Dream Caster - Najeev Raj Nadarajah

(I got a copy of this book through Goodreads' giveaway/First Reads.)

I'm not too sure how to rank this book; it's a toss between "it's OK" and "I liked it". Some ideas I really enjoyed, but they weren't enough to make me love the novel.

What I liked:

* The concept of materialising dreams into reality. It paves the way for incredible possibilities, and the whole idea lends itself to basically "imagination come true". Oh, what a writer can do with that. And Weavers seems to find original ways of exploring his powers at the end.

* Corollary of this: the creatures. The Fire Hounds are just so wicked, and I love the paradox of fire as having sustained humanity for centuries, yet turning into its worst enemy. The people must've felt miserable without it to keep them warm.

* The Dream Eater (although I'm not sure why he got that nickname, considering his way of acting). While his goals aren't totally clear, they seem to run deeper than mere destruction.

What I didn't like:

* I couldn't wrap my mind around the dialogues. The characters speak (and think) as if out of a fairly literary book. It would work if the narrative was, say, first person POV and told by someone with an academic background—but it doesn't cut it for dialogues. I know quite a few teachers and people with solid backgrounds in literature, and even they don't talk in such a way in everyday life. It makes little sense that survivors in a post-apocalyptic setting, all the more teenagers, would talk like that.

* Weaver was so. frelling. dense. Having spent years working the way he did for Ruben, there's just no way he could be so naive regarding other human beings.

When Abanel tells him "Show me", it's obvious she means his settlement, not his cloak. Then, when they reach the new settlement, he's told—at least twice—that he'll be given a job for life; his five days as a guard can't compete against years of cleaning waste, but the people here don't know he's been a guard for a few days only, right? He could have lied. He could've said "I was a guard", period. Instead, he tells the truth, and then feels crushed when he's appointed as, well, waste-cleaner. Well, duh. Could've sensed that coming from miles.

(show spoiler)

He becomes more clever later, but after his first blunders, such a growth appeared to be too quick. It would've worked better for me if he had been less sense in the beginning.

* Also, "coincidences".

There's ice around his bed, just like in his dream, even though the room is well-heated.

(show spoiler)

There comes a moment when you have to accept that, no, "coincidence" just doesn't cut it. It's not like he had been told he had awesome powers without ever seeing proof. The proof is there.

* The archetypal bad-guys-who-don't-like-him-on-a-whim. I found them useless and predictable (and they did a poor job as bullies anyway).

* The catastrophe that led mankind to the brink of destruction: it happened a few decades ago, yet nobody seems to remember much, not even the old guys who lived through it. It felt weird: I would've expected at least some records, if only written down a few years later by younger people who had heard accounts from "first-generation survivors".