Fascinating YA Fantasy with a Science-Fiction Feel
The Dreamwalker’s Child by Steve Voake
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: April 4, 2006
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Young teen Sam Palmer is a geeky recluse who is somewhat embarrassed by his obsession with insects. He's also amazed, and slightly freaked out, that his fascination seems to be reciprocal. Insects follow him everywhere. They never hurt him, though, until the day he sees a strange cloud of wasps, feels a sting on his neck, and blacks out. The next thing he knows, Sam is in a strange marsh in the middle of nowhere, in the dead of night, and the only living souls around him are a pack of slavering dog-like creatures out for his blood.
The action gets started in this book almost immediately, and it never stops. The story is told in alternating points of view of Sam, the leaders of two opposing militaries on the planet Sam has been swept to, and Sam's mother, who is the Dreamwalker of the book's title.
There are some truly hideous villains in this book, and Sam is knocked around brutally. He's a very strong protagonist, though, and so is the young girl who is sent to rescue him by the leader of the non-evil army. Skipper is a crack pilot of one of the most unusual flying "machines" you will ever read about in a fantasy.
There are a lot of insects in this book--the whole story is based around them. If you find the very thought of bugs repugnant, you might not enjoy this book. But since this book is primarily geared to adolescent boys, I don't think that will be a problem for them at all. I think they will love this book. The dynamic female character in the book will make it enjoyable for girls as well.
For parents: This book has no sex, drugs, or alcohol, and no bad language. It does, though, have a lot of violence. However, it is presented in such a way that I don't believe young teens will find the book overwhelmingly scary.
Fantasy World-Building: 5
Action-Adventure Plot: 5