3 Points, Humour, Reviews, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

“JUST DREAMING” BY KERSTIN GIER

Just Dreaming | Silver #3 | ISBN 9781627790802 | Henry Holt, 2017 | 3 out of 5 Points

“The course of dream travel never did run smooth—at least, not in Liv Silver’s experience. Able to visit other people’s dreams (whether they want her to or not), Liv has solved mysteries, unearthed difficult truths, fought madmen, and escaped life-threatening peril, all from the comfort of her own bed. But Liv’s troubles are just beginning…

A rocky romance, a malicious blogger with a hidden identity, a wedding, and a classmate (or two) dead-set on revenge all await Liv in this action-packed conclusion to the Silver trilogy.”

ELLA’S REVIEW

We’ve made it to the end. Finally! Kerstin Gier’s “Silver” trilogy was disappointing for me from start to finish but I’m glad to say this last book, “Just Dreaming”, was less of a disappointment than the first two books. It was still a disappointment though but at least a somewhat enjoyable one. You might wonder why I even picked up “Just Dreaming” after disliking “Dream a Little Dream” and “Dream On” that much and… I don’t really know. I wasn’t planning to and then the book came out and I saw it sitting in a bookstore’s window with its pretty, pretty cover and I bought it after all. Maybe I just wanted to finish the series now that I’d come so far. Maybe I wasn’t ready to give up on Kerstin Gier. I might have hoped she would save “Silver” last minute. She didn’t. She did however deliver a somewhat satisfying conclusion to this mess of a trilogy, even though it’s not perfect and it doesn’t fix the mistakes book one and two have made.

SOMEONE WANTS TO KILL ME? NEVERMIND, I NEED TO PRACTICE HAVING SEX!

There is so much teenage drama in this book. Gier’s focus on Liv’s school problems and boy troubles really dampened my enjoyment of “Just Dreaming”. Don’t get me wrong, I think including some teen drama would’ve been a-ok (this YA after all) but this book is basically made up entirely of teen drama. I originally wanted to read the “Silver” books because I was promised weird dream worlds, dangerous antagonists and secret dream societies. What I got however is a series focussing on the main character’s love life, her issues with her patchwork family and loads of high school trouble. There’s not much dream world in the “Silver” trilogy overall and there’s even less in “Just Dreaming” in particular. The fantasy plot takes a backseat in favour of Liv’s real world problems. This book pretends to be a dark YA paranormal romance but it’s not. It’s angsty contemporary YA and that’s not what I picked it up for.

Liv spends the whole freaking novel obsessing over her virginity and I was groaning and rolling my eyes every few pages. I’ve already taken issue with this in book two of the series and I was relieved to find it wasn’t as bad this time around. But it was still bad. Liv thinks everyone pities her for still being a virgin at the ripe old age of 16 so she invents some former boyfriend and tells her present boyfriend that she totes had sex before, haha, of course. Whilst Liv getting tangled in her web of lies was absolutely entertaining to read, it was still pathetic on her part. Liv then gets this crazy idea of finding some dream boy in the dream world she can practice sex with since it wouldn’t be real sex and she would be prepared once it was time to do it with Henry in the real world. Yeah, right.

Let’s all take a moment and think back to when Liv broke up with Henry in book two for having had sex with someone else in the dream world. Yeah, that happened. Because back then Liv realised that even though it happened in the dream world and it wasn’t real, Henry had still made the conscious decision to have sex with someone who was not his girlfriend. He cheated, okay? He cheated. Liv being strong and not taking any shit from Henry was one of the few things I really liked about “Dream On”. But yeah, she’s totally over that now and decides to practice sex in the dream world because that’s totally not cheating and also not the exact same thing that Henry did. Um, what the fuck, Liv? Double standards much? Did you forget what happened a few months ago or is it different because you’re just practicing?

Liv has issues, okay? She has issues. I mean, I know peer pressure is a thing and we live in a crazy sex-obsessed society. Young people feel pressured to lose their virginity at an early age and that’s a big fucking problem. But Gier is taking it a step too far. Liv is sixteen for crying out loud. She acts like she was some kind of social pariah because she hadn’t had sex yet and she’s so embarrassed of telling her boyfriend that she’s a virgin that she invents a former boyfriend she totally slept with and decides to dream-cheat on him so she wouldn’t “embarrass herself”. Why? Why, why, why? This isn’t even realistic. Why would Henry find it embarrassing? And if he did, what kind of monster would he be? (He doesn’t, by the way, which makes it even worse. He’s very considerate and doesn’t pressure Liv at all, so why is she even freaking out?)

Make no mistake: Liv’s attitude towards sex is all kinds of unhealthy and, quite frankly, gross. In the end Liv gets the right idea: It’s okay to wait, it’s important to feel ready and it isn’t anyone’s business whether she loses her virginity or not. But I’m not sure young readers will just accept that message after watching Liv fret over still being virgin for 300+ pages as though she had some horrible sickness she couldn’t tell anyone about. The whole plotline was unnecessary. It wasn’t funny and it sure as hell wasn’t helpful. This is something teenagers, especially girls, are super concerned about anyway and even though Gier crams the right message into the book last minute, Liv’s unhealthy attitude towards her own virginity, treating it like some kind of embarrassing defect she needs to get rid off, is harmful and unnecessary.

WHO IS GOSSIP GIRL, UM, I MEAN SECRECY?

You might wonder why I’m talking about Liv’s virginity quest in such detail. Well, that’s because there’s not much else to talk about since this is basically the whole book. There is more plot than in book two but that’s not hard since there was absolutely no plot in book two at all. “Just Dreaming”’s plot gets drowned out by the teen drama all the time but it’s there. It’s thin, but it’s there. The antagonist might still not have a proper reason for wanting to take over the world (it’s so ridiculous) but at least in this book he seemed dangerous and not just like a whiny child who didn’t get his way. I believed Liv when she said she was scared of him and I absolutely loved the conclusion to this teeny tiny plot line which is why I wish the book would have focused on it more and not on Liv’s relationship drama.

I also really liked that a certain female character who’s been demonised for her mental illness in book one and two gets a bit of a redemption arc in this book. You’ll know who I’m talking about if you’ve read book one and two so I’m going to shut up about it now because it’s kind of a spoiler but I was so happy to see this happen I needed to mention it even though it didn’t play out perfectly in the end. It didn’t fix the damage done in book one and two, which were heavily stigmatising in their attitude towards mental illness but at least it was there which is more than I was daring to hope for.

I was also quite satisfied with who turned out to be Secrecy. Secrecy’s identity was one of the trilogy’s biggest mysteries (which is sad considering that it should have been about dream travel and demons and stuff) and at least Gier delivered a great conclusion to this one.

However there was a lot more that I didn’t enjoy at all. I’ve already mentioned that this book’s focus isn’t the dream world but all the drama and I hated that so much. It’s all about Liv’s relationship with Henry and about her mum’s wedding to her future step-dad. I’m not exaggerating. The whole book is about trivial shit. I wanted to know why the dream world existed, how it worked and why the villain wanted to rule over it – as you would since that’s basically what “Silver” pretended to be about. But quelle surprise, we never even find out. Kerstin Gier just doesn’t bother to tell us anything about this dream world and dream travel we didn’t already find out in book one. We’re just expected to accept that it exists for some reason and that it’s really fun for Liv and the boys to play around with it but it doesn’t have any real purpose to the plot at all, it’s just… there.

I was so disappointed in Kerstin Gier when I realised I wasn’t going to find out anything about the dream world I really wanted to know. I wasn’t going to get a story involving dream travel and real antagonists. I wasn’t going to get what the trilogy promised me. Instead I got a watered down version of “Gossip Girl” with some supernatural bits thrown in for whatever reason. Look, if I want to read “Gossip Girl”, I read “Gossip Girl”. I have the books and I love them because for some reason I really like reading about mean rich people and intrigue. I don’t need Kerstin Gier for that. I’m going to get real for a minute here, please bear with me.

REAL TALK, BECAUSE ELLA’S ANGRY

“Silver” is a money grabbing joke, okay? It’s a joke. We got one decent first book and that should’ve been it. The two sequels should not exist. They don’t follow the plot of book one at all, they’re not offering anything we didn’t already know. This story was finished after book one but someone must’ve decided that this should be a trilogy. Why? Because it gets you more cash, that’s why. This is a recent trend in YA but “Silver” takes the cake. It’s a loveless cold money grabbing joke. The world building sucks. There basically is no world building. The dream world just exists but Gier doesn’t bother to explain why or what it’s for or how it works, it isn’t even really involved in the plot after book one.

These books are set in London but Gier doesn’t bother with any descriptions. It could have been set in the States just as well or in Gier’s native country of Germany. It doesn’t even read like a big city, it could have been the village of Lympstone just as well or any other old place because there is no freaking world building, no atmosphere, nothing. Gier’s characters are two dimensional and flat. We’ve got the “good girls”, Liv and Mia, we’ve got the irritating but endearing Persephone, we’ve got the nasty slut Emily, we’ve got four gorgeous boys whose characterisation doesn’t go deeper than their looks. Everyone has one or two character traits and that’s it then. These characters don’t matter. Nothing about “Silver” matters, nothing stays with you.

“Silver” is empty. There’s no substance. It’s a hollow shell because no one bothered to flesh it out at all. “They’ll buy it”, they probably said. “Gier is a bestselling author, her name on the cover will be enough.” No. It’s not fucking enough. “Silver” could have been great like “Ruby Red” was with some more fucking effort. But I guess it was easier to just let Liv obsess over her love life and school gossip than actually developing this world and these characters and thinking up a good, interesting plot. The sad thing is, I know Kerstin Gier could have done much better. I just know it, I’ve read her other trilogy. She’s inventive, original, a stand-out YA writer but something went wrong here. I can’t possibly tell if it was Gier’s own making or that of her publisher’s or someone else’s altogether but she didn’t use half of “Silver”’s and her own potential and that’s the worst thing about these books.

So I’ve finished the “Silver” trilogy. Okay. Bleh. “Just Dreaming” was alright. The plot was thin but at least there was some plot. The antagonist was laughable but at least he seemed proper dangerous. The resolution was great but too rushed. There was too much teen angst and relationship drama for a paranormal, there wasn’t enough dream travel and actual world building. This book’s saving grace is Gier’s signature humour and her beautiful writing. I’m giving “Just Dreaming” three points because I did find it more enjoyable than the last book, not because it was actually good.

I will reread “Ruby Red” now and forget that “Silver” even happened. Maybe Gier will write something outstanding again in the future but I’ll be honest, I’m weary of her and suspicious as hell. I’m not going to buy her next book. Thank god I have a library card.

About Ella

Ella is a writer and historian by day and a reader by night time. She lives by the North Sea and has managed to fill all empty spaces in her small apartment with books. She's 24.

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