Book Review: The Silver Dream by Michael & Mallory Reaves

The Silver Dream by Michael & Mallory Reaves
The Silver Dream by Michael & Mallory Reaves
HarperTeen, 2013

The Silver Dream, story by Neil Gaiman & Michael Reaves, written by Michael & Mallory Reaves (Book #2 of the InterWorld series) is both better and not as good as its predecessor.

The story in this one is better. My main complaint about the first book in the series is that it read more like the outline of a TV show concept (which is what it is) than a fully fleshed out novel. The Silver Dream works as a cohesive, contained novel. As such, it’s more compelling.

Joey Harker has been with InterWorld for two years now. His team has gained experience in the field. When new and powerful Walkers are discovered in both the HEX and Binary sections of the Altiverse, InterWorld agents (including Joey) retrieve them and bring them back to Base Town. Along the way, Joey meets Acacia (“Don’t call me Casey”) Jones, a mysterious young woman who turns out to be far more important than she lets on. That’s when things start to go wrong … and FrostNight begins.

The Silver Dream introduces a new and wonderful character, in addition to fleshing out the existing characters a bit more. It expands the Altiverse in exciting new directions. The plotting in this book is really quite impressive—the authors weave some complicated knots and tie elements together in surprising ways. This story raises the stakes of the essential conflict and it ends on a cliffhanger.

It makes me want to read the third book ASAP.

The only real flaw with The Silver Dream is simply that the quality of the writing isn’t as good as in the first novel. This isn’t to say the writing is bad—far from it, the writing on display here is skillful. It’s fully up to the task of telling this story and telling it well.

You can tell Mr. Gaiman didn’t actually write this one (he helped plot the story, along with Mr. Reaves, but most of the actual writing was done by Michael’s daughter, Mallory [according to Wikipedia]). The style is a bit less elegant, the tone a bit more on-the-nose. Again—not bad. Just a bit less.

Tonally, the biggest issue is Joey’s sense of humor. He has a clever, self-deprecating way of narrating the story. In InterWorld, the first novel in the series, this sense of humor is what characterizes the narrative most deeply. The Silver Dream tries to replicate this humorous tone at the beginning but doesn’t quite manage it. And given how the story develops, this sense of humor doesn’t fit the narrative of this second novel. It comes across as somewhat tone deaf.

Thankfully, the writers are smart enough to realize that and stop trying to be funny after a certain point.

It’s probably a turn off for some people to know that this outing in the series is notably less funny than the first one. I’m grateful, though, that the authors recognized that humor isn’t what this story needs and didn’t try too hard to force it.

This is a story about Joey growing up. It’s a story about the worst-case scenario becoming worse than he ever imagined. It’s a story about a young man stepping up to face challenges bigger than he may be able to handle.

This kind of story can’t be all fun and jokes. It needs to get dark before it can find its way back to the light. Things need to go wrong for the main character to try to set it right, and learn that he can.

This kind of story may not be funny—but it’s essential. This is the best path the series could have taken.

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