Dreamers, by Christian R. Bonawandt

bonawandt-dreamers book coverGenre: Fantasy
Publisher: Stone Garden Publishing
Published: 2004
Reviewer Rating: one star
Book Review by Jeff Edwards

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George Delgado’s world shatters when he discovers that the Earth is nothing more than a dream and that he is a dream walker. Rudely awakened to this reality, he is recruited to fight Rothin — a killer whose sole purpose is to bring death, destruction and chaos to as many worlds as possible. “Del Gato” travels through a number of dream worlds, meets new companions and loses others in battle, encounters strange creatures, and even reaches a deeper understanding of his purpose in life while ceaselessly chasing Rothin the Deadly.

In his debut novel Dreamers, Christian R. Bonawandt makes references to “Star Trek” and “Star Wars,” but his book draws more inspiration from two other famous science-fiction franchises. As Del Gato moves through dreams in pursuit of the murderous Rothin, readers may be reminded of “The Terminator” and the way Reese traveled through time in his desperate attempt to stop the killer cyborg. Bonawandt’s dream walkers — avatars of infinite dream worlds who harness dream energy to aid in their battles — also share traits similar to Neo and his followers in “The Matrix.” One scene in the novel even has characters moving like Neo before launching into flight (“Rothin…squatted as though to pick something up, then bounced straight up, hands over his head, and crashed through the roof”).

There is no way to review Dreamers without acknowledging that the book needs much stronger proofreading and editing. Diligent proofreading would have caught and corrected the ubiquitous errors that hinder enjoyment of the story. Mistakes run from minor gaffes like misplaced commas (“The, small, frail creature darted off”) and misspelled words (a character’s name is even spelled incorrectly once) to more serious errors such as missing words in sentences (“Del Gato grabbed him by the coat hissed in his face”) and misleading pronouns.

The confusing pronoun usage is especially evident in the fight scenes; for a book that is primarily a series of battles, this is a problem indeed (“He beat his enemy with the blunt end of his bamba until he no longer moved. Hesitantly, he stood”). Bonawandt displays a fondness for phrases such as “cacophony” and “ad infinitum,” and awkwardly describes materials and textures (“rubberish,” “plastic-ish,” “vinyl-esque,” “spandex-ish,” “sandpaper-esque”).

Thoughtful editing would have corrected the author’s lapses into immature phrases that do not match the rest of the book’s tone (“Carlson’s eyes shot open like he had been grabbed in the balls”). Most disturbing are narrative descriptions that read like child abuse (“Like a stern father, Del Gato raised his hand to send it across Shelly’s face,” “By now the killer sat like a punished child, his throat tight under Del Gato’s strength,” and “He was as limp as a sleeping child — a sleeping child who just got the beating he deserved”).

Cleaning up the problems in the text would have allowed the author’s good work to shine through. Bonawandt opens the story on a strong note, presenting clues (the empty expanse of a double bed, an old photo) to show the reader that the protagonist has recently lost a loved one. The author consistently includes descriptive details (dew-drenched leaves, the droplets cooling Rothin’s face and chest) and does an admirable job depicting the characters’ transitions between dream worlds.

Above all, the novel is noteworthy for its use of existentialism — and the image of the Dreaming Lady presents a wealth of possibilities for potential sequels.

In Dreamers, Bonawandt writes, “It is the reaction of others to one’s actions that confirms one’s existence.” Like a character in his novel, Bonawandt is choosing his own destiny. He has written a novel; thus, he is a novelist — but whether or not he is successful will depend upon his commitment to the craft and a constant effort to improve.

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