This is not an ambitious book. It aims for nothing more than to be a
light, entertaining fantasy, with some typical YA themes of going away to
school and dealing with cliques and peer pressure. A young woman is
admitted to an exclusive art school and tries way too hard to fit in with
a snobbish clique, etc, etc.
However, the structure of the fantasy is just poorly thought out. The
scenario that Nye's created here begs for discussion of many interesting
concepts and topics - which aren't even slightly addressed.
The idea is that the novel takes place in "Dreamland," a realm created by
seven (never-seen) Sleepers, and subject to the whims of their dreams.
Therefore, the appearances of things are mutable, and 'change'
periodically, in waves.
Thigs that are not addressed: why are some things mutable, and others
consistently stable? How do people recognize each other, when appearances
are constantly changing? (There is some internal inconsistency here,
becausee the characters describe each other using physical characteristics
[such as "the bearded student"] that individuals in such a situation
wouldn't.) In a world full of physical changes, is there any meaning to
'race' or is there some other sort of division between groups that might
arise, socially? (All the characters in the book seem to always be white).
If characters don't get born or die, per se, why do they have families?
What is the meaning of youth or age?
There also seems to be some inconsistency because references are made to
the Seven Sleepers, but when talking about a "Cult Movie Phenomenon" the
inhabitants of Dreamland are able to enjoy the story because it's in the
consciousnesses of "millions of people."
I also felt it was a failing of the book that at no point did I get a
"dreamlike feeling" from it. Things didn't ever really happen - or change
- the way they do in dreams; it just didn't FEEL like a Dreamland.