Sunday, March 8, 2020

Dreamstalker by Barbara Steiner

I first read DREAMSTALKER when I was in middle school. Usually the young adult pulp was kept in a small bookshelf along the far wall, but somehow this one had gotten mixed in with the more sophisticated titles. The moment I saw that jagged font and horror movie cover, twelve-year-old me knew she was in for a treat.

This book is about twins named Karen and Kerr. Both of them are attractive but Karen is more popular than Kerr, even though he's the better looking one. He's needy and clingy and wants his sister to be with him all the time. Karen, however, is ready to move on from Kerr and be a little more independent.

Anyway, Karen starts having dreams that seem like they predict the deaths of her classmates. The school bully dies of an asthma attack with flowers shoved down his throat ("natural causes," say the police), her boyfriend gets crushed in a football match, her best friend dies of fear while covered in red paint ("natural causes" again), and then, soon, she starts dreaming of her brother's death, too.

Someone is trying to torture Karen-- but who? Why? And HOW?

I read another book by this author called THE MUMMY that was actually pretty good. It was kind of like something L.J. Smith would write-- paranormal romantic horror. This was more traditional YA horror movie thrills and chills. The dream sequences, which were terrifying when I was a kid, just seemed silly and cheesy now. The twist shocked me enough that I remembered it twenty years later, but I wasn't as impressed this second time around.

Also, THE PSYCHOLOGY IN THIS BOOK IS SO BAD. Karen's psych teacher keeps talking about dream symbolism, shadow dreams, and psychic abilities. I'm sorry, since when did Venkman retire from Ghostbusting and become a suburban Colorado high school teacher? That is not psychology and as someone who actually studied and has a degree in psychology, this made me cringe super hard.

Read this for the cheese factor, and to see the most incompetent doctors and policemen I've ever encountered in fiction, where murder is basically labeled a natural cause if you aren't found with a knife embedded in your throat.

2.5 out of 5 stars

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