And, of course, there are the dreams . . . every night she has the same nightmare. Running away from something unseen, accompanied by the constant, pervading sense that she must flee as fast as she can. It is clear from the very start that these dreams are more than what they appear; they are clearly a symptom of something much more significant in Tess’ story.
As with so many YA story constructs, we soon encounter a handsome, but mysterious, young man. He and Tess are immediately attracted to each other, but intrigue and circumstances beyond their control keep them apart at almost every juncture. The romantic interest in Chaysing Dreams (who is - SPOILER ALERT - intricately tied to the title of the book) is very appealing, if a bit too terse for my taste. He borders on “bad boy” without really committing to it. I would have liked to have had a reason to doubt his motivations a bit more. Author Jalpa Williby did, however, succeed in creating a believable attraction between our two main characters, and I enjoyed their chemistry as they get to know each other.
It is important to note that in spite of its obvious YA leanings, the story leaves the established YA romance boundary and crosses over very firmly into straight out erotica. While I had no objections, it doesn’t lend itself very well for recommendation to a younger audience.
In spite of the building mystery and promise of romantic intrigue, I wasn’t hooked into Chaysing Dreams until well past the half-way point of the story. Williby’s prose and plot construction are in need of significant maturing. Her dialogue is frequently stilted and too frequently punctuated with exclamation points. The exposition in the early sections of the book felt formulaic and overly declarative.
The most pressing area in need of improvement, however, was in the timing of the plot. Over the early sections of the book, we age with Tess from 15 to 21 years of age. Williby forces the timeline forward with jarring and unnatural suddenness. In many cases, I felt there were some easy editing choices that were missed. Simply re-sectioning some of these time-machine jumps into independent chapters would have reduced the audience’s whiplash considerably.
As we reach the second half of the book, we settle into a logical time frame and leave behind the exposition-heavy setup. The story builds in tension, if a bit slowly, and by the time we reach the climax, I felt that Williby had succeeded in pulling together the skeleton of an exciting plot. It is clear that the story is meant to progress into a sequel, and I would expect, with some attention to the maturing of the dialogue, plot timing, and exposition, that Williby has the potential for a very intriguing follow up.