Recommended for: Middle Grade Readers
You don’t know me. You don’t see me. But I am there. Watching. Helping. Bending your dreams. --Dreambender by Ronald Kidd
After a catastrophic event called “The Warming” destroys Earth as we know it. Life has begun again, but with a very different structure that is guided by “The Plan”. The plan is a specific path and rules that were created to keep the world from another “Warming,” and to help keep the people and the world safe. There are no machines, no music, no arts, nothing frivolous or creative is allowed.
The people are divided into two separate groups that do not mingle and are separated by a wilderness called The Between. One group lives in “The City” and have no idea that there is anyone else out there. They live a very structured existence where they are directed into an appropriate occupation based on their skills and the community’s needs. There are rules, laws, curfews, and watchers who keep things in line. The people wake up go to work, go home and start again the next day.
In “The Meadow” live the other group of people called Dreambenders. Their job is to visit the dreams of the city people each night and make sure that their dreams are in line with the goals of “The Plan”. If they do not align with the plan or show signs of ideas that would draw the people into frivolity, hope or creativity, it is the Dreambenders’ job to change their dreams and help guide their thoughts back into line.
Callie is from the city; her role is as a computer. Her job is to work with numbers. She lives with her family, follows the rules, and knows her place in the community. But in her dreams she is beginning to feel differently.
Jeremy is a new Dreambender from the Meadow, and he knows the rules: “Never meet the dreamer. Never harm the dreamer. Always follow the plan.” He is a natural, and quickly finds that bending dreams is something he enjoys and is good at. The others in his community see that he has a gift, and he quickly becomes the prodigy that the elders see as the future. All is going according to “The Plan” until Jeremy stumbles into Callie’s dream. A dream filled with music and hope and beauty. Music is forbidden, it is against “The Plan”, but how can something peaceful and beautiful be a bad thing? Jeremy makes a decision to not bend Callie’s dream, and this starts a ripple of changes, and begins his shift to breaking every rule and searching for what is really is right. Should a small group of people with a plan be able to control the minds and plans for the rest? Is everything he has ever known and been taught really wrong and harmful?
As I began reading Dreambender I made instant connections to Lois Lowry’s The Giver. The two books are different but have similarities that provoke the same questions and concerns in the reader. The book is well written and the tone takes on a relaxed and dream-like feel. Even through the chaos, the author keeps a sense of calm in the reader as they are taken into a world that is completely changed after “The Warming”. Jeremy and Callie’s thoughts and journey will force readers to question what is right and what is fair. Should one person or group’s idea of what is best for the community be forced on others? What if they are doing it with the best of intentions? I recommend Dreambender to those looking to read a solid middle grade fantasy. It also will especially appeal to those who understand the power of music and arts and their impact on the world.