Title: Dreaming Awake
Author: Gwen Hayes
Genre: YA Paranormal
Series: Falling Under (Book 2)
Publication Date: January 3, 2012
Format: Paperback, 336 Pages
ISBN-10: 0451235541 (Penguin/NAL)
ISBN-13: 978-0451235541 (Penguin/NAL)
Reviewed by: Kristie
She fell for him in a nighttime world. But the time for dreaming is past—and the here-and-now can be just as fragile their love…
When Theia Alderson first encountered a mysterious, handsome boy in her dreams, she never imagined how finding Haden Black—and falling in love—could change her life. To save Haden, Theia sacrificed everything. And the dangerous bargain she made could have lasting repercussions.
Now Theia has returned to Serendipity Falls, and she finds herself struggling with the same deadly hungers that have tortured Haden. When students at their high school fall prey to a mysterious illness, Theia can’t help but wonder if Haden’s control is slipping—and how much longer she’ll have a grip on her own.
And still the nightmare realm of Under won’t let them go. Someone from Haden’s past is determined to destroy Theia from the inside out, starting with those closest to her, forcing Theia to choose between family and friends and a love that may have been doomed from the start…
Quick & Dirty: A well written dark young adult paranormal. An interesting world of nightmares that that will keep you reading to find out what will happen next.
Opening Sentence: Danger doesn’t always greet with bared fangs.
Dreaming Awake begins one week after Theia returns from Under. Theia is trying to readjust to life like it was before she lived in the world of nightmares. She loves Haden and her friends but she just wants to go back to Under. Something about the place just felt right to her. She was comfortable there. Her best friends Donny and Amelia are just glad to have her back. Theia and her dad’s relationship is even more strained than before she disappeared. She begins to dress differently and hang out with the “sneetches” (the jock crowd).
Haden is a Prince in the world of Under. His mother is the Queen of Nightmares. Haden is in love with Theia but he doesn’t want to condemn her to a fate of living in a demon realm. Haden visits with Theia often in her dreams in the beginning before Theia begins visiting on her own. Theia is changing and Haden seems oblivious to it. Students at school begin to get sick and only in the way that someone has to be feeding off of their energy. Theia thinks it is Haden. Haden thinks it is Theia. Then Mara shows up in town. Mara will stop at nothing to return Theia back to Under. A series of unfortunate events begin pile up into an all-out war in Under, a fight for peoples’ lives.
Theia has definitely grown since Falling Under. She is not the shy, sheltered girl she used to be. She has seen the evil that brings nightmares and that shapes her to come out of her shell but she still lacks one thing, communication. She won’t tell anyone her problems, not even Haden. At one point Haden tells her something she should have seen coming, something that she should have figured out after being at school day one but she doesn’t believe him at first. I kind of wanted to thump her on the side of the head for not catching that sooner.
Even though most of the story is told from Theia’s point of view, she really isn’t my favorite character in this series. This doesn’t mean I didn’t like her at all. I just really loved the supporting characters. Theia’s friends are really loyal to her even though there are times she leaves them out of the loop and even acts a little bitchy to them. I probably shouldn’t have but I also invested in Donny and Amelia’s relationships too with Gabe and Varnie. Unfortunately because of this I really wanted to throw this book against a wall (but since I was surrounded by expensive equipment at the time I decided that wasn’t a good idea, I didn’t want to break anything). I think my favorite parts of the whole book were the scenes told by Amelia and Donny.
Since so little of the book it told from Haden’s point of view he does seem to come off a bit shady at times with his intentions towards Theia. I can’t go into too much of it because it will ruin some things important to the story. I will say that even though Haden is a demon he really is a good guy. He wasn’t quite so hot/cold like he was in Falling Under (there are still a few times in the middle when he gets a little hot tempered). He now knows what he wants and he would rather die than let Under taint Theia.
The world of Under is very imaginative, filled with walking skeletons, sewn together maids, strange flowers with faces, a castle whose rooms move around. Although most of everything you see in Under is from the first book but Theia’s dreams expand to the land surrounding the castle. The pacing is a little intense because there is a lot of stuff going on and it does keep you hooked to find out what will happen next.
I would recommend reading Falling Under before reading Dreaming Awake. The events in Under are not really recapped so Theia’s time in Under wasn’t revealed. In another scene, a “flashback” per se or new memory that plays out from Falling Under is portrayed differently and the way Theia reacts to it is telling. It’s not that important in the end result but knowing how it played out to begin with won’t make it so confusing to the reader.
Overall, Dreaming Awake is a nice, dark book about the good girl who doesn’t want to make safe decisions. This sequel just expounds on the relationship started in Falling Under, it is not the same read that Falling Under was, it is about a girl who is already in love with a boy but she no longer fits in with her normal life. She is changing in ways that make it not safe for her to be around people. She wants to protect those she loves by not telling them anything even though it ends up putting them in harm’s way in the end. It was refreshing to read something about a world of nightmares instead of the standard fare of vampires and werewolves.
“Theia!” Donny charged into the room, grabbing me before I could respond. “We need to talk.” She said something to the girl that made her run off–scurrying like her life depended on it. Donny had that effect on people. She then turned me to face her. “Where’s Haden?”
All I could do was shrug while burning tears threatened. I was upset and I was angry. I forced myself to speak. “I don’t know. We broke up.”
“Yeah, I heard. Thanks for sharing with your best friends.”
My emotions were swirling in a soup of ugliness in my stomach. Kids were filtering back into class for second period. Auras became more pronounced as my emotions became more confused. This couldn’t be a good thing. I really didn’t want to become aware of my unnatural hungers in the middle of a classroom full of students.
Donny didn’t realize my dilemma, though. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
She shone a royal blue color today. It was lovely. I wanted to touch the color and wrap it around—“Earth to Theia,” she said, exasperated, as she waved her hand in front of my face. “So the rumors might be true? Everyone is saying he took a very drunk Brittany home Saturday night and neither of them has been seen since.”
My thoughts began to jumble and my body temperature rose uncomfortably. In between spikes of anger and confusion, pangs of hunger stabbed me from the inside out. I clutched her arm fiercely. “Get me out of here, Donny.”
“Jesus, Theia. Your eyes are black.”
She pulled a pair of sunglasses out of her purse and pushed them haphazardly onto my face. When we got to the hall, the sensory overload was worse. With the sunglasses covering my eyes, the hall seemed so dark, and yet the darkness seemed to move, as if it was gathering into a shadow. Whispers assailed me from every direction, mocking and disorienting me. Some were the kids in the hall, but some—some came from someplace dark and evil, someplace inside me.
“Make them stop,” I whispered.
“Make who stop?” she asked. “Thei, you’re scaring the crap out of me. Are you about to get all wear-a-hockey-mask-and-kill-my-classmates?”
I was sucking in air, but it wasn’t going to my lungs. People were staring at me—I could feel their eyes on me. I was scaring them—I was scaring Donny too. That much I could smell.
The Falling Under Series:
FTC Advisory: Penguin/NAL provided me with a copy of Dreaming Awake. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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