Kerstin Gier’s previous-translated-to-English Ruby Red series was one of my all-time favorites. Though I never saw much about it online, I know that it was extremely popular because every single day (still) I get search hits on my site for one or all three of the titles, and the last one came out in October of 2013. It is a clever and interesting time-travel tale that you lovers of strong female characters, history and book boyfriends will enjoy. But this review is about her new series, The Silver Trilogy. Sadly, VERY sadly, I am not nearly as impressed by the first book: Dream A Little Dream.
It’s a little confusing to me how a book, penned by the same author and translated by the same person, would seem to be written by someone else altogether. I get that authors can change tone, themes, even the age groups they write for, but this almost seems dashed off and without the solid writing that carried her Ruby Red books. Though I can’t really describe my impression much better than that, suffice it to say that it affected my enjoyment.
The plot itself is interesting. Liv Silver is the oldest daughter (15) of an American professor of literary studies. She has a younger sister, Mia (12). Liv’s mother, Ann Mathews, is divorced from Liv and Mia’s father, a German engineer. Both parents have wanderlust, and due to their chosen vocations, they are free to move around the world a lot. Ann has always wanted to teach at Oxford, and when she finally gets a position there, she and the girls plan a move to the London area. Ann is a bit forgetful, so fortunately they have an au pair, Lottie, a German woman who has been with the family for twelve years. The girls are getting to the ages of no longer needing her, but she is basically a part of the family now.
The girls, who are quite used to starting at a new school every year, are really looking forward to living in the adorably English cottage that their mom has chosen. So imagine their surprise when Ann comes to pick them up at the airport with a boyfriend in tow. Ernest Spencer has gotten them an apartment in London, and they will be attending the private Frognal Academy where his seventeen-year-old twins, Grayson and Florence, go to school. Then Ann and Ernest drop the bomb: they want the families to live together at the Spencer home. Because her mom and boyfriend are in looooooove. Great.
So, there’s that. And also the dreams Liv starts having. Grayson and his friends, all of them handsome, blond, popular and coveted by all of the girls at Frognal, have started starring in these dreams, talking about secret things and performing rituals that, initially, Liv believes to be anything but real. But the more Liv discovers through her nighttime prowling, the more she believes these activities to be really happening, and not dreams at all. How can that be? Once discovered, she listens to the story of some thing that is controlling their lives. Something that could alter the balance of the universe, should it get free. But does she believe in that sort of thing?
As I alluded to previously, the writing is somewhat clunky – not the smoothly written narrative that draws you in so you don’t notice the passage of time. Because it seemed to be (almost) literally translated, it sounds foreign, and I felt like I had to run it through a processor in my own brain before digesting it. Plus, it seemed to take forever to find out what was going on. The main character went into dreams multiple times, each time not drawing much information from them. It took a while to get to the point. And trying to tell all of those blond boys apart and keep them separate in my mind wasn’t easy, either!
Of course there is a love interest, and I have to say that part was written very book-realistically. Not too much of the will they/won’t they, but just enough. And the ending has a twist, which, when done well as it is here, is always a welcome part of the plot. I always like a book with subplots; they give the book depth and the secondary characters something to do other than stand around. The home-life characters were very well done, but the father (important, I should think) was kind of a cipher and the school-life characters were not much more than caricatures.
I will probably read the second book, but if it takes as long as the Ruby Red sequels to be published, it may be forgotten. For those of you who love Ms. Gier’s other books, let me know what you think of Dream A Little Dream.
Dream A Little Dream by Kerstin Gier was published April 14, 2015 by Henry Holt & Company. Ink and Page checked this book out of the amazing Plano Public Library.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction Fantasy Paranormal Romance
Ages: 13 and up
FYI: Talk of sexual situations, underage drinking, drugs