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Book Review

This fantasy by Wayne Thomas Batson is the first in the "Dreamtreaders" series published by Thomas Nelson.

Dreamtreaders is written for kids ages 8 to 12 years. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Since Archer Keaton lost his mom to cancer, the 14-year-old has helped Dad care for his younger siblings, Kaylie and Buster. What no one but his friend Kara knows is that he's secretly a Dreamtreader. That makes him one of three people enlisted by Master Gabriel to enter the world of dreams and protect the waking world. He does this by patching up holes or breaches in the dream world so the Nightmare Lord can't get to people.

During one of Master Gabriel's visits, Archer learns that if enough breaches fray and a rift tears through, the waking human world will dissolve. There will be no difference between dreams and reality. The danger becomes more real when the two other Dreamtreaders, Duncan and Mesmeera, go missing so Archer has to patch the tears alone. He works tirelessly through the nights, surfing the dream world on his long board and battling the Nightmare Lord.

Meanwhile, a rich and intelligent new classmate arrives at Archer's school. Rigby is British and charismatic, capturing the attention of everyone, including Kara. Kara has begged Archer to teach her to be a Dreamtreader, but he's explained it's something she must be born into. When she learns Rigby can offer her a similar experience as a Lucid Walker, she joins him and learns to surf through dreams.

Master Gabriel continually urges Archer to read The Dreamtreader Creed so he will learn to improve his skills. One thing Archer learns the hard way is that items from the dream world, which appear in the waking world, are Tokens of Doom to a Dreamtreader. In his continued efforts to keep the waking world from dissolving, Archer seeks information within his dreams from a short, green creature named Bezeal. Bezeal tells him about a silver puzzle box his fellow Dreamtreaders are seeking. He tells Archer if the boy brings him the box, he will reveal a secret that will help bring down the Nightmare Lord. Bezeal tricks Archer into making an unbreakable blood pact with him. Gabriel is angry when he learns this and forbids Archer to search for the box. Archer goes after the box anyway and brings it to the waking world.

Archer helps Rigby in a fight at school and gets suspended. At home on his suspension day, Archer prepares to beat Rigby in a rigorous academic challenge that week. He ends up losing the contest. He's made a bet with Rigby, and as the loser, he must clean up after Rigby's pets for a week. Archer goes to the old gothic house left to Rigby's family by the boy's crazy deceased Uncle Scovy. As Archer cleans the exotic animal cages, he sees a strange door in the basement and gets the feeling there's something creepy behind it.

Archer admits to Master Gabriel that he has disobeyed and brought the box Bezeal wanted to the waking world. Master Gabriel warns Archer about Lucid Walkers, explaining that they are like common thieves who enter the dream world and manipulate it. He warns that their presence causes horrible breaches. Archer gives Bezeal the box in his dream and discovers Bezeal has a substance that will temporarily close the breaches. Keeping his end of the blood pact, Bezeal tells Archer about two thrones that must be destroyed in order to overthrow the Nightmare Lord.

Back at Rigby's a few days later, Archer cleans the animal cages with Kaylie. She cracks the code that opens the creepy door. They discover Uncle Scovy, once a pioneering dream researcher, in a coma. Rigby appears and says he knows Archer is a Dreamtreader. He wants Archer to work with him and his Lucid Walkers to kill the Nightmare Lord, which he believes will restore his uncle's health.

Archer checks with Gabriel, who reluctantly agrees to let him enlist the Lucid Walkers' help. Archer meets Rigby, Kara and others, including a shadow of Uncle Scovy, inside the dream to battle the Nightmare Lord. The Nightmare Lord tricks them and traps Rigby and Kara using their own fear. He says he tricked Archer into killing the other two Dreamtreaders, and he's trapped Uncle Scovy as well.

Archer pulls the Nightmare Lord into the waking world. Then he realizes he's still dreaming and has inadvertently showed the Nightmare Lord his escape route from the dream world. As the Nightmare Lord threatens Archer's family, Kaylie uses Dreamtreader tips she's overheard from Archer to make her doll grow to a gigantic size and destroy the Nightmare Lord.

With the Nightmare Lord out of the picture, Gabriel begins to tell Archer about the boy's new mission. Rigby, Kara and Bezeal, believing they can now rule the dream world, secretly scheme to get funding for more Lucid Walking research.

Christian Beliefs

While some Christian messages can be inferred (regarding fear, hope, how rules bring freedom, our need for anchors so we don't drift from the truth, etc.), most spiritual references are veiled allegorically throughout the plot.

Other Belief Systems

Archer Keaton is a Dreamtreader. He is one of three people enlisted by Master Gabriel to enter the world of dreams and protect the waking world. He does this by patching up holes or breaches in the dream world so the Nightmare Lord can't get to people. The book The Dreamtreader's Creed explains that the Ethereal world is where man originated, and it is his true home. The dream world is simply a reminder to people that there is something wonderful beyond their temporal realm. A powerful being named Master Gabriel is Archer's mentor in Dreamtreading.

Authority Roles

Archer's father experiences a lot of stress from his nightmares about his wife. He used to smoke one cigarette a week, but his shaking hands tell Archer he's smoking more now. His father blames himself for not doing more to save her. Archer reminds Dad that Mom said he was the best man she'd ever known and that she'd wait for him in heaven. Master Gabriel frequently gets frustrated that his young student disobeys and isn't putting more effort into learning the creeds of the Dreamtreaders.

Profanity/Violence

The words butt and dang appear. Several battles in the dream world include bloodshed.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

None

Discussion Topics

If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:

  • Why does Archer disobey Master Gabriel and go after the puzzle box?
  • Does this risk end up helping him destroy the Nightmare Lord? Explain your answer.
  • Think about risks you've taken.
  • How have those risks hurt you?
  • How have they helped you?
  • Can you now see a wiser way to handle some of those riskier areas?

  • Why does Kara like learning the rules of Lucid Walking?

  • What does she mean when she says that rules equal freedom?
  • Think of a time in your life when rules or boundaries actually made you feel freer.

  • What does Rigby want, and how is he planning to get it?

  • Why can lust for power be a dangerous thing?
  • Think of a time when you or someone you know got hurt by trying too hard to pursue fame, money or power. What happened?

Additional Comments/Notes


This review is brought to you by Focus on the Family, a donor-based ministry. Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

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