic, and the Power of Dreams
by Joy Preble
ISBN: 1-4022-1817-6 / 978-1-4022-1817-0
Anne has dreams that she is another person, in another place, in another time. The dreams are not only real - they are also terrifying. She tries to ignore them, but then even more unusual things begin to happen to her. A handsome stranger, a boy who appears to be Anne's age, approaches her and offers to explain everything. He claims that Anne is the person he has been seeking for a long time, and that only she can help him to rescue the Grand Duchess Anastasia from the clutches of the evil witch Baba Yaga.
Being a fan of Anastasia lore, I had high hopes for this book. Fortunately, it did not let me down. The writing is somewhat simplistic - which is suitable for a young adult book, but at the same time, the content is high in detail and vivid imagery. Dreaming Anastasia is well developed and creative. It covers the same topics as many books that have come before it, but from a new angle. the story is dark and has many sad moments, but it has humorous points as well.
I did have a few qualms with Dreaming Anastasia. The biggest one was this: I do not care for books written in the present tense. The wording is often awkward and errors can happen easily. There were one or two points where in my head I just went "ugh" over how something was phrased. Despite this, I still could not stop reading.
I also found the focus on sex a little disturbing for a young adult targeted book. The fact that it was discussed so casually - and frequently - was, to me, not age appropriate. But I suppose times are changing, and I am a little behind. The fact that Tess outwardly expressed her guilt over doing what she had done and was trying to keep her friend from making the same mistakes was a redeeming factor - at least it was not glorifying the act at a young age.
There are several grammatical errors - mostly with spelling, but nothing that takes away from the enjoyability of the story as a whole. The ideas and concepts were still valid, and have the potential to make readers want to learn more about the subjects covered. For a first novel, Joy Preble did a great job. With a little more editing and polish, it could have been perfect.
Once I started reading, I did not want to put it down until I was finished. To me, this is the sign of a good book. From start to finish, the book took about 5 hours to read. I did not complete it all in one sitting, though I would have if I could.
Overall, Dreaming Anastasia is an excellent read.
By dialogue and situations, you can tell that Dreaming Anastasia is targeted at the high school crowd. Would you would want your 14 year old daughter reading it? I would have to say it is a parent's call on this one. As I previously mentioned, this book talks frequently about sex. So, if you feel comfortable with your child's level of maturity and understanding of these concepts, then by all means let them read it. But if you do not - proceed with caution.
The Oz Counter: 3! Did you spot them? (The Oz Counter is explained in the "Anatomy of a PBG Review" link at the top of the page.)