I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
There were a lot of good ideas in this book - the general premise, the school for dreamscapers -- basically people who shape all dreams -- which can be visited either in either lucid dreams or in one's physical body, the Sandstorm prison, the "haunted house", just to name a few. Apart from a few things that were not fully explained, this book did at least do a good, largely well-paced job of fantasy-world-building (and for a book this long, it better have).
Unfortunately, for me, the good ideas did not trump the poor execution. There were problems with grammar, punctuation, various "isms", characterization, POV-jumping -- you name it and it was problematic. It feels like this book was never edited or proofed at all. In fact, all of this was so bad that I actually feel a bit used. It's as if the author is using his Read-2-Reviewers as editors, rather than sending a real finished book out into the world.
Aside from grammar, punctuation, and word-choice problems, this was just WORDY WORDY WORDY. I'm not sure how to best describe this... It was like, the author was watching his story as a movie in his head and trying to describe every action with as much detail as possible so that his readers would be able to mentally replicate his vision. I'm sure that this comes from a good place - that the author loves his created world so much that he wants to render it exactly - but it's really a snooze to read, and takes away readers' ability to imagine and perhaps love this world, too. Description is nice; too much description is not, and can even border on insulting. There is also a lot of e-ink wasted on unfunny jokes.
Related to the "wordy" problem is that many of the characters speak in really affected ways. They tend to speechify, for example, and those who do not speechify go the opposite direction, not speaking enough and being given to giggling and catchphrases. The two extremes also tend to be divided along gender lines, too. Another problem concerning character voices is the rather unfortunate coding of certain characters as black via some really offensive linguistic stereotyping. At one point during a battle towards the end, I half-expected one character to shout of "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies!" (And though it's not a linguistic issue, this book also has racially problematic tones in its portrayal of skinwalkers, due to a too-heavy reliance on the Magical Native American trope.)
I won't go into more detail regarding inconsistent and/or unrealistic characterizations, which abound, but I will say that this issue is not helped by the random POV-jumping. The book is basically from Matthew Namely's POV, but there are also very frequent injections of other characters' motivations and feelings, usually but not always when they are about to perform an action or speak to Matthew, that Matthew would not be able to know. These are seemingly accidental; I get the impression that the author just didn't realize he was doing it, or that he would have to make a conscious decision about whether to go with a straight-on Matthew POV or an omniscient narrator. Or, just completely rearrange the structure of the book so as to have different scenes shown from different POV's. Again, I think this stems from the author's "movie in his head". That is, when one is watching a movie that has a central POV, one can still get camera shots of other characters' faces, which can reveal their secret motivations and feelings to the audience, if not to the central character. Unless you're writing a screenplay, this is a lot harder to pull off on the page.
I have been waffling back and forth between giving this 1 or 2 stars, because even though I didn't like it and found it a struggle to keep reading, I did like some of the ideas and scenes. I wish I could give it 1.5. I am perplexed by the number of good reviews that other readers have given this book. The problems were just WAY too much for me.
(reviewed 36 days after purchase)