Title: “The Dreamer”
Author: Lora Innes
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Genre(s): historical fiction, some romance, young adult
Part of a Series: Yes, Volume 1
Why I Read It: A spotlight in the booklet handed out at Anime Boston got me interested.
Summary: Beatrice Whaley is your average 21st century Bostonian high school student. She goes to school, hangs out with her friends, spends time with her family—including her annoying cousin John, tries out for the school play, and gets nervous asking out her crush, Benjamin Cato. However, her dreams of late are far from average. In those, she is surrounded by members of the Continental Army in the late summer of 1776 on what is now Brooklyn. Everyone there knows who she is and she clearly is supposed to have valuable information. After all, she has supposedly spent six months in the company of General William Howe since he kidnapped her as the British evacuated Boston. The Continental Army tries to keep her away from Howe while her friend Alan Warren tries to return her to Boston with help from Nathan Hale. Why is she having these dreams? And where does she truly belong?
Review: I feel I should explain that this is a graphic novel. I was going to put it under genres above but I realized it isn’t a genre. It’s a medium.
And it’s one I enjoy, even if I don’t read it that often. While I enjoy using an author’s words to create images in my head, it’s fun to see an artist’s take on it too. This is the first graphic novel I’ve reviewed here and there will probably be a second next week—Diana Gabaldon’s “The Exile.”
Graphic novels mean I don’t have the chance to really review the author’s descriptive skills and have to trans form into an art critic for a bit. So let’s get it out of the way. The artwork is pretty good from what I’ve been exposed to (and I’m counting the fact I’m a religious viewer of “Atop the Fourth Wall” on That Guy With the Glasses) and seems appropriate for the age group I believe this was aimed for—young adults. The women didn’t appear in skimpy outfits or with weird proportions. The one upskirt shot serves a purpose. And the backgrounds look good whether it’s Bea’s Bostonian high school or a road in Revolutionary-era Brooklyn. Dialogue bubbles are well-placed and there’s little to no narration. Innes relies on her dialogue and artwork to get her story across without having to explain much.
So the story. It’s good. I like the dream gimmick, though perhaps its because I employ a similar on in two of my unpublished novels. But I also feel it leaves the readers wondering why Bea is having these dreams. We read on to find out more. And because of the action. Innes made a wise decision in starting her novel off with a rescue. A mostly wordless rescue scene, too. With quite a passionate kiss. Certainly intrigues the reader! Then there’s Bea’s hesitancy to ask out Benjamin in her waking hours because of her feelings for the man in her dreams. Her conflict is understandable: Can a real boy live up to the one in dreams? Of course, her situation is more unusual.
And now the characters. We’ll start with Bea. She’s likeable and relatable, if a bit dramatic. She’s smart and caring, both in real life and her dream life. My one quibble is that she’s bit of a damsel in distress in her dreams. She’s just there, caught in the middle of battle and being carried around by either Alan or Nathan. It is realistic, I’ll admit, but it still seems a bit…wish fulfillment. To be carried around by strong, handsome soldiers who are focused on keeping you safe. Well, I hope Bea gets more involved in the later volumes. It would be nice to see.
Some more character development for her real world friends would be nice as well. The first book was focused more on the dream life than real life. Bea’s relationship with her cousin is interesting and I look forward to seeing more about it. And how her relationship with Ben progresses. Especially when compared to her dreams.
Now onto the dreams. I wasn’t surprised to see Nathan Hale involved. When I got the book, I met the author and she was wearing a I <3 Nathan Hale shirt. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Everyone deserves at least one historical crush. But Alan Warren is the main male character, the romantic hero. He’s pretty interesting. And seems to be keeping a secret. No, it’s not his feelings for Beatrice. Those are pretty clear to everyone, not just the reader. It has something to do with what happened in Boston.
Whatever that may be.
Sex: None, though mentioned.
Bottom line: A good read for history lovers.
Who is your historical crush?