Dreamhunters can catch and broadcast dreams. They are able to enter a sort of alternative reality - “the Place” and hunt and catch all sorts of dreams. They can then bring those dreams back and broadcast them to an audience of people. These performances are entertainment, sometimes relaxation, amusement or even healing. They can also sometimes be very very threatening. In Southland, a location that seems to evoke New Zealand, The Rainbow Opera is a Dream Performance / opera house with a central stage that Dreamhunters project from into small chambers full of their sleeping audience. The Rainbow Opera has had problems in the past with dreams and they are very serious about the management of their performances and their security. Even people living close to The Rainbow Opera have sometimes even found their sleep disturbed by powerful dream performances.
Laura is a Dreamhunter, coming slowly into possession of her gift. She is young, idealistic and driven by her belief in what is right. DREAMQUAKE starts off with a performance in The Rainbow Opera that goes horribly wrong, orchestrated it seems by Laura. A gruesome nightmare “Buried Alive” is broadcast, and as bloodied and traumatised patrons emerge from the performance, the dream industry is put under threat because of it. Laura's friends and family struggle to understand what she has done, Dreamhunters are disappearing, civil servants are plotting nationwide control and disturbing voices are emanating from “the Place”.
DREAMQUAKE has a definite epic feel to it. The story is big, bold, imaginative, layered and elaborately plotted. There's a real feeling of mystery, the fantastic, a soaring ride through “the Place”, through dreams, through forming principles and gaining experience. There's a sort of gloriousness in the way that the story unfolds. It also beautifully captures that feeling of the teenage angst ridden years. If it's happening to ME it is SO important... SO big... SO dramatic. The world that DREAMQUAKE exists in is also tantalising. There is not much landscape describing going on in the book, but there is enough to have a feeling or sense of “the Place” and Southland, and there are maps at the front of the book to help in case you get a bit confused.
DREAMQUAKE is the sequel to DREAMHUNTER, and both of these books appear to be written for a Young Adult audience, although they should have a wider appeal. Initially reading DREAMQUAKE this, long way from young adult reviewer, was a bit disconcerted by the style of the book, but that was only for a few chapters. Once you are into DREAMQUAKE you find yourself immersed in this other world environment.