Poet Anderson… of Nightmares by Tom DeLonge and Suzanne Young
This YA trilogy about a Lucid Dreamer trying to wake his brother from a coma via the world of dreams has its good points and pitfalls, says Anjulie Te Pohe.
As an orphan Jonas Anderson knows what it’s like to lose what you love. When he and his brother Alan make their way to a new city they’re involved in a car accident which leaves Alan in a coma and Jonas alone. In his dreams Jonas is an all-powerful Poet, a guide for lost souls. In the waking world his life is spinning out of control. He struggles with the possibility that his brother may never wake up, while filling in for Alan at his new job and school. Jonas must find his brother in the dream world, defeat the creature that stalks him in his sleep, and outwit – or outrun – a terrible evil trying to use Jonas to gain ultimate control of the world of dreams.
In the preface, former Blink-182 co-frontman Tom DeLonge talks about how this book came to life, with DeLonge and bestselling author Suzanne Young collaborating to put this book together. I like that he was honest about how this book came about, instead of slapping just his name on the front cover when he didn’t do all the work. That being said, I have mixed feelings about Poet Anderson. It has an interesting concept, but the execution means that the book didn’t reach its full potential.
The strongest element of Poet Anderson is the relationship between Jonas and his brother Alan. This is explored through many flashbacks that flesh out Alan’s character and establish the strong bond these two brothers have. The flashbacks show that the pair are stronger when they are together and act as a stark contrast to images of comatose Alan in hospital. The book shines when their relationship is explored, and that’s when it makes me feel something.
Another good feature of this book is how Jonas to shown to be of lower socio-economic status. Without his new job, he’d probably be homeless. Jonas’s status is reinforced by his love interest Samantha, whose family owns the hotel Jonas works at. She’s unsure if she wants to date him at first as he doesn’t come from an affluent background. I just wish this had been explored more in the book.
The biggest problem I have with Poet Anderson… of Nightmares is that it doesn’t pack an emotional punch. Jonas is supposed to feel everything intensely, but that isn’t conveyed in the book. When we’re introduced to a dream city, I don’t feel like it’s a whimsical and fantastical place; instead there’s a disconnect. Emotional scenes fall short because the emotion isn’t there. When bad things happen to characters other than Alan, I don’t care as much because they aren’t as well developed as he was.
Speaking of characters, one of the least believable things in this book is the relationship between Jonas and his love interest, Samantha. Towards the end, the pair confess their love for each other but their relationship hasn’t been explored enough for the words to ring true. There’s no doubt that the pair are attracted to each other, but they have only known each other for a short period before supposedly falling in love, and their relationship hasn’t been explored deeply enough.
One of my pet peeves is that, out of a host of characters, there is only one person of colour, Marshall. He’s not a main character, and unlike every other person in this book, Marshall is the only one described as anything other than white. This implies that all other characters are white by default. I’m a firm believer in diverse books and with such a large cast, some of the other characters could have at least been described as diverse.
Poet Anderson…Of Nightmares by Tom Delonge and Suzanne Young has an exciting premise, but the book falls short and doesn’t pack the emotional punch it should. I wanted to feel more strongly, but the book lacks the description and characterization needed to make me feel deeply for this world and the people who inhabit it.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review.