‘When Dreams Come True’ by Rebecca Emin

When Dreams Come True Pic‘When Dreams Come True’ is a Bildungsroman with a side-order of romance and a healthy dash of mystery. The book follows the adventures of Charlie, our teenage protagonist, as she navigates the complex world of first loves, friendships, vivid dreams and family mysteries.

What I liked most about this novel was its accessibility. The prose, written from the point of view of Charlie, flows beautifully. The use of a teenage idiolect isn’t grating or whiny at all, and the language is very elegant, littered with classic Year 9 slang. Emin strikes a nice balance between a captivating narrative and vocabulary that is appropriate for her target audience.

Although the main plot of the story follows the mystery surrounding Charlie’s Aunt and the vivid dreams Charlie has, the part of the book I found most entertaining (and it was all pretty entertaining!) was the romance side of things. Emin handles the awkward transition into adolescence perfectly, documenting the new pressures society places on boy-girl friendships with uncanny accuracy. My favourite scene was a game of Truth or Dare between the four friends. It just felt so authentic – I had a big, goofy smile on my face the entire time I was reading it!

I also really enjoyed the running theme of dreams that seem to come true. The dreams served to jumble the chronology of the plot and spark alternative narrative trails here and there. I loved the mystery that came along with these dreams; they, as well as the overarching plot about Aunt Jenny and the love triangle-turned-square-turned-delightfully-complicated-love-tangle, created tension in the novel. This book is very hard to put down!

The fluid writing style, charming characters and well-crafted plot make this novel a truly enjoyable read. At the end, readers are left with a feeling of what life is like growing up as a modern day teenager. We see the impacts of social media, teachers, family and, most importantly, friends. And the feeling this book leaves you with, I should add, is an overwhelmingly positive one.

I would recommend this book to anyone who fancies an entertaining read with a highly enjoyable romance element and something a little bit mysterious at its heart.

Anomaly by Caitlin Lynagh

Anomaly pic‘Anomaly’ is a paranormal romance novel with a gripping plotline and a wonderfully original idea at its heart. I was instantly taken in by the immense scope of the novel, which deals with topics such as the afterlife, loss and following one’s destiny.

There are so many beautiful things about this book, it’s difficult to know where to start. Everything is so intricately plotted and penned, from Lynagh’s ideas about Positive and Negative energy, the soul and time, to the subtle presence of up-and-coming science, to the intertwining of the different themes. At any one time the novel sensitively discusses grief, love, family and the tension between following your passions or pursuing jobs that promise financial stability.

The novel’s deft handling of these issues helps paint a spectacular picture: a world where souls are visible to certain people (with emotions seen in swirling colours!), where Positive and Negative energy affects all, a world where love dominates. It was the development of these original ideas that really heightened my enjoyment of the novel. I especially liked the idea that every choice we make, be it big or small, is important, and that we should do our best to make Positive decisions. Lyangh’s use of gorgeous imagery and subtle metaphors was very important in this respect, as it helps readers to better understand these themes. I found myself being drawn completely into the world of Kyle, Alice, Sophie and Cameron, and I didn’t ever want to leave.

The characterisation in this novel is also excellent. Lyangh has a gift for creating realistic characters that seem to step right off the page and into the mind of the reader. My favourite was Kyle, who has a grey shroud of grief covering the vibrancy of his soul when we first meet him. Kyle is hard-working, even when he’s doing something he doesn’t enjoy, and always decent and kind. His charming personality was one of the things that I loved most about the book. I loved following him as he strived to overcome life’s challenges and navigate the world of university, a world that was also brilliantly realised by the author. The mix of paranormal elements, student life and flashes of gentle humour are just some of the things that make this book such a delight to read.

Reading ‘Anomaly’ made me feel genuinely happy. There’s an inspirational message at its centre and the rich language, three dimensional characters and stunningly unique ideas help to bring this message to the surface. The novel isn’t, however, a mere study in notions of Positive and Negative energy, relationships or the afterlife. It is a truly enjoyable read, tense in the right places, sad in others, but always warm, and always masterfully written.

I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to try something new and genre-bending. It was the best book I’ve read in a long time.