Book Reviews, Contemporary YA, Dystopia, Sci-Fi

Fantastical Fusion Dream Me

This is a really unique dystopia, sci-fi, contemporary romance slice of life fusion… it’s odd and everyday plus quite compelling… read more to find out why…

Dream Me coverDream Me

by Kathryn Berla
Published July 11th 2017
by Amberjack Publishing

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Babe is yet again the new girl, her dad and mom moving her to Florida as the newest golf pro at the Sugar Dunes country club. It’s nothing new and at least she gets to be by the beach for her last year of school. Zat is the mysterious boy that invades her dreams from the distant future. Risking his life on the uncertain technology that projects his consciousness through time to past earth, he chooses Babe’s dreams to occupy. As the summer comes to a close Babe finds her life taking some left turns…will Zat survive all the changes?

My opinion Splat Logo

I love stories about dreams and post-apocalyptic earth so it was a no brainer to request this fusion love story. And I totally loved it! To be fair if you are not looking for romance this book is not for you. While Babe goes through all sorts of changes in her life she is unwaveringly bound to Zat. Okay warning is over, you have been forewarned!

Some might claim there is a startlingly strong insta-love between Babe and Zat. While I admit it appears like that I don’t agree… Zat has vetted dreamers to choose who he wants to occupy and he chose Babe after falling for her through her dreams. To some it may seem creepy like a stalker (and in a way it is) but its not about the physical it’s totally what he knows about Babe’s mind and dreams. In essence he got to know her intimately more than most couples know and feel about one another. Since he come from an earth so at odds with our own I can see how this intimacy bridges differences that may be too extreme without it. From Babe’s side of it she does say (very early on) she feels love while not understanding it. I believe this was to signify that her unconscious (basically her mind) had been aware of Zat and fallen for him too. This is probably a stretch for some readers. I however bought it and felt that the story followed this line of thought very well.

As for Zat’s distant earth, there were enough details that I bought his world. The body’s adaptations to the environment, their reliance on insects to eat and cactus to drink, the community society working together and pairing up due to practical matters were all touched on well enough that I could see his world. I loved meeting his uncle briefly and his talk about the other family members choosing the only other options besides the dream technology and death on earth – space travel with no known location in mind. In a way this background caused Zat to be a more accepting and loving human being for Babe.

While I felt this sci-fi aspect to Babe’s very regular life was intriguing and a great element that worked well it wasn’t the entire story and I liked that fusion nature to the book! We also have Mai, a Vietnamese girl Babe befriends at her family’s fish market and LeGrand, the rich boy, golden child that lounges at the country club his father is on the board of directors for. These two add such a richness to her day to day life. She is able to talk to Mai as a best friend and LeGrand is able to confide about his own struggles to Babe. They both add a tiny bit of diversity. (I didn’t mind the part about Mai’s name, she called her Nuggins due to the conversation she and Mai had to show they were friends. I’ve actually heard from my Asian friends that this happens particularly to the more difficult names.) The book covers the summer before her senior year and the ups and downs of her new sleepy town plus the addicting meetings with Zat that she feels she must rush back to each night.

The plot is not the be all to end all. If you HATE books with really light plot I still think you should give this book a chance but be aware that it is not about the plot even though there is some real life stuff that constitutes plot and acts as markers for the passing of time. I liked this about the book! I liked the difficulties that she had to tackle. The other minor characters weren’t there to add drama for drama’s sake but made you wonder (Alonso, Maddy Lynn, Bing, Kay and Clyde). I really appreciated the secret island, the sexual harassment and the Friends Across the Bay tennis class.

Babe has such a natural and engaging narrative style that I was willing to just go along for the ride as her life totally changes due to her move to Sugar Dunes.

“So much for Skyping with Perry if I couldn’t fix it myself. I would’ve texted him but I’d already tried my cell phone and we were out of the service area. Just great. In the middle of a pine forest on a street named after a fish and I couldn’t even send a text.”

Zat’s POV while more limited was a nice compliment to Babe even though it dropped off at the end abruptly. I loved Babe’s blog journal posts and the comments at the end. The formatting of the book worked well and kept us from dwelling on potentially more boring parts of Babe’s life.

The ending was fantastical but it was a satisfying conclusion to the entire dream experience. The real life drama was a nice balance to the romance climax. I liked how Babe realized what had happened, I thought it was executed well and her reactions were spot on. And her moment with Mai saying what needed to be said even if it was hard… now that is friendship. Really this book was all about the details. If I listed all of them then there wouldn’t be incredible little nuggets of gold for you to run across… while the book had light plot in places this was a really creative melding of genres that I really enjoyed.

Star Rating wordsRating Star 6Rating Star 1Rating Star 9Rating Star 16

BOTTOM LINE: A fantastical sci-fi contemporary romance, slice of life fusion.

My thoughts as a writer Typewriter Pink Purple LogoFusion is quite a difficult element to balance when it comes to the genres in a story. It isn’t highly recommended to beginner writers either as readers generally aren’t big fans of it. Many say that it is trying to be too many things at once and aren’t successful totally at any of them. This is a case of a successful fusion to me! It’s successful because there was enough detail in each of the genre elements that the story felt full while not being exaggerated. The scope of the story was intimate rather than grandiose so there was enough page space to explore each element. BUT when it comes to fusion suspending disbelief is essential. There will be some fantastical elements that aren’t based on reality.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

NetGalley delivers digital galleys, often called advance reading copies, or ARCs, to professional readers and helps promote new and upcoming titles. Professional readers–reviewers, media, journalists, bloggers, librarians, booksellers and educators–can join and use NetGalley at no cost.” Netgalley is a special section of my book discussions where I post reviews of the digital books I read through this service. It’s quite amazing the gems you can find. I’ve yet to regret reading a book, even if I don’t like it…


19 thoughts on “Fantastical Fusion Dream Me”

  1. Great review, Dani! It’s obvious that this book really struck you. It’s interesting… the sort of connection to a book your describe above, where you know this connection won’t exist for most other people, is something I only experience with romance and contemporary novels myself. It’s a weird thing. Like suddenly I’ve just read the right book for where I currently am in my life. It’s awesome.

    I am certainly intrigued by your review- but i still don’t know if this book is for me. Are the science fiction elements more sciency or more fictiony? Does that even make sense? I’d love to better understand the motivation for Zat reaching out to Babe, as well, if you can share without spoilers.

    And, honestly, all those name choices are terrible! Zat? Babe? LeGrand? At least Mai is a real name…

    Finally– a writer-focused question: How do you decide what novels fall into the “fusion” bucket? I feel like so many books blur the genre lines nowadays. Plus, who decided what these genres were, anyway?! 😉

    1. The sci-fi aspect is a total stretch and there is almost zero hard science about it. It’s totally fantastical to the nth degree. In your terms total fiction. Zat we learn very early in the book reaches out to Babe to save his life and he falls in love. The names are quite odd but Babe is just old fashioned people used to be called that all the time, lol.
      There are some fusion that are considered mainstream now like magical realism. Fusion is mixing genres that generally don’t go together. The more genres the more likely to be fusion it is and the less likely to be well received. Magical realism works so well because it’s fusing only 2 genres. I am a fan of fusion so like if you looked in my genre lists on my blog or at a review post you would see maybe 1 or 2 genres listed under categories. Fusion books generally have 3 or more genres. On goodreads some books are properly labeled with the right genres because readers identify with one specific genre or the other genres are very lightly used by comparison. I believe fusion is becoming more and more accepted as people grow up reading and loving multiple genres. 👍🏻😁 oh and the publishers determined genres… 🌈

      1. Well, you just told me that I love fusion books. Magical realism is my favorite genre by FAR. I love the concept of accepting magic as part of reality. I often tag my books with multiple genres on my own blog posts, but my brain typically associates a single genre with these books still. I should be a bit more critical about this… thank you for sharing! I love this concept and shall think more on it.

        Oh. And Goodreads genres frustrate the shit out of my because they are just showing the tags other users have selected in highest ranked order. It’s the worst. So many lies!

      2. I agree. If publisher don’t define it overall, then perhaps add that metadata in addition to the user-focused tags. It’s frustrating. Plus, I’m also at fault since I don’t consistently use them. I spend some time about once a quarter reviewing my tags to ensure I think they are appropriate and fair.

  2. Great review, Dani!
    I don’t mind “instalove” when it’s portrayed like that… It actually doesn’t sound like instalove to me at all because – after all – there was a period of them where Zat actually got to know Babe through her dreams. It wasn’t instantaneous. So, to me, it doesn’t really count.
    The overall story sounds really interesting, even if there isn’t much of a plot to it. Sometimes, one needs that kind of book to just sit back and relax 🙂
    I’ll definitely keep it in mind for later!

  3. Oh lovely review, thank you so much for sharing this, Dani! I hadn’t heard about this book before but it sounds quite interesting, and I’m glad that even if it seems a bit insta-lovey, you didn’t find it too overwhelming or bothering, since there was sort of a background to the two of them (if that makes sense? With Zat in her dreams and everything, feels like it’s not really insta-love after all). I’ll definitely keep that one in mind when i’m in the mood for that genre 🙂

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