Fright Flight (2011), by Lisa Ard

Lisa Ard’s Dream Seekers series is great fun for younger readers!  It begins with a fascinating and original premise: Patrick, his siblings, and their mother are “dream seekers,” which means that when they dream at night, they actually experience their dreams, not just in their minds but with their entire begins.  The logistics behind this are not fully explored—at least not in Book One: Fright Flight—but I can imagine a few ways that the experiential side of the dream narratives could be justified.  The set up for the series is promising, and the dynamics in the family sound: the siblings share normal childhood rivalries, the mother is teaching her children how to use their intellectual capabilities to control their dreams, and the father—a scientist—is working at discovering the gene that contributes to the condition.

Fright Flight involves Patrick breaking the family “D.R.E.A.M.” rules for reducing dreaming at night: he goes with his friends to a late movie, and has soda (caffeine and sugar), which over-stimulates his mind. His dream that night is of flying a spaceship on a dangerous mission—but he is only 12!  Fortunately, the controls are (not surprisingly) similar to his video gaming system at home…

The plot, the characters, the premise: all of these suggest a strong, engaging narrative. But there are a couple of weaknesses that prevented me from fully enjoying Fright Flight. The style and structure of the books both suggest a much younger readership—say 6 to 8 years of age—than the protagonist’s age and interests. Patrick is 12, and just beginning to be interested in girls, yet the book is a 52-page chapter book far more suited to younger readers. In addition to this discrepancy, the actual writing is stilted, with far too much delivered in a lecturing voice by the narrator or the characters, rather than being effectively revealed to the reader through action or dialogue. But for the younger set, I think we have here a book—a series—that will be fun and enjoyable.

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