Books: The Cheapest Vacation You Can Buy

{July 27, 2011}   Dreams Unleashed, by Linda Hawley

From Goodreads: It’s the near-future year of 2015, where technology governs life.  In this dystopian world, governments control their citizens by tracking them with RFID.  The right to personal privacy does not exist.  The heroine, Ann Torgeson, having been trained by the CIA as a paranormal spy at nineteen years old, has enhanced abilities.  Twenty-five years later, she lives a double life:  first, as a technical writer for a tidal energy company in the Pacific Northwest, and second, as a member of the worldwide anti-government subversive organization, called GOG.  When Ann’s vivid dreams turn real, she questions whether the doorway between her subconscious and reality has been permanently altered.  When she starts to dig into her past, her present begins to unravel, leading the reader through events that twist and turn everything upside down.  Question everything you know is essential in this trilogy.

This is a really cool novel.  It’s well written, complex, interesting, funny, scary—this novel has it all!  Hawley has written a wonderful debut novel depicting the not so distant future with a “Big Brother is watching you” mentality.  The government’s involvement in individual lives is scary and, though the book is fictitious, the references to real/current political issues and people aides in making the novel that much scarier for the reader.  I was actually very impressed by Hawley’s ability to add both real and embellished events to her novel, and I was a little thrown off the first time Obama’s name was mentioned—Hawley’s use of real people and events brings the reader out of the land of fiction and strikes fear in their hearts, making them begin to question where our world is heading.  I think this was ingenious and really enjoyed this aspect of the novel.

In fact, I enjoyed all aspects of this novel.  The beginning drew me in very quickly as Ann is running from the FBI, and I was wrapped into the story in moments.  I will admit that, in the beginning, I struggled with separating Ann’s reality with her dream world, but as Hawley explains Ann’s life to the reader, it becomes obvious when Ann is dreaming and when she is not.  These lines will again begin to blur later on in the novel as Ann’s CIA training comes to the forefront but, by that time, the meshing of the dream world versus reality was extremely easy to follow.

In the beginning I was confused by the chapter titles, as they tend to jump around a lot—2015, 2011, etc., but I quickly learned that this backtracking was essential to the story.  Although everything is currently taking place in 2015, Hawley takes the reader back to 2011 and even the early 1990s in order to paint the background from Ann’s life in the “here and now,” which I really enjoyed once I figured that out (I’m a little slow…).

This novel is the first in the trilogy and I absolutely cannot wait to read the rest of the novels—it is that good!  The paranormal aspect of the story was unexpected, but I found myself enamored by Ann’s ability and routing for her along the way.  Four stars!

I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

et cetera
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