A quick, easy read for those who enjoy alternate realities—but it’s by no means a light one.
Dreamer’s synopsis intrigued me and it was a very quick and compelling read, both in terms of the novel’s length (at a mere 155 pages it’s more like a novella) and of the plot. Basically, plain Jane college student Stella sustains a head injury and, in a coma, wakes in an ancient paradise-like Eden called ‘Jarmo’ that existed 9000 years ago in what is now known as Iraq.
Looking back on it now, what is so different about the story is that both the hero and heroine are—in the present time, at least (I’ll get to this later)—quite, well…unattractive. By that I don’t mean that they’re characters who simply don’t realise their physical appeal—they’re actually not what society would deem handsome individuals. Stella describes herself as a ‘cow’, and Harry, her thirty-something Anthropology professor, who happened to be at the same place at the wrong time, states later on that she’s merely one of the many faces in his class and ‘not a particularly pretty one’ at that. Though he’s not one to speak, with his pot belly big enough to strain his shirt.
There is a marked difference in the Stella of the present day to the tall, tanned and athletic Stella she finds herself as in Jarmo. Similarly, there is a very fit and super hot version of her professor there, too. I note that it’s a little funny that this alternate Harry doesn’t have a more, ahem, ‘native’ name. In this reality, Stella finds not only confidence but love (with Jarmo-Harry) and peace (in the more simple and yet fulfilling village life of Neolithic living).
Dreamer made me want to do some research on this archaeological site. The deceptively simple plot explores issues of insecurity and conveys a not so subtle disdain for the complexities of modern living. Jane Susann MacCarter’s writing has a lyrical and poetic quality that flows beautifully, although the story itself may come off as preachy to some. Those who are looking for more in terms of the plot may be disappointed—nothing much happens aside from a juxtaposition of what is described as a perfect existence in Jarmo against the speed and noise of contemporary living.
Yay or nay?
Although I enjoyed watching Stella grow as a character, as well as present-Harry, who sits vigilantly at her comatose side, the delivery of the rather heavy topics addressed was unfortunately somewhat shallow. I appreciated the not so typical ending, which stays with you long after you close the page—and which would be disappointing if there wasn’t going to be a sequel (Diviner).
Who might enjoy it: Readers who enjoy alternate reality stories
Who might not enjoy it: Readers who actually do enjoy the speed and noise of contemporary living
A reading copy of this book was generously provided by the author.
Title: Dreamer (excerpt)
Author: Jane Susann MacCarter