Thursday, January 14, 2010
Review: Dream Girl by Lauren Mechling
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
15-year-old Claire Voyante has always been a little abnormal. Her mother is a wannabe Frenchwomen with ADD; her father—who is actually French—is a professor with eclectic friends; her younger brother Henry takes walks in the middle of the night. Claire herself has had visions on and off her whole life, but it is only when her grandmother Kiki gives her a black-and-white pendant that Claire’s dreams seem to suddenly sharpen and become prophetic.
When Claire befriends Becca, whose family is American condiment royalty, at their new and intense high school, Claire’s dreams suggest that someone may be trying to sabotage Becca’s family. It’s up to Claire to channel her love for Agatha Christie and find out who’s plotting against them before it’s too late.
DREAM GIRL is an utterly delightful, entertaining, and real book, featuring sharp writing and amazing characters. I couldn’t put it down, and, considering how this is not my usual genre fare for reading, that’s saying something.
Lauren Mechling’s writing is pitch-perfect for the likable Claire. Claire has a tongue-in-cheek way of approaching and viewing the world, going along with all the eccentricities around her while simultaneously making her genuine mark on others. She sounds like a real 15-year-old, not a grown up trying to hard to capture a 15-year-old’s voice or a 15-year-old whom you want to whack in the head for being insufferably annoying.
But Claire is not the only strong character in this book. With the possible exception of the mean-girl posse at school (and Lauren even hints at the possibility of their redemption), there is not one character in DREAM GIRL that feels like a stereotype. They are, incredibly, all charming and interesting. The dialogue is excellent; in fact, if you’re an appreciator of all-too-rare good writing in chick lit, as I am, you won’t be able to stop smiling through this book, chuckling at all the subtle witticisms and nodding your head at the realistic portrayal of people.
The psychic mystery element of DREAM GIRL works if you suspend your disbelief that a girl’s dreams can help her solve a sinister international crime. I liked how this novel is character-driven, not plot-dependent. Claire’s prophetic dreams do not overshadow her daytime life; instead, the mystical element of the story adds just a touch of the fantastical to this otherwise contemporary novel.
Overall, those looking for good writing and light reads will enjoy DREAM GIRL. Hardcore mystery fans may find Claire’s sleuthing abilities a bit too lighthearted for their tastes, but for those of us less well-versed in the genre, DREAM GIRL is a promising read. I can’t wait to see what Claire will do next in future books!
Overall Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Cover discussion: 2 out of 5 - Completely not my thing, not even when they changed the pink flowers to red for the paperback version. There is an excess of girliness that gives the wrong impression of the book (and I admit fully that the cover had turned me off to this book for a long time), the model is definitely not Claire, and it's just.... eh.
Random House / July 2008 / Hardcover / 256pp. / $15.99
also available in paperback (320pp.), $8.99