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Dream Life Hardcover
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Claire is feeling left out as Dream Life begins. Her best friend Becca is ignoring her and hanging out with friends from her old school. Claire's secret boyfriend, Andy, is avoiding her for reasons she can't understand. It turns out that Becca's cagey behavior stems from her new membership in a secret society. Things get better as Becca brings Claire into her world. The Blue Moons are a secret do-gooder society. But their secret and corresponding ability to help the citizens of New York are threatened by someone who is trying to expose them. It's up to Claire to discover and stop the person(s) before the world knows all about the Blue Moons.
The plot of Dream Girl sounds, and really is, rather silly, but I loved it nonetheless. Claire is such a fun girl - sarcastic, daring, and smart. She has a lot of self-confidence but still has the same insecurities about her appearance as every teenage girl. I love her designer vintage clothes - thanks to her fashion-maven grandma. Kiki, the grandma, is a shining star of Dream Girl and Dream Life. Claire really relies on Kiki both for moral support, fun, and advice. She loves her parents, but Kiki is the one who understands her. We also see more of Claire's friends, Becca, Lewis, Ian, and Andy, along with some new characters. Each person in the story has a distinctive voice and three-dimensional character. They felt real.
Claire's visionary dreams are extremely well-done. Claire doesn't see the future. She see hints - clues and symbols. She has to carefully observe life to make the subtle connections between life and dreams. Lauren Mechling plays to the reader's intelligence with the dreams. She requires Claire, and by extension, me to actually think. Every dream is a fascinating read, in its zany weirdness.
I highly recommend Dream Life. The only part of the book I disliked was the last page - no more Claire to enjoy. I can't wait for Mechling's next book.
The most outstanding thing about this series is its gold medal-worthy characters. Claire is not your average teen chick lit heroine: she's smart, she's snarky, and she has a way of narrating that will leave us chuckling and wondering why we didn't think of it ourselves. Likewise, I'm flabbergasted at the way Lauren writes atypical supporting characters, ones whose existence lies beyond being merely a plot device, or the MC's loyal, opinion-less sidekick.
In fact, even though DREAM LIFE is at its core a gentle mystery novel, I loved the way everything didn't revolve around the mystery. As in real life, there is more than one issue in a person's life, and so it is with Claire. Lauren blends the mystery element with family eccentricities, friends' troubles, choppy romantic waters, and more, to create a well-rounded, enjoyable, yet utterly relatable tale.
Similar to DREAM GIRL, the mystery aspect of this novel requires a bit of suspension of disbelief in order to believe. Secret society novels are rather overdone, and the creed of the one in DREAM LIFE is, well, a little silly and ridiculous. Still, one cannot deny Lauren's skill at writing these novels. If you haven't yet read this series, I highly recommend you pick it up. As far as lighthearted yet intelligent fluffy mysteries go, you can't get much better than this.
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