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Description⎮Reviewed Nov. 2016
Narrator: Heather Jane Hogan
Length: 11h 33m
Publisher: J.J. DiBenedetto⎮2013
4.25 ★ Audiobook⎮ Dream Student was a really solid read. It took me a couple of months to get through it, mostly because of its slow pace. This wasn’t the kind of story that immediately grabbed me, unlike my previous DiBenedetto experience with Finders Keepers. Dream Student was a much more laid-back listen.
In a way, the pace is sort of fitting for the premise. Dream Student is about pre-med student, Sarah Barnes, who suddenly finds herself with the ability to telepathically (and involuntarily) enter other people’s dreams. “Mellow” is a good way to describe the vibe of this story. Much of it takes place within dreams, including most of the early action.
A fair amount of suspension of disbelief is required, particularly where the romance is concerned. Fortunately, DiBenedetto does an excellent job of endearing the reader to Sarah’s romantic interest. The character development was strongest with the core three characters: Sarah, her boyfriend, and her best friend. To my pleasant surprise, Jane Barnaby, the protagonist from another of DiBenedetto’s series The Jane Barnaby Adventures, makes a cameo appearance.
Sarah and Jane attended college together in the late 1980s and early 1990s. That’s an interesting timeframe for a series and one not often seen, in my experience. It offers a neat glimpse into a time that I can barely remember. While listening to Dream Student, I kept having to make mental allocations for the time period. For example, it took me a few seconds to realize why one of the characters didn’t use their cell phone to call for help in the case of an emergency. Although this is certainly not historical fiction, the time period adds so much to the atmosphere of the overall story. The many pop-culture references are also a lot of fun!
Towards the end of Dream Student, the pace picked up considerably. I daresay the action near the ending had me on the edge of my seat. Although the first 75% of the story was nowhere near that intense, I was never really bored with it. DiBenedetto’s writing was pleasant and I enjoyed the process of experiencing the story unfold. The Dreams series has 12 installments, so I understand Mr. DiBenedetto needing to pace the plot. This approach allowed ample time for world building. This installment served as a solid foundation for installments to come.
I don’t think I enjoyed Sarah or Dream Student quiet as much as Jane and Finders Keepers, but I appreciate their differences. I plan to continue on with both series and I’m excited to see what DiBenedetto has in store for each of them. I already have the next two installments of the Dreams series and the ending of Dream Student teased something big to come, so I won’t wait long.
Narration review: Heather Jane Hogan captured the theme of this story magnificently. Her voice had a certain “dreamy” quality, especially during the dream sequences. I quickly learned not to listen to this audiobook in bed at night because Hogan’s voice lulled me to sleep on more than one occasion! Her narration pace is slow and soothing which added to the dream-like effect, but also increased the overall sense of slowness during the majority of the story. I appreciate the suitability of Hogan’s narration for the premise of the series, but I am also eager to experience it in an upcoming installment for comparison before making a final judgement. I’m expecting the following installments to be much more action-oriented now that much of the groundwork has been laid. ♣︎
➜ This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its author, J.J. DiBenedetto, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, J.J.!