Walking through the YA section of the bookstore last night I realized there are clearly only two ways to survive high school: you can plot and scheme and gossip behind your friends’ backs; or you can follow the fairies (werewolves, vampires, your choice) away into another world.

This explains so much about my own high school experience.

Finished Elizabeth Knox’s Dreamquake (the second Dreamhunter book) last night. Have copies of my own on order so I can read them again sometime. The last half of the book there were several oooooh and wow moments–and then one thing I thought was surely going to happen, only to give up on it, only to have it happen after all.

The premise of these books is relatively simple: there’s a Place where certain people–dreamhunters–can go to catch dreams and then emerge back into this world to deliver/perform them for others. Yet from that the author spins out a million small and large grounded worldbuilding details that made me believe in the Place, rather than seeing it as merely a convenient fiction from which to spin out a story.

(Go to www.rot13.com and paste in the spoilers below to decode them–you can put any responses into rot13 if you don’t want to spoil others in turn.)

Naq gura gur nhgube tbrf nurnq naq qrfgeblf ure perngvba. Naq rira gubhtu V xarj fur zvtug qb gung–V guvax qbvat fb jnf cerggl pyrneyl ba gur gnoyr sebz gur fgneg–V ybir gung fur qvq qb vg. Qbvat vg jnf rknpgyl gur evtug guvat sbe gur fgbel.

Jung qvq fhecevfr zr, gubhtu, jnf abg gur qrfgeblvat bs gur cynpr, ohg gur zbzrag jura Fnaql Znfba fubjrq hc (rneyvre V gubhtug ur zvtug; ohg V’q ybat fvapr tvira hc ba gung cbffvovyvgl). Uvf fheiviny punatrf rirelguvat: znxvat gur shgher jr’q frra abg varivgnoyr, guebjvat gur jbeyq jvqr gung’f whfg orra qrfgeblrq jvqr bcra ntnva, naq nybat boyvgrengvat Pnf Qbena’f fzht pregnvagl gung rirelguvat jbhyq jbex bhg sbe uvz orpnhfr bs jung ur’q frra va uvf bja qernzf. Naq yrfg jr jbaqre jurgure guvatf nera’g qrfgvarq gb unccra gur jnl Ynhen fnj gurz nsgre nyy, jr unir gjb guvatf: gur nobyvfuzrag bs uneq ynobe sbe pbaivpgf, naq zber, gur snpg gung ure bja puvyq unf gur ynfg anzr Znfba, naq fb pna’g or tebjvat hc gb or gur fnzr puvyq nf Ynmnehf Unzr. Guvaxvat nobhg gur gjb bs gurz yvivat fvqr ol fvqr va gur jbeyq (naq Ynmnehf jngpuvat guvatf hasbyq n frpbaq gvzr, bayl qvssreragyl) znxrf zl urnq uheg, ohg va n tbbq jnl.

Naq gur tbyrzf! Gur tbyrzf jrer vagrteny abg bayl gb gur cybg ohg gb gur ragver rkvfgrapr bs gur cynpr, jura V jnf fb fxrcgvpny nobhg hfvat gurz ng nyy ng svefg. Ybiryl, ybiryl, ybiryl.

But really it’s the inventiveness of the Place and the world–combined with the textured and real feeling of the somehow still dreamlike prose–combined with characters who are also real and distinct and nearly every last one of them significant–that makes this book work for me.

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