Adara Quick’s “Dream Protocol”: Dystopia for kids

This was a quick and fun read that I received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Quick’s Dream Protocol takes place in a dystopian society within an underground facility on Skellig Island a couple hundred years in the future. The premise is that this society originated as a dream resort, where people used to go to have manmade dreams implanted into their sleep that produce anything they desire- a beach scene, casinos, etc. At some unconfirmed time, the resort became a dictatorial community in which no one can sleep without the artificial dreams and they are reliant on the government, which produces said dreams. Given the small space in which the community takes up, they are condemned to an unknown fate by the age of 35 when they are sent into a hole in the ground which the government states is Tir Na Nog, which in Irish mythology is the Land of the Young, or the Otherworld. Our main character Deidre, who is fifteen, finds this state of the world unacceptable. Paired with her best friend Flynn, who is afflicted with an aging disease, she will do anything to change the status quo and find out what really happens beyond their little society.

First off, the cover is what drew me into requesting this book, and I warn you, it is misleading. All of these events occur below ground, and it feels pretty claustrophobic. (Think Hunger Games District Thirteen). Second of all, there are so many interesting ideas in this book packed into way too few pages for it to really work. The dystopian government system, the artificial dreams and their origins, and even Flynn’s aging disease are all concepts tat should be more fully explored, but instead are flown through. I get that this is probably meant for younger audiences, but that doesn’t mean you have to confine all of these thoughts into such a small format.

My other issue with this is the writing in general. Dream Protocol reads as though no one has edited it at all. The dialect is some sort of Scottish, but it comes off as kitschy and half-done instead because some parts break into generic English. The descriptions aren’t fully fleshed out and the grammar (which normally doesn’t bother me) is pretty atrocious. Maybe this was just on the Kindle edition, but it was bad enough to be distracting and confusing.

I would recommend for a younger reader once it has been edited a bit, but for now, it seems a little rough. I enjoyed the story and hope to read the next one, however. Two Waves out of five- for the kids with big imaginations!

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