When We Got Lost in Dreamland
3 Feb. 2021
Paperback / softback
When Malky and his younger brother Seb become the owners of a "Dreaminator", they are thrust into worlds beyond their wildest imagination.
From tree-top flights and Spanish galleons, to thrilling battles and sporting greatness -- it seems like nothing is out of reach when you can share a dream with someone else.
But"¦ impossible dreams come with incredible risks, and when Seb won't wake up and is taken to hospital in a coma, Malky is forced to leave reality behind and undertake a final, terrifying journey to the stone-age to wake his brother"¦
InformationBook Type: Junior High
Age Group: 12 years +
Traffic Lights: Green/Amber
Class Novel: No
Good Reads Rating: 4.5/5
Literary Rating: 4.5/5
The day before school gets back, Malky Bell gets dared to break into someone's house and steal something. He takes a strange device called a Dreaminator, which promises to give people control over their dreams. Malky tries it out with his younger brother Seb, and finds that they can share lucid dreams. They have incredible adventures -- hunting in the Stone Age, massive battles on Galleons -- but the last adventure goes badly wrong: Seb doesn't wake up afterwards.
With Seb trapped in a coma, Malky is certain that the Dreaminator is to blame. But he has no idea how to fix the problem. Luckily the new girl at school, Susan, is trying to help, and her grandmother -- a Buddhist from Tibet -- has been lucid dreaming for years. Mola tells Malky that he's been incredibly irresponsible, and that the only thing he can do is go back into the shared dream with Seb and wake him up. But Malky doesn't have the Dreaminator anymore. He must break into a funeral home and steal the Dreaminator from its inventor if he wants to get his brother back.
A desperate, last-ditch dream ensues as Malky races against time to save his brother, assisted by dream versions of Susan, Mola, his father, and even the inventor of the dreaminator and his son. Against all odds, Malky is able to wake his brother up. He's certainly learned to be more careful about the trouble he gets himself into and the friends he keeps, but he's also gained a better relationship with his brother, and an appreciation for how privileged he is to have his family.
This is a mindbending and fascinating book. The dreams Malky has are thrilling and sometimes scary, and the non-linear structure -- flashing back and forward to before and after Seb's coma -- keeps you guessing the whole time. Susan and her family bring another layer to the story: Susan's father has been imprisoned in China for speaking out against the government's treatment of Tibet. When they get the news that he will be able to come to Britain at the end of the book, the joy and relief is immense. Malky's relationship with his father is also interesting -- a recovering addict, he has separated from Malky's mum and is trying to get his life on track. Malky finds it hard to admit how much this has impacted him, but experiences a cathartic moment when he slays the dream crocodile he's been afraid of since childhood and finds his father inside, willing at last to say that he loves Malky and won't leave him behind.
On the surface this is a gripping adventure, with some interesting undertones about difficult moral decisions and peer pressure. It bears some similarities to the film Inception, reimagined for a younger audience.
dreams, brothers, peer pressure, non linear narrative, morality, broken families, friendship, isolation, bullying
1. Mild fight scenes in dreams on several occasions where the boys fight cavemen and animals. Injuries from the dreams sometimes come to reality, but they are not serious (p. 295, 348). Malky goes into a funeral parlour and opens a coffin, there is no body inside (p. 322). Malky kills the crocodile in his dream (p. 362). 2. Mr McKinley smokes a cigarette (p. 152). Malky's dad is a recovered drug addict, and mentions his recovery (p283). 3. Mola strips naked in the dream -- she is not described (p. 368).
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