Janie started being pulled into other people’s dreams when she was eight. At least, that’s when she noticed it. By the time she’s eleven, she’s sure that the dreams are wrecking the quality of her life. At a sleepover at BFF Carrie’s house, Janie falls into both a nightmare—Carrie is trying to save a drowning boy and can’t—and a dream of Melinda’s, Janie’s frienemy, that is just TMI.
Janie has no control over her entry into dreams. In high school, during study hall, lots of kids fall asleep and Janie tries to hide in the corner of the room in order to keep the dreams out. They are so terrifying to her, so deeply disturbing that she rattles and shakes, spasming in a way that appears to others that Janie is having a seizure. (No, I’m not sure why since the nightmare only scare the actual dreamers in the usual way.)
Cabel had been a dark, goth sort of troubled guy, but in her sophomore year, Janie notices that he has changed. He’s good-looking and smart. He is also troubled by a terrible dream of turning into a monster and killing someone. And for some reason, he knows that Janie is in his dream with him, seeing it all. (No, I’m not sure why.) Can Janie help him?
High school Housekeeping: This is a quick read based on a very interesting idea. It would have been nice if Janie’s internal universe—the dream-hopping, the efforts to help others, the way she learns to connect to people seeking help—had been better thought out and better detailed. The first 70 pages are more or less Janie entering and leaving dreams, shuttering, eyes rolling back into her head. So it’s about a third of the book before the story starts, and then there is little time to have it evolve. But, according to the book cover, this is the first book in a New York Times bestselling trilogy, so hats off to McMann for pulling off that tough achievement.