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Review: Dreaming Awake

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Dreaming Awake
Author: Gwen Hayes 
Release Date: Jan. 3, 2012
Publisher: NAL
Falling Under #2
ISBN: #978-0451235541
Genre: YA Paranormal
Format(s): Paperback (336 pgs), e-book
Book Source: Publisher 
About the book:
When Theia Alderson first encountered a mysterious, handsome boy in her dreams, she never imagined how finding Haden Black—and falling in love—could change her life. To save Haden, Theia sacrificed everything. And the dangerous bargain she made could have lasting repercussions.
Now Theia has returned to Serendipity Falls, and she finds herself struggling with the same deadly hungers that have tortured Haden. When students at their high school fall prey to a mysterious illness, Theia can’t help but wonder if Haden’s control is slipping—and how much longer she’ll have a grip on her own.
And still the nighttime realm of Under won’t let them go. Someone from Haden’s past is determined to destroy Theia from the inside out, starting with those closest to her, forcing Theia to choose between family and friends and a love that may have been doomed from the start…
What B is talking about:
One week after her return from Under, Theia is trying to rejoin her old life again, but she’s not the human girl she was before. After her blood oath with the nightmare queen, Mara, she finds she’s changing more every day. But what is it, exactly, that she’s turning into? With a growing hunger she can’t fully control, a list of questions that keeps getting longer, and dark desires that grow more difficult to resist by the day, Theia is terrified of what she may become. 
Theia and Hayden are still undeniably perfect for one another, but after the resistance they both cling to in the first novel of the series, Falling Under, their continuing dance of self-denial is almost too much. Theia wants to give herself to Hayden thoroughly and eternally, but if he takes what she’s offering, he’ll not only ruin himself, but the sacrifice of her own humanity to save him will mean nothing. If they refuse to accept their mutual desire, they’ll fall apart anyway. Each is determined to sacrifice everything to save the other. It’s a case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t,” and while I thought it was sweet, after a while it became difficult to maintain a consistently high level of investment in their story. 
I particularly enjoyed Theia’s friends in Dreaming Awake. They steal the spotlight several times throughout the novel, in particular Donny and her “sneetch” (popular) boyfriend, Gabe, and most especially Varnie, alongside his crush, Amelia. As they are Theia’s best friends, Donny and Amelia get their own first-person interlude in Under, as does Hayden. The shift between worlds, set off by a somber page of ghostly gray roses at the beginning and end proclaiming, respectively, “up is still down,” and “down is up again,” is a device that worked well in Falling Under, and is repeated fairly successfully here. 
Theia tries to fight her battles alone by withholding information from her friends, and pushing Hayden away, all in the name of trying to save them. In the end, however, her self-imposed isolation turns out to be her biggest weakness. Hayes does an admirable job of empowering the central group of teens, however, and literally drops them into their worst nightmares, while doling out substantial pain and loss as they struggle their way through.
Dreaming Awake stands fairly well on its own, and is an enjoyable novel overall. However, I believe that reading the first novel is key to appreciating the beautiful horror of Under as Theia sees it. Some of the inhabitants and features of the nightmare realm are truly hideous, but without the detail provided in the first book, it’s easy to reduce them to merely being shockingly gory, rather than chillingly grotesque. While I wouldn’t recommend this novel to anyone under the age of fifteen, I think young adults in their mid- to late teens (and older YA fans) will find this a worthy continuation of the series. 
Bs Rating:

Liked it a lot – recommend (B+)
Books in the Series:

Falling Under (Falling Under #1)
Dreaming Awake (Falling Under #2)

  • Fantastic review. The cover is stunning! It’s definitely an eye catcher. The book itself sounds good, I really do need to look into reading book 1 to see what this series is all about…especially when I remember how much I loved the cover for book 1 and how good the reviews were for it. 🙂

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