Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Aspen and the Dream Walkers by Caroline Swart

   Ever wonder what it was like to live in a Cinderella story?  Aspen did.  She was a teenage girl trapped in a twisty nightmare version of Cinderella where she was constantly having to deal with an evil stepsister who tortured and blackmailed her, and a stepfather who could care less about her and made sure that she and her mother had nothing, as well as felt like they were nothing.  Aspen's father had died long ago when she was a baby.  She doesn't even remember him.  But her mom still missed him a lot.  Her stepfather, Stephan, had made sure that there was basically nothing left to remember or cherish when he was through.  Aspen couldn't even buy new clothes because her mother didn't work and had no money.  However, Mirian, her stepsister, wore designer clothing and heels.  And then Dylan shows up.  He is one hot guy and Miriam is instantly interested.  She gets whatever she wants and she is after him now.  But Dylan isn't interested in her.  He is interested in Aspen.  Aspen is like him.  She fries electronics when she touches them.  It's a strange nuisance, but she also notices quickly that Dylan seems to have a little electrical charge to him as well.  And Aspen is drawn to him.  Then the dreams start coming more often.  They are so realistic, but it is like it's in a different world.  A place called Lanta where the sky is the color of a lemon until it turns purple and the bad people come out, chasing people like her and creating some horrific nightmarish creatures.  It gets even stranger when Dylan and her new friend at school, Sandy, have to explain to her that it is all real.  She is a Dream Walker and so was her father.  Her mother, however, is human.  Not just that but her father was the ruler of Lanta.  Aspen is a princess here, a member of the Power Clan.  After never having anything, she isn't sure what to do with this information.  Now that she knows the truth, Aspen must learn how her powers work and how to control them.  If she doesn't, she could hurt one of her new friends.  And then there is her Uncle Leeman that she is just meeting and getting to know.  Between dealing with new powers, a horrific stepsister, her crazy crush on Dylan, and what looks to be her rival (Ruby from the Fire Clan), she has a lot to deal with...

   "Dream Walkers have been on this earth for centuries.  We live in a parallel plane to Earth.....There are good and bad people living on this plane.  The Chancellors are the bad guys.  They become powerful and multiply on fear.  Fear is what feeds them.  Nightmares are ideal for creating fear, so they try and make as many bad dreams as they can.  A small child in the middle of a nightmare is the perfect vehicle for strengthening Chancellors.  They live on the energy created by that fear.....We're the good guys.  Our mission is to stop nightmares before they start so that children don't suffer and Chancellors don't multiply."

   This book was very clean with very minimal language and no real adult situations.  In fact, the book has a really cool story line.  It is a pretty awesome idea to write a book about a clan of people who fight the source of bad dreams.  Ingenious really.  Not only that but the fact that she has no idea who she is or what she is capable.  It is great to see that she doesn't let all that power go to her head, because Aspen has more power than most in her clan.  But it isn't very stable, and that can be dangerous.  Dylan helps her to learn how to channel that power and he absorbs it whenever it is necessary.  After she fully gets her powers, they tend to come out whenever she gets really angry or upset.  It's a good thing Dylan is around so much to help her keep it under control.  What Aspen doesn't like is how much attention he gets from Ruby.  She is way too familiar with Dylan for Aspen's liking, and she seems to snub Aspen when she can.  Great.  Another Miriam.  At least that is what I thought whenever Ruby started coming into the picture!  Rebuilding her life is requiring a hefty effort on Aspen's part, as well as that of her friends and family that is left.  Her Uncle Leeman is going to be her and her mother's savior when it comes to getting away from Stephan and Miriam.  Because of him and Dylan, they will be safe and happy.  And most importantly, Aspen won't have to hide who she is from her mother anymore.  Like I said before, it's a twisty nightmarish version of Cinderella that will keep you coming back for more!!

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