Meet Liv Silver, or Olivia Silber (her dad was German but when they began to move around, changing their name was something he chivalrously endorsed.) Liv has a big enough family; a dog named Buttercup, a sister named Mia, a mother, and a housekeeper named Lottie who has been working and living with them long enough to be part of the family. The thing is, Liv and Mia's mom keeps meeting new people and having trouble with jobs and leading them all across Europe, so meeting friends has been pointless for a few years now. Now the family has moved in with the Spencer family, consisting of father Ernest, daughter Florence and son Grayson, and at their school there's a big school event coming up but Liv can't seem to wrap her mind around that when she dreams of some of the boys she met...and they seem to remember details of that dream. Soon Liv is thrust into a dreaming fantasy where something sinister is brewing in the cauldron and it may be up to her to stop an inevitable rerising, but first she has to figure out square from circle and what she's gotten herself into.
So why exactly did I not like the last two books of the Ruby Red trilogy, Sapphire Blue and Emerald Green? Here's a basic synopsis: There were two fugitives the main character's age on the run. There was a conspiracy within this centuries-old order keeping hold of our hero's nearly every move. And then the sequel became all about her obsession with her crush, Gideon, and about preparing for one time travel mission during the second act, whereas in the first book, there was time traveling and fun all over the place. And in Emerald Green, it waited too long to get going and ended up with an uncomfortable denouement. But honestly, Kerstin Gier is talented in her actual writing. Even if the story ends up as slow as a snail, she knows how to make her characters express funny thoughts and feelings about family and friendship dynamics. Liv talks to us about how she and Mia are being thrown like tennis balls to new places, and we understand how upset and tired she must be. Florence, their new sister, goes on a rant and it was quite a fiery one.
Sadly, Gier could only do so much before it's revealed that...barely anything is happening. There's a ball taking place, and Liv talks about how simplistic and blah the poster for it looks, and that's how I felt about everything building up to it, when Liv's the new girl and if I was a new kid at a school, a dance would be the least of my concerns. Look, it's hard to balance a fantasy story and a contemporary story. I've tried. The storylines often clash to the point where situations, dialogue and even sleeping can feel forced. It's like multi-tasking on two different but big assignments. By doing ten minutes of one and then switching to ten more minutes of another, you then have to look over what you did on that project prior and catch yourself up. As a result, both projects feel they are taking longer. Chapters go by with yes, funny writing, but chapters go by with just the thought of dates to the ball. Can we not just focus for a little while on the fact a demon is involved in this story? Because it never appropriately feels like any of this is evil business, and then the big reveal is ironically too fast.
Like her Ruby Red trilogy, Kerstin Gier displays talent in Dream a Little Dream at family dynamics and funny narration. She’s also good at coming up with fantasy storylines that beg to be explored – and leaving us unforgivably in the dark for almost the entire book. The next book is called Dream On, and like her previous trilogy, it ends with a good cliffhanger, but there was a note about how there were going to be unanswered questions such as if Lottie was going to end up with someone and something involving one or two of the boys, and this book includes skits for a school blog, and the sequel has them too. So...If I read Dream On, I don't expect it to be any better.