Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 1196
From the beginning, I had NO IDEA what to expect from Life Is But a Dream.
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
4.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Sabrina is being forced to separate reality from her daydreams—and so are we. The world around her instantly comes alive in a high definition fantasy that is reminiscent of worlds we would find in animated movies and magical books, a world within a world that no one but Sabrina can see. It's wondrous and tempting, because the places she sees transform into these vivid realms of impossibilities come to life and we can easily understand why Sabrina often, though sometimes unconsciously, chooses to suspend her time in the ordinary world and runs off into hers. It's vibrant and happy where she goes, and quite beautiful, as opposed to her current sterile surroundings in which she is among doctors and nurses who want the best for her but are always analyzing her, making her uncomfortable in their examining and evaluating, compelling her to feel as if every move and every thought are completely wrong. She was once special, her parents used to tell her so, and now the thing that defines her specialness is being slowly and meticulously broken down and discarded. Her sense of alarm and wariness is even more heart-breaking when bits of her memories are summoned to her each day and cast a sadness to her stay at the Wellness Center.

Despite the emotion and immediate camaraderie we form with Sabrina, the extent of her disorder is fascinating, and her artwork and imaginative background make it more so. What adds depth to her almost fragile bearing is her fear of the outside world, which we learn stems beyond the natural symptoms of her disorder and is rooted more firmly to recent events that relate to her mistreatment by so-called friends. Her sense of security is because of her confinement to the Wellness Center. She is almost entirely convinced that she is broken and wrong and strange, and our pain reaches out to hers, because she's nearly certain she belongs where she is. That is, until Alec, a fellow patient, arrives on the scene. It's almost comical how quickly Sabrina becomes taken with this newcomer. She doesn't doubt him or fear him, but is intrigued by him and believes that their first meeting has already happened—in one of her dreams. She feels safe with him and doesn't mind opening up to him, and it's weirdly sweet how fast they grow on each other. Still, their romance doesn't quite begin as swiftly as their feelings kindle, and their growing friendship is a pleasant slideshow that reveals their secrets, their playfulness, their happy and sad talks with each other.

While the pacing is slow-going, it doesn't very strongly effect our interest, as we are already too invested in Sabrina's future and how or if she will recover. It becomes crucial that she and her parents reforge their closeness, though the love never falters throughout the novel, that Sabrina is capable of surviving and enjoying life as anyone else, and that she continues to have Alec at her side, her sweetest reward for enduring torture and working at healing from whatever wounds, both mentally and emotionally, have been carried over. And when the ending magnifies so much that we have no choice but to look, we couldn't be more pleased and thrilled for those final handfuls of tender moments and sweet victory.

Originally posted at Paranormal Indulgence, 4/5/12
Good Points
From the beginning, I had NO IDEA what to expect from Life Is But a Dream. Despite all the good reviews I noticed, this book remained a big mystery until I sat down with it today. Each word James writes is like biting into beautiful and irresistible pastries. A giant lightbulb hides behind James' writing and illuminates every word so that it dazzles our eyes with pictures we can't see but can feel. Within Sabrina's mind lies a world so brilliant, a wonderful palette that contains a rainbow of colors and shapes, and as she creates some of it in her artwork, James masterfully paints something abstract and intangible and alluring with each drop of his colorful words. While the romance escalates quickly, it's FAR from unsatisfying, though it might be a tad unbelievable. However, that's the beauty of Sabrina's story—we're temped to believe in the illogical, the far-fetched, and enjoy what we find in her incredibly imaginative world.
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