Author: Lucy Keating
Find the author: Website, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication date: April 12th 2016
Source: Harper Collins Canada (thank you!)
Vibrantly offbeat and utterly original, Lucy Keating’s debut novel combines the unconventional romance of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with the sweetness and heart of Jenny Han.
For as long as Alice can remember, she has dreamed of Max. Together, they have traveled the world and fallen deliriously, hopelessly in love. Max is the boy of her dreams—and only her dreams. Because he doesn’t exist.
But when Alice walks into class on her first day at a new school, there he is. Real Max is nothing like Dream Max. He’s stubborn and complicated. And he has a whole life Alice isn’t a part of. Getting to know each other in reality isn’t as perfect as Alice always hoped.
Alarmingly, when their dreams start to bleed into their waking hours, the pair realize that they might have to put an end to a lifetime of dreaming about each other. But when you fall in love in your dreams, can reality ever be enough?
Review: Dreamology by Lucy Keating
Dreamology by Lucy Keating is an unusual, lushly romantic YA sci-fi novel that surprised me with its pitch perfect voice. I read the first 100 pages with a lot of breaks in between, and then the rest of it all in one fell swoop because I had to know what would happen. If you’re into sci-fi or fantasy YA, and you’re looking for a contemporary transition, this might be a good one for you. Alternately, if you’re into contemporary or romance and you’re looking for something a little bit more speculative, this would be a great pick.
Alice, the protagonist, is a girl who has spent her life dreaming of Max. In their dream lives, they have had wild, amazing, adventurous dates in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, on safari in Africa, in hot air balloons and more. They’re definitely in love. There’s only one problem: Max doesn’t exist outside of Alice’s dreams…until the day Alice moves back to Boston, where she grew up, and he’s there, in front of her, at school.
Honestly, I don’t want to give too much more away, but I will say that if I had to sum this book up in one word, it would be “yearning.” Feelings of longing and need for each other just abound in this book. I feel like Lucy Keating nailed this part of teenage love and I really think the synopsis got this one right – there’s quite a bit of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in this book, as well as some adorable, lush, and quirky moments that will make a shippy heart sing.
I will say that because of the quirkiness of the characters and the sugariness of some of the moments, it occasionally read a little young for me. Even though I adored the writing and felt that it perfectly conveyed the concept of the story (more on that in the bonuses), I felt a bit of a disconnect with the characters. They were cute and sweet and shippy, but…I was missing an emotional element. I never felt fully invested.
I think a big part of that missing piece was the lack of detail in the backstory with Alice and Max and their families. We are told a few things about them, but I never felt like Keating mined the characters enough. I know that the focus was supposed to be on their love story, but I feel like the book would have been even more emotionally charged and compelling if we’d gotten to see more of their family lives.
Still, this is a cute read that explores the concept of fantasy vs. reality in romantic relationships really well. I think it could definitely be good for a younger audience that’s looking for a little more concept than the usual contemporary and I could definitely see this one in a middle-to-high school library.
Form Follows Function Writing: Keating’s writing was what kept me going through this book – the voice of the novel was just so perfectly quirky, dreamy, and romantic – but without losing its focus. I also loved how how well the voice fit Alice and how distinct all of the secondary characters were.
Love Triangle Gone Right: I know a lot of you hate cheating and love triangles, but as I’ve mentioned before, I really appreciate when a love triangle is done right – because they do happen, especially in YA. I appreciated that the two girls interested in the one boy were both obviously great people, and that Keating never made either one unlikeable.
The Bostonians: If you live in or are a fan of the city of Boston, this is SO the book for you – the characters hang out everywhere from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum to the Public Gardens to Porter Square. As someone who LOVES Boston (and her friends there; hi Kath, Andi, Gail and Sarah!), this book was SUCH a delight for me.
The Science of Dreaming: Learning more about dreaming and how our minds work while sleeping was one of my favourite parts of the book – it’s clear that Keating did a lot of research into the science. I was also particularly impressed by how she balanced descriptions of the science with gorgeous and surreal dream worlds that Alice and Max inhabit – they just fit so well with my own impressions of dreams.
Book Theme Song:
I’m cheating with this a little because Lucy Keating already put together an amazing playlist for this entire book. This song, Pictures of You, is what she calls the theme song of the whole book, which I TOTALLY agree with. It’s also one of my all time favourite 80s songs (just read those lyrics, so heart-breaking), so….
That I almost believe that they’re real
I’ve been living so long with my pictures of you
That I almost believe that the pictures are all I can feel
You standing quiet in the rain
As I ran to your heart to be near
And we kissed as the sky fell in
Holding you close
How I always held close in your fear
You running soft through the night
You were bigger and brighter and whiter than snow
And screamed at the make-believe
Screamed at the sky
And you finally found all your courage
To let it all go
So much more than everything
Hold for the last time then slip away quietly
Open my eyes
But I never see anything
The Final Word:
Dreamology by Lucy Keating is an unusual sci-fi romance that glows with yearning, whimsy, and concept. While I felt a bit of disconnect with the characters and emotional journey, it is nevertheless a confident debut that seamlessly blends science, romance, and adolescence. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for Lucy Keating’s next book – I think she has a unique voice in YA and one that can only get better with time.
DREAMOLOGY is out in bookstores today! Will you be picking it up? Are you interested in dreams or the science of dreams? Are you okay with good love triangles? Hit me up in the comments and let me know!