Vibrantly offbeat and utterly original, Lucy Keating’s debut novel combines the unconventional romance of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with the sweetness and heart of Jenny Han.
For as long as Alice can remember, she has dreamed of Max. Together, they have traveled the world and fallen deliriously, hopelessly in love. Max is the boy of her dreams—and only her dreams. Because he doesn’t exist.
But when Alice walks into class on her first day at a new school, there he is. Real Max is nothing like Dream Max. He’s stubborn and complicated. And he has a whole life Alice isn’t a part of. Getting to know each other in reality isn’t as perfect as Alice always hoped.
Alarmingly, when their dreams start to bleed into their waking hours, the pair realize that they might have to put an end to a lifetime of dreaming about each other. But when you fall in love in your dreams, can reality ever be enough?
Initial thoughts: A strange, yet sweet and authentic love story of two teenagers who met in their dreams, literally.
This book opens with Alice, a quirky, likable narrator. She is moving to Boston with her father and will be attending a new school. The intriguing aspect of Alice’s character is that she has been having vibrant, realistic dreams for most of her life, and most of them involve a dream boy- Max. Alice never questions these dreams and instead cherishes them. She looks forward to falling asleep every night to be with Max.
We soon find out that Max is not merely a figment of Alice’s imagination. He is a real, living boy and he is a student at Alice’s new school. Most of the plot revolves around Alice discovering why she has been dreaming of Max for her entire life, and what that means for her future. This book is part science-fiction, coming of age and definitely has some Eternal Sunshine vibes.
While this wasn’t a five star book for me, I would recommend it solely on the unique premise. It was unique with it’s offbeat plot and quirky, realistic characters in the beautiful city of Boston. I adored the dream sequences- Alice and Max have all kinds of adventures in their dreams from rafting down a river of milk on Cinnamon Toast Crunch boats to coloring the walls of an entire museum.
The lack of explanation of the science behind this story worked with the dreamy (no pun intended) feel of the book, but I’m someone who always wants answers. As Alice and Max search for answers about their dreams, they undergo ‘tests’ and ‘studies’ and look for ‘research’ but these words are thrown around without attaching any kind of real, fact-based meaning to them. This made the focus of the story more about Alice’s coming of age and learning to accept herself. And of course, the growing real relationship between her and Max in the real world.
I also wasn’t a huge fan of the “I’m in love but he has a girlfriend” plot line, but it wasn’t emphasized and easy enough for me to overlook and enjoy the rest of the story. I understand that the Max and Alice romance had to have some kind of obstacle in it but I’m just not a huge fan of the almost-cheating and cheating plot devices to facilitate a new relationship.
This book was a sweet story about growing up with a unique, soft science-fiction twist. It’s a quick read and I read it in the midst of a reading slump so it definitely held my attention. I recommend if this sounds interesting to you!