Allison's Book Bag

Lucid by Natalie Roers

Posted on: August 31, 2013

Lucid by Natalie Roers holds huge potential. Foremost, through the main character of Travis who was born with an oversized brain (macroencephaly), Lucid focuses on such timely issues as bullying and empathy. Through the fantasy genre, Roers also explores the controversial and intriguing phenomenon of lucid dreaming. Unfortunately, because Roers mostly relies on a hocus-pocus plot, the fantasy aspect is where Lucid most disappoints.

Lucid has its shining moments. Novice authors these days seem to have become much more adept at creating strong first chapters, Roers included. Within those all-important pages, Roers invokes my sympathy for Travis, whom even the nurses ridicule because of his appearance. She also helps me understand the many disadvantages of his disability. For example, while most of us enjoy the occasional moment in the limelight, Travis strives for anonymity and the escape from bullying it would offer. Last, and just as important, there’s the dream that forever changes Travis. For the first three chapters, I was captivated. There are some strong sections later in the book too, most of which deal with empathy. For example, there’s the scene where Travis confesses to Corinne that he is a hypocrite, explaining that his being drawn to her beauty was just as superficial as her being repulsed by his deformity. Then there’s the scene where she accuses him of being envious of the rest of the world because he thinks no one else has problems. There’s also a poignant moment where Travis realizes that Corrine has started to care about him in his entirety.

The most promising feature of Lucid though turned out to be its least successful. Lucid’s promotional material claims that the book is based on the “real world phenomenon” of lucid dreaming. A lucid dream is a dream in which a person is aware they are dreaming, and may even have some control over the dream. It’s frustrating that Roers deemed a realistic depiction of this to be insufficient, and decided to introduce a layer of supernatural hocus pocus. Travis doesn’t merely discover the ability to control his dreams. Instead, his psychologist gives him a talisman that bestows him with this ability, and ushers him into an entire lucid community. And when Travis invites Corrine into this world and allows the talisman to be stolen by an enemy, he puts the entire community at risk and so is ordered to destroy the talisman. How will any of this be of comfort to real victims of bullying? Should they really be encouraged to escape into a fantasy world?

Roers suggests there are benefits to lucid dreaming. There is a funny scene in Lucid in which, after he first experiences lucid dreaming, Travis revisits a favorite coffee shop and marches up to the girl of his dreams—only to realize that talking to her in real life is a lot different from talking to her in a dream world. So Travis retreats into his dream, replays his conversations with Corrine, and his next encounter with her in the real world is more successful. In other words, Travis’ dreams serve as his training ground. If lucid dreams could actually serve such a purpose, that would be wonderful–but then why tell readers that lucid dreams are unobtainable because they will require a talisman?

Natalie Roers is on a mission. With every book she writes, Roers hopes to raise social awareness for worthy causes. With Lucid, Roers even plans to donate a portion of every sale to her anti-bullying organizations. It’s a commendable goal. For that reason, I accepted the request to review her book and wish that I could offer a more favorable review. The reality though is that a novel is meant to entertain as much or more than it is to educate. Because of its hocus-plot, Lucid missed the mark for me.

UPDATE: Natalie Roers has been in contact with many of the parents featured in the documentary Bully. She plans to donate fifty percent of her profits from the entire first publication year of Lucid to the organizations featured in the documentary Bully. You can read about that at Lucid Announces Donations to Anti-Bullying Organizations.

My rating? Leave it: Don’t even take it off the shelves. Not recommended.

How would you rate this book?

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