Lucid by Jay Bonansinga: A Review
*review copy courtesy of publisher / Xpresso Book Tours
Lori Blaine is not your average seventeen-year-old high school student. Cool and iconoclastic in her dread-locks and natty thrift shop garb, with an IQ that’s off the charts, she is the ersatz leader of a pack of Goth kids that circle around her in the halls of Valesburg Central like a school of pilot fish. Lori speaks softly, but when she does speak, people have a tendency to listen.
But Lori Blaine has one problem: The door.
Lori’s dreams are haunted by this strange, recurring symbol. The door is always there on the periphery… beckoning to her, daring her to see what might be waiting for her on the other side. Finally, at the urging of an overzealous school psychologist, Lori Blaine decides to face her fears. The next night, she goes through the dream door… and immediately plunges into a shattered looking glass world in which nothing is as it seems and evil awaits around every corner.
But when Lori fights back, all hell breaks loose.
Created by the New York Times bestselling author of THE WALKING DEAD: DESCENT…. LUCID is a mind-bender of a contemporary supernatural thriller for Young Adults.
This book ended up being a little bit like that uber cool and trendy new pair of black leather studded boots you bought that languish in the back of your closet, because you prefer the beat-up comfy Converse that you’ve had for five years, that remind you of climbing fences and kissing in the rain. In other words…does it deliver on the cool factor? Hell yes. On the feels? Not so much.
This was definitely an outside the box read for me. I was intrigued by the synopsis and the awesome cover…I’ve been having a problem in one of my stories addressing a shared dream world so I wanted to get a glimpse at how some other author’s have tackled that subject, and the character of Lori really just sounded cool and different and fun to hang out with.
I failed to look too closely at the genre classification that put this into horror. I usually run from horror. It keeps me awake. It gives me nightmares. It gets under my skin and makes me uncomfortable, and not in a good way. I’m not one of those people that enjoys being scared. But really until some of the more graphic scenes at the end (which I haven’t been to sleep yet, I’m praying don’t give me nightmares) this one wasn’t as much of a horror vibe as it was just creepy and mostly in a pretty cool way.
The beginning of the book had more of a very dark and twisted Alice and Wonderland vibe to me. I loved the concept of the lucid dreaming world as the inciting incident to opening these other worlds to Lori. It’s a concept I’ve always been a little bit fascinated with, and one that I’ve never really seen explored in fiction. But, I was a little disappointed to see that the author went with the whole demon and angel mythology. I just felt that particular trope has been so overdone and when you are talking dream worlds and fantasy powers there were so many other ways he could have gone that it was a little bit of a let down. He did however at least try to add some newish ideas to the trope, but honestly I was still much more intrigued by the whole dream world and how they inhabited it, how the time worked there, how they came and went, how they could change things there etc, than I was about the demon fighting and the possession and the bogie monsters, you could have lifted all of that stuff out of the story and replaced it with literally any other fantasy trope and I probably would have liked the story a little more.
I’m still I think a little torn on how I feel about this book overall. The writing was there, but tripped me up in a few places, slowing down for telling and info-dumps and pulling us out of the story with some minor details that switched up. And the author seemed to have some favorite big words and phrases he liked to throw around repeatedly that annoyed me a bit.
I really enjoyed Lori as a character, and her growth arc was fantastic. But none of the other characters in the story are all that well developed. Nick, the love interest has a good back-story and is a super likable guy but they don’t actually spend much more than a total of a few hours together so their romance by definition falls into the dreaded insta-love category and we are left with no real resolution on if he will ever even escape that realm. Her best friend Hugo is written as typical anything-for-you best friend and Mom as typical broken-home, can’t-deal mother. Dad, who left when Lori was eleven and shows up for the last two pages of the epilogue may be the most interesting side character, but he’s not realistically even in the book. It’s very nebulous as to whether this is a set-up for a sequel.
I almost stopped reading before I got to 50 pages, thinking this just wasn’t the book for me, but then the story did manage to grab me and pull me in somewhere around that point and I wanted to see it through and I’m glad I did, I think there were some really cool scenes, some imaginative elements that I haven’t read or seen anywhere else. Basically Lori is a super-smart, kick-ass heroine, with a really unique adventure to go on but in the end I wanted to feel something, anything about these characters and I just felt like Lori was cool, but she could take care of herself, the author had done his job and tied most everything up the way he was supposed to, he wrote some very memorable, big-screen worthy scenes, he even taught me a thing or two, but he forgot to make me feel anything along the way, and that’s just a shame because when I read, I read to fall in love with some aspect of what I’m reading – a character, a world, the language, a concept, something, and although this was enjoyable enough of a read, there was just nothing here to really love.
Perhaps that’s the real reason I don’t read more horror.