Rating: 4 out of 5
15-year-old psychic detective Claire Voyante’s new semester is not getting off to so great a start. Her best friend Becca is too busy with some old friends of hers to spend much time with Claire. And now Andy, Becca’s older brother and Claire’s crush-slash-somewhat-boyfriend, also seems too busy for her.
Then it turns out that Becca’s actually in a secret society responsible for improvement projects all over NYC, and their latest project is about to go downhill with a mysterious enemy attempting to sabotage their plans. It may be all up to Claire and her psychic dreams to help save the day once again.
This companion novel/sequel to DREAM GIRL does not disappoint at all: Claire and her eclectic group of friends and family are all here again, helping us enjoy the heck out of reading contemporary chick lit mystery with a twist of magic. Lauren Mechling proves once again that fluff reading can also be smart, and that smart girls can read fluff.
The most outstanding thing about this series is its gold medal-worthy characters. Claire is not your average teen chick lit heroine: she’s smart, she’s snarky, and she has a way of narrating that will leave us chuckling and wondering why we didn’t think of it ourselves. Likewise, I’m flabbergasted at the way Lauren writes atypical supporting characters, ones whose existence lies beyond being merely a plot device, or the MC’s loyal, opinion-less sidekick.
In fact, even though DREAM LIFE is at its core a gentle mystery novel, I loved the way everything didn’t revolve around the mystery. As in real life, there is more than one issue in a person’s life, and so it is with Claire. Lauren blends the mystery element with family eccentricities, friends’ troubles, choppy romantic waters, and more, to create a well-rounded, enjoyable, yet utterly relatable tale.
Similar to DREAM GIRL, the mystery aspect of this novel requires a bit of suspension of disbelief in order to believe. Secret society novels are rather overdone, and the creed of the one in DREAM LIFE is, well, a little silly and ridiculous. Still, one cannot deny Lauren’s skill at writing these novels. If you haven’t yet read this series, I highly recommend you pick it up. As far as lighthearted yet intelligent fluffy mysteries go, you can’t get much better than this.
[You can also read my review of Dream Girl]
Natalie Standiford (How to Say Goodbye in Robot)
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
Cover discussion: 2.5 out of 5 - Okay, okay, it still looks really weird IMO, but at least we've disposed of the excessively girly colors now. The cover has very little to do with what the book is about, and it's one of those cases where you need to overlook appearances for the genius that is inside.
Delacorte / Jan. 12, 2010 / Hardcover / 336pp. / $16.99
Thanks, Lauren and Random House, for providing me with a copy for review!
And now, a few words from the star herself...
Greetings and salutations, book lovers! I’m Claire Voyante, the main character of Dream Life, Lauren Mechling’s rip-roaring detective novel (and no, it is not immodest to say that about a book you didn’t write but in which you star—I checked in one of my grandmother Kiki’s etiquette books).
Dream Life is all about what happened after I found out my best friend Becca had just joined a super-exclusive, centuries-old secret society called the Blue Moons. I figured out how to wiggle my way into the club, and, of course, much drama ensued. I warmly invite you to check Dream Life out—it’s available at a bookstore or Internet site near you.
When Dream Girl, the first book in the series, came out, my creator Lauren fielded questions from bloggers and journalists. Lauren is currently underground working on a secret project so I offered to step in and relief pitch. I’m taking a page from Ann Landers's book and writing an advice column. The questions came from fans of the series. The answers came from the heart.
(Warning: I don't have a degree in psychotherapy--use at your own risk!)
12. Dear Claire,
I heard you new book is all about a secret society. I’ve been a member of my school’s track team and National Merit Scholarship club, and the thrill is gone. I’m writing because I’d to start my own secret society. Got any tips?
Janine Who Could Use Some Excitement In Her Life
Askov, MinnDear JWCUSEIHL,
I hear you! I go to this nerd school called Henry Hudson where everyone is obsessed with joining extracurricular clubs like Young Engineering Professionals and PoWER (People With Excellent Reading [abilities]). I’m sure these societies will look good on college applications, but that’s assuming you don’t die of boredom and you make it all the way to the college application process.
I didn’t belong to anything until the Blue Moons came knocking on my door. Okay, they didn’t exactly come knocking—more like I inserted myself among them. But that’s just a minor detail! The important thing is joining a secret society sure spices up a girl’s life.
If you want to start your own secret society, here are a few tips I picked up:
1. Code words are big. After all, it’s a secret society, so everything can’t just be lying out in the open. I’d come up with a special word for everything, so for example if you started the Orangina Society, you could call getting invited to join getting “juiced,” a member could be called a “seed,” and if somebody gets kicked out, she’s been “spilled.
2. No-nos are huge. Most of the times, a secret society isn’t about something so much as it’s not-about a lot of things. For instance, you might want to say your Orangina Society Society doesn’t allow shoes with laces, the color yellow, and any mentions of Megan Fox in its environs. And it’s always good to have a Major No-No—the society’s nemesis, the force you’re fighting against. It can either be something like pollution or injustice against minors. If you’re really feeling brave, go ahead and say your foe is the devil.
3. You’ll need to come up with a secret ritual or two. These can--and should!--be as preposterous as you like, and if anyone has any questions about why they have to wake up at two in the morning to roll watermelons across somebody’s lawn, you have an easy response. Just say these were the rules of another secret society from the very distant past and your society is that society’s reincarnation.
I hope these tips help, Janine.
In an twist of incomprehensibility, few bookstores have opted to stock Dream Life. The easiest way to get your own copy--which you should do--is to order it through Amazon. I also recommend you ask your local bookseller to special order it for you: special orders generally result in bookstores stocking the book, leading to greater audiences reached. Do so now, if you can! I will leave you with the trailer for Dream Life, for those who need more visual and image-based persuasion:
Dream Life by Lauren Mechling -- Trailer from Richie Williams on Vimeo.