Review: The Dreamer
Beatrice "Bea" Whaley might be losing her mind. Each night she dreams that she has journeyed back to Massachusetts in 1776, where a Revolutionary War soldier named Alan Warren is in love with her. He’s gorgeous and her nightly adventures are exciting, but aren’t they just dreams? Are they worth sacrificing real world happiness for? Or are her nighttime travels more than just fantasy?
The Dreamer: The Consequence of Nathan Hale, vol. 1
IDW Publishing, July 2009, ISBN: 978-1600104657
160 pages, $19.99
Innes’ graphic novel is the first collection of her webcomic. It is a creative mix of 21st Century teen-life and Revolutionary War-era historical fiction. Though Innes sometimes skirts the edge of crazy mess, she manages to pull off a win by careful plotting, an appealing main character, and just a hint of melodramatic romance.
Time travel plots are always tricky to make believable, which is why Innes’ decision to use Bea’s dreams as the mode of travel is so inspired. Readers are spared the need to understand the mechanics of the travel at the beginning of the story, allowing them the get sucked into the tale. I’m assuming that as the story goes on the time travel elements will have to be explained more, but for now the ambiguity of Bea’s situation is exciting. Bea is part of that excitement. Her wide-eyed acceptance of her strange new situation is believable as she is portrayed as dreamy romantic with aspirations of being an actress. It makes sense that she would be caught up in the fun of being someone new in a different place and time, especially when there is a handsome man in love with her. Bea’s attraction to both 1776’s Alan Warren and Ben, a classmate and longtime crush, adds much needed romantic tension, making this a great possibility for readers looking to swoon a little.
As this is the first volume, there are some minor stumbling blocks. A few typos should have been caught and just a bit of the language of the Revolutionary soldiers sounds anachronistic, but those are both small complaints. Many of the other characters need to be fleshed out further, though I am betting that that will happen as the series continues. Alan’s motives for loving Bea are not completely expressed in this volume, but Innes is careful to show readers that that is because of Bea’s memory lapses which are probably due to the time travel and because he is not really the type of man to talk about himself. His strong-jawed maturity makes him even more appealing as a romantic lead, however.
Innes’ art is mostly a plus. She has a strong sense of both pacing and scene setting. Little details around each panel make the locales come to life and she’s not afraid to take her time and spread a scene out over several panels if needed. This makes for smooth reading and allows readers to catch their breath after the action scenes. But while she has nice touch for faces–making them full of expression, distinct from one another, and believably proportioned–her hands and arms need work. There were enough times when they were so out of proportion as to throw me out of the reading.
While the cover for volume one seems very sexy, the story itself is not inappropriate for a teen collection. There is some blood and fighting, as should be expected for a historical fiction story set during war, but overall Innes’ tale is fairly tame. It’s a nice choice for libraries looking for hard to find historical fiction graphic novels for teenagers. And the romance element should make this one a likely choice for girls.
This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © IDW.
About Snow Wildsmith
Snow Wildsmith is a writer and former teen librarian. She has served on several committees for the American Library Association/Young Adult Library Services Association, including the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She reviews graphic novels for Booklist, ICv2's Guide, No Flying No Tights, and Good Comics for Kids and also writes booktalks and creates recommended reading lists for Ebsco's NoveList database. Currently she is working on her first books, a nonfiction series for teens.
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