About thirty minutes ago, I finished my final book of Spring Break 2012 (and since I have to return to work tomorrow, this post will probably be a short one—well, for me anyway). The book I chose to wrap up my spring vacation was Dreamland, the third book in the Riley Bloom series by Alyson Noël. Oddly enough, I began my vacation with the second book in this series, Shimmer, so there’s a nice bookend feel here. All of the good things I’ve said about Radiance and Shimmer definitely apply to Dreamland as well, and I’m sure the same will be true of book four, Whisper.
In each of these books, we learn more about Riley Bloom, a twelve-year-old Soul Catcher who is learning the ropes in the Here and Now (the author’s version of Heaven). It’s not always easy for Riley, especially since what she wants most in the world is to be thirteen—a feat somewhat difficult to accomplish since she died when she was twelve. Like most twelve-year-olds, Riley is very self-centered, but she’s also lonely, afraid, and still kind of stuck in the life she left behind, particularly her relationship with her big sister, Ever. So far, she’s avoided any real trouble with the Council (the “governors” of Here and Now), but her guide, Bodhi, is pretty sure her luck will run out eventually.
When Riley and Bodhi are ordered to go on a vacation after their last fiasco (which Riley would point out ended remarkably well), Riley doesn’t know what to do with herself. Her work is her afterlife. She doesn’t have any friends other than her dog, Buttercup. Her family has moved on. Bodhi appears to have a girlfriend. So what is there to do? Well, she could pay her sister a little visit. Even though she’s warned against it, Riley decides to visit Dreamland, a place where she can enter her sister’s dreams, communicate with Ever, and finally learn what it takes to be a thirteen-year-old.
But Dreamland is not without its dangers, and Riley may not be prepared to face them. Riley’s tendency to leap before looking might just land her in more trouble than she can handle. Can Riley break through the nightmare she finds herself in? Will she learn what it really takes to grow up in the Here and Now? Or is she doomed to remain a child—with a child’s fears and immaturity—forever? Is growing older possible for Riley, or is that yet another dream that remains out of her reach? Read Dreamland by Alyson Noël to find out!
Dreamland is yet another book that is great for upper elementary, middle-grade, high school, and adult readers. There’s something for everyone to enjoy (and, more importantly, there’s something everyone can learn). I look forward to reading more of Riley Bloom’s adventures in Whisper, due to be released on April 24th. (Just two weeks away! Woohoo!!)
For more information on Alyson Noël and the Riley Bloom series, visit http://www.alysonnoel.com/ or follow the author on Twitter @AlysonNoel. You can also check out this awesome book trailer for Dreamland (available on YouTube):