Chances are, if you’re a reader, you’re also a dreamer. Books, much like dreams, have that wonderful ability to transport you someplace magical. Epic fantasy realms where you can fly, breathe underwater, fight dragons. Intense visions of the future with galaxy-spanning space battles. Or you know, just a world where that certain someone is as smitten with you as you are with them.
So it’s really no surprise there are scores of YA books that feature the world of dreams as powerful, fascinating settings. Whether dreams are actual places a brave protagonist can go, or the dreams themselves decide to become real, dreaming opens up a lot of fun possibilities in fiction. Here are five YA books that explore them.
Dreamstrider, by Lindsay Smith
In this exciting standalone fantasy, we meet Livia, who is, as you might guess from the title, a dreamstrider. She can enter the world of dreams, and through it, affect people who slumber. Trained by a brilliant scholar and scientist, she uses her gifts as a dreamstrider to explore the dreams of enemies, inhabit their bodies, and get information. But, she isn’t that great at it. So what happens when you’re supposed to be the hero, but you’re not the best at what you do?
There’s so much to love in this world that I’m hard pressed to figure out what to highlight. You’ve got the layers upon layers of political intrigue, built up as a result of two kingdoms on the cusp of a war that’ll ravage the physical world and the world of dreams (if you’ve read Smith’s Sekret duology, you know she loves the political intrigue). And then there are the characters, memorable and flawed, and the romances and betrayals that weave throughout. And then, of course, we have the story, which is thrilling, imaginative, and just un-put-down-able.
Dreamland, by Robert L. Anderson
In Anderson’s debut novel, readers meet Odea Donahue, a girl with a gift as unique as her name. Ever since she was a child, she could travel through the dreams of others, a gift her mother is all too familiar with. Much like the time travel in the film About Time (please see that movie, btw), there are rules for her dream travels: Don’t cause trouble, don’t be seen by the dreamer, and don’t visit the same dreamer’s mind more than once.
Of course, things don’t go that smoothly, not when dreams are involved. Odea meets a boy who makes her feel like less of an oddity (odea-ity?) and breaks the rules her mother set in place. And the boundaries between dreams and real life start to fall apart.
Dreamology, by Lucy Keating
This one isn’t out till April, so keep dreaming about it till it’s here. In Keating’s debut, the world of dreams starts to bleed into the real one for a teenager named Alice. And for a while, that doesn’t seem like such a bad thing. She’s been in love with Max almost her whole life, and they’ve been through so much together. It’s just a little weird that he has appeared in person at her new school—because before now, she has only known him in her dreams. But what happens when the one thing you’ve been dreaming about all your life doesn’t turn out to be what you thought it was?
Everybody Sees the Ants, by A.S. King
Instead of dreams starting to pour into reality, this one is about reality trying to creep into dreams, a place Lucky Linderman goes to escape. Living with a dysfunctional family and dealing with bullies at school, Lucky revels in his time dreaming. Here, he can hide from everything that torments him during the day.
In his dreams, there are talking ants, strange creatures, and a war-torn jungle in Laos, where he is the hero of the story his father tells again and again. It’s here that he spends time with his grandfather, who was killed in the Vietnam war, but survives in his dreamworld. It’s a really powerful novel about coping with trauma, and touches on some really intense themes, as all A.S. King books do. Pick it up.
Dream a Little Dream, by Kerstin Gier
When Liv relocated to London, her dreams start to get…well, weirder. First it’s little things, like scary doors and statues that talk. And then there’s the boys she keeps seeing, practicing what looks like magic in a graveyard at night. But there’s something strangely familiar about them…
And surprise! Dreams are pouring over into reality in Gier’s Dream a Little Dream, when those boys turn out to be her classmates at her new London school. And they know so much about her. But how could they? Lots of mysteries, family drama, and hilarity abound in this one, the first in Gier’s Silber trilogy, which are already out in German. The translations for books two and three will hit this year and in 2017.