Partway through GONE, the final book in Lisa McMann‘s dream trilogy, Janie’s boyfriend yells at her to, “Just shut about your stupid problems!” To which I nodded my head and voiced an inner, “I agree!” Indeed, my biggest criticism of this last book is Janie’s attitude. I do have other complaints too, such as the lack of background information provided for readers new to the series. There’s also the drawn-out suspense about a second choice Janie faces, as if we haven’t guessed it long before she reveals it to us. For awhile, I feared that McMann might fall into the trap that so many series writers do of failing to provide a satisfactory end with her last book. Thankfully, she didn’t. Having now read the whole trilogy, I can heartily recommend it to mature audiences.
If you haven’t guessed already, the first half of the book is the weakest. It rapidly dumps us into the middle of the Janie’s emotional reaction to events revealed in FADE. She is reeling from the publicity of being an undercover cop and from information revealed in a green book about some unpleasant consequences of being a dream-catcher. Throwing readers into the thick of her emotional meltdowns might work fine for readers familar with McMann’s earlier books. For newcomers, surely more explanation could be offered about Janie’s history as a dream-catcher or the trial in which she served as a witness.
Janie has also returned to her “woe is me” tune of the first book, except there I could accept it because it inspired her to seek out more information about her abilities whereas here it only pushes her deeper into a pity mode: There is no escape. There is never ever nothing for her. She is suffocating. She is breaking inside. I begin to lose sympathy for her, which doesn’t seem like the smartest move on McMann’s part. If readers stop caring for an author’s main character, and there isn’t any other crisis driving the story forward, why will they contnue to read?
After tolerating several chapters of her depression, I just want Janie to pull it together. Should this make me seem callous, keep in mind Janie has been dealing with her dream ability now for three books. That’s like three years in real life, isn’t it? Also, don’t you think her troubles seem rather removed from the real world? I mean, who actually has to deal with the ability to enter people’s dreams? Tell me, why should I care so much about this fantastical conflict that I am willing to read page-after-page of it?
Well, what keeps me reading is the new developments in her relationship with her parents. Her father is not only alive but in town and in the hospital–and perhaps on his death’s bed. Her mother also takes on a larger role, criticizing Janie for most everything she does. This attitude comes out of the blue, but at least McMann finally makes Janie deal with the impact that her parents had on her life and come to terms with them.
Initially, I am unsure even about the second half of the book. Janie’s second choice is revealed, didn’t really come as a great surprise, but she sure seems determined to stick with it. She also seems to view her father almost as a saint, in contrast to her mother whom she can’t stand. Or does she? And is there a third choice? McMann introduces some twists and turns, just as she did in the second book, that both surprise and delight me. Those new developments save the book and make me satisfied with her whole trilogy. So what are you waiting for? Go read the dream trilogy!
My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.
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