Sunday, March 29, 2009

Weirdly limber sisters, 1944 + Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox

Check out this craziness -- but fast forward to the one-minute mark, because it's just singing until then, and then it gets a little wacky. That thing they do about 1:35 in? Whuuut? Aieeee!
Eek! Thanks to my dad, for emailing that link on the first day of his retirement :-)

I finished this book yesterday and immediately wanted book 2 (of two), Dreamquake, in my hands. Luckily for me, it is already published and the chances of my getting it today are very good. I'm just waiting till noon to see if the neighborhood children's book store (Portland's only independent children's book store happens to be a meager few blocks from my house) has it in stock.

Have you heard of the Dreamhunter series? The author, Elizabeth Knox, is from New Zealand, and this book takes a very original and mysterious premise, gives it a believable historical setting that feels like it could be of our world, and fleshes it out with terrific characters: two 15-year-old protagonists and their parents. In a nutshell: it's the early 1900s and Laura and her cousin Rose are two privileged girls raised together in a joint household by their parents, two of whom -- Laura's father and Rose's mother -- happen to be the most celebrated of all dreamhunters.

What are dreamhunters? Well, this world is a normal early-19th-century world except for one thing: there is a place, called the Place, where only a handful of people are able to go. The border is invisible, and you only know if you can cross it by attempting it. If you seem to vanish into thin air, you are one of the few. If not, you'll never, ever be able to access that mysterious place. Of those few who can, an even smaller number can become dreamhunters, meaning that when they go to sleep inside the Place they can catch dreams, bring them back out to the normal world, and "perform" them in dream palaces, which are like opera houses where everyone sleeps and lives the dreamhunter's dream along with them. (Not all dreams are performed in palaces; as the book unfolds, other, less socially acceptable dreamhunter niches are revealed.)

But what is the Place, really? No one knows, but Laura's father, the most famous dreamhunter and the one who discovered the Place, is on to something, something dark that the government wants covered up. And when he vanishes on the eve of Laura's "Try" (when she will attempt her first crossing and discover if she too is a dreamhunter), he leaves the mystery to her to solve . . .

. . . and by the end of the book, the mystery is still very much in play, which is why I must get Dreamquake today. It was a Printz honor book last year, by the way, and I hope and expect it will live up to the promise of book 1.

[By the way, as a side note: people who accidentally buy a book twice because the UK or Australian edition has a different title than the US edition, don't take it out on the author by giving the book 1 star on Amazon. You idiot. It's not the author's fault, and it's not a scam to try to trick you into buying multiple copies. Foreign editions are often renamed, for all kinds of reasons, and duplicity is just not one of them.]

I recently read another book I really liked, this one middle-grade and not fantasy: The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy. It's about two 13-year-old friends who win a writing competition and are invited to partake in a summer writing program at UC Berkeley. Both girls come from imperfect homes, and the book traces how their journeys as writers helps them to understand their own situations, see their parents as people and not just parents, and really grow. An excellent book for young writers. And old writers.

19 comments:

leximel said...

Oh my god! I have a hard time believing that those sisters are actually human! It's pretty amazing.

No, its' VERY amazing.

Also thanks for the book suggestions! I'm excited to read them.

Q said...

They must not possess bones. That is the only explanation.

Suzanne Young said...

Wow! Just... wow. haha. I have to say, I started to get confused at one point, realizing that this was before special effects.

Man. To be made of rubber AND be singers? What a lucky family. :-)

EJ Griffin said...

I am using The Wild Girls in my seventh grade ELA class to teach Fiction Writing. It's a great book.

Emily said...

oh my goodness, oh my goodness. those are some unique sisters. lol.

thanks for the book recommendations. :)

Charlotte said...

Dreamhunter sounds great! (computer too old and slow for videos :( )

tanita davis said...

Thank you, am now utterly squicked out by whatever... weird... sister... limberosity that was.

I LOVED the Dreamhunter duo. I am hoping to see other things by this author. Really, really great books. You'll enjoy Book 2 - so much explained, but the mystery also deepens.

Laini Taylor said...

Hi Tanita! Went to two bookstores yesterday and couldn't get Dreamquake!!! But I did pick up one of her adult novels as a consolation. Still, I may venture out today in quest of Dreamquake. I want to read it while Dreamhunter is still fresh in my mind!

Charlotte said...

oh god I've watched the video now and it was grosssssss...especially the bit where the one goes backwards off the farm truck thinngy. Tthey are like alien space slime creatures from Star Trek.

Laini Taylor said...

Alien space slime creatures! So funny. It's bad enough when she goes backward off the thing. But then. . . she gets herself back UP. HOW?????

tone almhjell said...

Scary, scary ladies! Must read Donald Duck or commence other non-disturbing activity right now (it's what I do when I have nightmares).

Deirdre said...

I haven't even finished reading your post - that video has me speechless. I don't think the human body is supposed to do that. Really. It's enough to drive me right back to working on my taxes.

Jessica Day George said...

Yes, but the real question is: What the @#$% is that whole scene FOR? Why are they singing a disturbing song about potato salad, and then doing grotesquely rubbery gymnastic moves in a barn anyway? WHY?

Wyman said...

Excellent Reviews! Would like to read book one and two myself, based on your description. Sounds fascinating! The Wild Girls, sounds like a much needed book in the world we live in today. Thanks!!!

Wyman said...

Oops!!! Almost forgot the gals in the Video. Now, that's what I call PHYSICAL FITNESS!!! I cringed in pain at one point myself. I am sure I must have seen one or two of their old movies as a kid, but for the life of me, I don't remember that scene from any movie I've seen. If they had kids, do you think they were born pretzels?

Christine Fletcher said...

Man, that makes my back hurt just to look at it. No bones, yeah, and abs of STEEL.

Dreamquake sounds fabulous! And congrats to your dad on his new retirement.

persnickety_jen said...

What could induce a person to put their face in their sibling's crotch and perform a three-person cartwheel? O_o

DREAMHUNTER sounds phenomenal. Thanks for the review!

Shari said...

What the heck was in that solid potato salad anyway?

Charlotte said...

Hi Laini,

Just finished Dreamhunter. Want book 2. Now.