In this underwhelming SF romance from Berla (12 Hours in Paradise), high school senior Babe Fremont moves to Sugar Dunes, Fla., and starts having vivid dreams of a boy named Zat. Babe quickly falls for the handsome stranger, but their nightly visits come at a price: each morning, Babe wakes with a debilitating headache, and the pain is worsening. Babe fears she might have a brain tumor, but then Zat reveals the truth: he is from the far future, where the Earth is about to be consumed by the sun. When Babe and her family arrived in Sugar Dunes, scientists sent Zat’s consciousness back in time to live inside Babe’s dreams. Zat can’t exist independently of Babe, but as her symptoms increase, the two must consider whether his continued presence will kill them both. Berla spends too much time detailing Babe’s everyday activities and not enough exploring the mechanics of Zat’s existence or developing the couple’s relationship. Two-dimensional characters and an abrupt conclusion further undermine the novel’s intriguing premise. Ages 13–up. (July)
"Time travel, adolescent angst, and teen romance are skillfully blended in Berla’s intriguing novel. Zat comes from a distant future when the planet Earth is dying. He longs to see a blue ocean instead of gray sludge. To do so, he goes back in time and inhabits a contemporary teen’s dreams. Babe falls in love with this handsome figment of her nocturnal imagination. She lives through her day waiting for his dreamlike visits each night. But can Zat be real and one morning appear in the bright sun of Sugar Dunes, Florida? This romantic science-fiction novel with appealing and believable characters makes for a well-developed and absorbing read." -Joanna Kraus, The Mercury News Review
"Dream Meby Kathryn Berla is the perfect blend of alluring YA romance, sci-fi, fantasy, and a most profound message for humanity. I loved the depth of both the message and the characters inDream Me, and how Kathryn Berla crafted both together to produce one of the most compelling YA stories I have read." -Reviewed By Faridah Nassozi for Readers’ Favorite, 5 Stars
Gr 8 Up—Seventeen-year-old Babe is used to the unexpected. After all, this is just one of many times that her father has uprooted the family for a new job—this time in Sugar Dunes, FL. Zat is a dreamer from the future whose desire to travel to the distant past causes him to end up living in Babe's dreams. Babe and Zat immediately fall for each other, but Babe experiences paralyzing migraines when she wakes up. She longs for nighttime, when she can sleep and see Zat again. Stuck in Babe's dreams, Zat wonders if he'll be able to find a way to be with Babe in the real world. While the basic premise is appealing, the story falls short compared with other sci-fi romance titles. Though the narrative is concise, which may appeal to reluctant readers, this futuristic dystopian novel lacks complex world-building. The science fiction element feels like an afterthought, and readers won't relate to the thinly developed characters. Interspersed chapters titled "Babe's Blog" are inauthentic and out of place. VERDICT A supplemental purchase for collections in need of more sci-fi romance.—Kimberly Castle-Alberts, Akron-Summit County Public Library, OH
In this YA novel, a young man from Earth's far future visits a present-day teen in her dreams, but soon their connection is threatened. In a future era in which the Earth is dying, Zat plans a dangerous trip, time traveling to our present by projecting himself into the mind of a teenage girl while she sleeps. That girl, Babe, who's 17 (roughly Zat's age), is an adaptable, resourceful person thanks to her father's job as golf pro, which has caused them to move from state to state—most recently, from California to the Florida Panhandle. Over the summer, Babe learns about another new town, makes some friends, and works in the country club's tennis shop, and she also begins having recurring dreams of a boy with thick, wavy brown hair and green eyes, who eventually introduces himself as Zat. He seems strangely familiar, and they share a strong bond, making Zat a "dream guy" in every way—except for the crushing headaches Babe has the following day. To herself and on her blog, Babe wonders how Zat can feel "more real and more interesting than anyone…in real life." But can he achieve corporeality after time travel? And will he have to abandon the trip—and his life—to save Babe from unbearable pain? Berla (12 Hours in Paradise, 2016, etc.) delivers a very entertaining romance with well-thought-out sci-fi elements—one that's delightfully free of the clichés that so often haunt YA fiction. Both the story's rich-kid and queen-bee characters defy convention; Babe's friends have intriguing back stories, and the country-club setting gives the protagonist a chance to make perceptive comments about people and society. For example, while touring a palatial yacht, she remarks, "I knew money didn't buy happiness, but it was unbelievable what it did buy." Babe's blog opens up the story via the sometimes-silly, sometimes-mysterious comments of her readers: one of them wishes she would focus on Florida sightseeing; another, called "DreamMe," seems strangely knowledgeable about Babe's situation. The final twist isn't easy to see coming, and it gives the novel a satisfying, well-earned ending. A thoughtful, engaging novel that combines genres well.