The Bottom Line: A sophisticated young adult novel that will appeal to all readers, regardless of age.
The Dream Keepers stretches the idea of fantasy to its limits, incorporating a larger-than-life dreamland where anything can happen with a narrator that’s at once naïve and completely in charge. Mona and her friends are a comforting cast of characters. Their familiarity with one another and Z. Oko’s deft ability to craft realistic conversations make The Dream Keepers a joy to read — especially with its hefty dose of humor. And while the camaraderie may be real, the setting is anything but. The Dream Keepers is set in a theme park that’s not of our world. Instead, it exists in Mona’s dreams and the astral plane. Without the confines of the real world, Z. Oko can let Mona’s imagination take over, creating outrageous attractions and otherworldy visitors. Add to that Mona’s real-life new-age mother and it’s clear that the author’s taking readers as far away as Kansas as possible.
As Mona explores her power over The Dream Keepers theme park, she discovers an unsavory foundation to the fantasy, which shakes her to her very core. Z. Oko takes the familiar, such as carnival games and fun fair rides and adds a sinister edge as the book progresses, taking the familiar and flipping it. And when Mona gets caught in her dreams and starts to lose control, things start to spiral and twist. Dreams blend with reality and readers are on the roller coasters right alongside Mona and her crew.
Some readers may find the setting and plot a bit over-the-top, but for those ready to escape into a unique take on mystery, The Dream Keepers will be a fun and refreshing trip.