Dream on | Silver #2 | ISBN 9781627790796 | Henry Holt & Co., 2016 | 1 out of 5 Points
“Things seem to be going well for Liv Silver: she’s adjusting to her new home in London; she has a burgeoning romance with Henry Harper, one of the cutest boys in school; and the girl who’s been turning her dreams into nightmares, Anabel, is now locked up. But serenity doesn’t last for long. It seems that Liv’s troubles are far from over—in fact, suddenly they’re piling up. School gossip blogger Secrecy knows all of Liv’s most intimate secrets, Henry might be hiding something from her, and at night Liv senses a dark presence following her through the corridors of the dream world. Does someone have a score to settle with Liv?”
Okay. What the hell was this? As you might know I wasn’t at all impressed with “Dream a Little Dream”, the first instalment of Kerstin Gier’s “Silver” trilogy. I was hoping book two in the series would be better since I know Gier to be a great Young Adult author. But no. “Dream On” is, in fact, even worse than book one and I’m starting to feel like Gier didn’t even care. All throughout her “Ruby Red” series she managed to create beautifully detailed settings and a spellbinding world of time travel, mystery and intrigue. Everything that made “Ruby Red” special is lacking from the Silver trilogy and in turn we’re getting lukewarm YA Fantasy that reads like the author didn’t pay much thought to it whatsoever. I’m disappointed to say the least.
IS THERE A VILLAGE CALLED LONDON SOMEWHERE BECAUSE THEY CAN’T MEAN THE CITY
I’ve already mentioned in my review of “Dream a Little Dream” that the London setting lacks any kind of atmosphere and description. It keeps saying London but this isn’t London. In “Dream a Little Dream” it’s even worse. Kerstin Gier makes it seem like the whole city cares about what happens in Liv’s borough (whichever it is) and what goes on at her school like London was some kind of village. Again we don’t see anything of the city, there is no big city feel to the story, there’s nothing. Just nothing. If you’re thinking about reading these books because you like fiction set in England do yourself a favour and pick up something else. You’re not getting much from this one. In fact the whole “Silver” trilogy might’ve worked better if Gier had set it in some obscure German village because that’s what the atmosphere suggests anyway. People gossiping about their neighbours’ gardens, caring about what everyone’s children are doing at school, that’s village life. It doesn’t happen in London.
This book’s irritating whiteness is also all kinds of grating. This book is set in London. London’s population is only 50% white. But the most diverse character out of a fairly big cast of characters is blond, blue eyed Liv with her German-American background. Everyone else is just English, white, straight and so on. This is ridiculous. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed the absence of diversity in a novel as much as I did when reading the “Silver” trilogy. Posh English schools like the one Liv goes to might be whiter than other schools but the lack of even just one character of colour out of like 15-20 characters that get mentioned regularly is irritating. It’s ignorant. For someone who claims to love London very much Kerstin Gier apparently has never walked down a single of its streets or else she would have noticed how multicultural this city is and she might also have been able to describe what London actually looks like. My guess is she just didn’t care enough and that saddens me.
GOT YOUR FEELINGS HURT? BECOME A VILLAIN TODAY!
My main beef with this book however is the absence of any sort of actual plot. Nothing happens. You know when book bloggers say “Nothing happens in this book” and they mean the plot was too thin? This is not what I mean. I mean that there was actually no plot. In the beginning we learn that Liv’s little sister Mia has started sleepwalking and Liv needs to find out why and if it’s connected to the dangers of the dream world. But then the book just loses itself in untied ends and jumbled bits and pieces of ideas. This book’s main villain has no motivation whatsoever other than having his precious little feelings hurt. I am not making this up. There’s no big scheme, no big backstory, no real reason for this guy to do what he does. He’s just angry. The other villain we get to meet in this book is laughable. This book consists mostly of Liv and Henry exploring the dream world, fighting, contrived drama and some very questionable stuff I’m going to talk about later.
You learn nothing new about the dream world at all. You don’t even get any new clues about Secrecy, the school’s Gossip Girl, only meaner and less fun. After 330 pages you know exactly as much as you knew at the end of book one. Makes you wonder why the hell you even read the book. It’s well written, I’ll give Gier that. Her style is charming and funny as always, “Dream On” has some nice laugh out loud moments and great banter. Nothing happens but at least it’s not boring. I finished the book in only two days and I did feel well entertained because at least it was funny but that’s about it. In the end I kind of felt cheated out of a good story. The whole trilogy seriously lacks substance but even the little substance there was in book one is absent from this one. The plot from book one is not continued at all and the new stuff that’s introduced isn’t interesting enough to keep you invested. I want to know more about the dream world and its dangers, I don’t care about Liv and Henry.
This is what this second instalment is mostly about. Liv and Henry’s bland relationship. Liv is angry because Henry keeps secrets, then he hurts her, then she’s even angrier. I do want to give Gier credit for Liv not crawling after Henry and wanting him back after he does something really awful to her and then tries to play it down instead of apologising. Liv is a headstrong heroine who knows her own mind and although she is hurt and sad, she knows life will go on without Henry. I liked that. What I hated however was the way the relationship played out before this incident. Fasten your seatbelts, we’re about to hit some turbulences.
THE VIRGIN COMPLEX
Liv’s biggest problem isn’t the dangerous dream world or the people trying to hurt her, no. In this book, Liv’s biggest problem is her virginity. This fifteen year old girl is told by everyone around her that it’s weird she’s still a virgin and that she should just sleep with Henry. Are you fucking kidding me? Pressuring someone who isn’t ready into sex is bad enough at any age but doing it to someone who is only fifteen is deprived. What the hell. Liv doesn’t feel ready to have sex yet which isn’t surprising since she’s fifteen and has only been dating Henry for a few weeks but she kind of agrees with the people who call her weird, a late bloomer and whatnot. I hated this. I hated this so much.
Our society’s attitude towards virginity is so fucked up. If you’re a virgin you’re a prude but if you’re not you’re a slut. You can’t really win and this pressure to lose your virginity to become a whole person or whatever is directed at very young girls by the people around them but also by books like this one. You can fuck right of with that. Not having had sex doesn’t make you weird or immature or childish or whatever people called Liv in this book. Sex doesn’t determine how mature or grown up you are. Sex doesn’t change you into a different, better person. Sex is just sex. It’s not as special as people like to pretend. It’s ironic to me how the people who bully Liv for not having had sex yet by calling her immature and weird are the ones who are actually being immature. What kind of shitty message is that? How the hell did it find its way into YA fiction read by people as young as eleven years old? Is this really what you want to teach young girls? If you’re a virgin at 15 you’re weird and immature. Fuck this book. Really. Fuck. This. Book.
It doesn’t get better from here on out either. The person who bullies and pressures Liv the most is of course Secrecy, our anonymous Gossip Girl who keeps bullying students while everyone else laughs about it and thinks it’s really hilarious how she makes fun of overweight and not conventionally attractive students until they basically break down. Gross with a capital G. She’s the one who first spreads the news that Liv hadn’t slept with Henry yet and Liv and everyone else acts like this is totally embarrassing. What kind of shit? I’m fuming all over again right now. We can’t condone this bullshit. Being a virgin is not embarrassing. Not being a virgin anymore doesn’t make you cooler and more grown up than you friends. Secrecy is about eighteen years old but she doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo yet. Grow up, girl. Grow up, Kerstin Gier.
I’m really tired now but one last thing: The treatment of mental illness in this book is horrendous too. There are so many jokes about Annabel being strapped to a bed somewhere and being punished for her sins by being locked up in a mental ward. It’s so gross. Annabel is mentally ill. Yes, she did something horrible – which actually totally plays into the “Mentally ill people are dangerous psychopaths” trope – but she is ill. And the heroes of this book laugh and laugh and laugh about her being ill, they joke about it, they’re happy she got locked away. Mental wards are described like prisons. Way to demonise mentally ill people. Way to demonise therapy and clinics. I’m pretty sure it’s fun reading this as a mentally ill thirteen year old who is already scared of reaching out and getting help anyway. This book is choke-full of horrible stereotypes and toxic messages, it’s not even funny anymore.
And that’s it. What’s left of “Dream On”? A nice writing style and some charming humour. The rest is a mess. There’s no plot, the villain’s motivation is laughable, the romance is bland, the love interest turns out to be an absolute arse, mental illness is treated like a joke and demonised and Liv and young readers are being told over and over that being a virgin is embarrassing. The title is quite appropriate because I do wish I had dreamt this book.
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