Happy Wednesday, guys!
Today, we're reviewing Nightmare Escape by Greg Grunberg - yes, that Greg Grunberg - and Lucas Turnbloom.
This was a debut graphic novel for the actor, and he and Lucas Turnbloom have written a book series that is slightly shaky structurally, but should be worth keeping up with.
Read on for more!
Expected publication: June 28th 2016 by GRAPHIX
Format read: Finished copy via publisher
Ben has a problem. When he sleeps, he dreams, and when he dreams, they're all nightmares! But he can also jump into other people's dreams. So when his friends start falling victim to an evil dream-monster that prevents them from waking, Ben knows he has to help them. Easier said than done when dreams can shift and the monster knows his way around the ever-changing landscape of the mind! With help from a talking rabbit-companion who has a mysterious past, Ben might just be able to defeat the monster and save his friends . . . if he can figure out how to use the power within him against his enemies.
I'm a pretty big Greg Grunberg fan - he's basically been a favorite since Alias - so when Scholastic sent me a finished copy of Nightmare Escape, I eagerly dove right in. While it didn't exactly rock my world like The Nameless City, I came out of it definitely intrigued.
Grunberg has created an engaging world, where Ben has the ability to jump into a dreamscape that's interconnected with everyone else's dreams. However, he's not the only one with the ability; there are both those in the real world and the dream world who have that ability, and are willing to manipulate it for their own reasons.
While the idea of dream jumpers/fighting it out in dreams isn't necessarily new to fiction - just see Nightmare on Elm Street as an example - Grunberg's youth-orientated approach is definitely an invigorating approach. He shows the struggles involved with Ben trying to grapple with a legacy he knows very little about and hardly understands, and how it's literally a trial-by-fire, as he's thrown headfirst into a world full of nightmares and very-real battles.
Though the overall story follows a number of expected tropes, including a wise/enigmatic guide; a pre-determined destiny and a missing father; Grunberg's story structure and snappy writing does pull the reader through the book, from beginning to end, with plenty of loose ends that will pave the way for the second book.
All in all, the story is also nicely accentuated by Lucas Turnbloom's vivid drawings; he does a nice job of creating a brightly vivid real world, and a a dark, foreboding nightmare landscape.
That's not always true for other books that have similar premises to this, so it still makes me very excited to see how the Dream Jumper series pans out. I can't wait to see Ben's understanding of his own legacy, and the secrets intertwined with his family's past.
Strongly recommend for fans of graphic novels, and also for fans of urban fantasy tales.
About the author/illustrator:
Greg Grunberg is best known for his roles in the award-winning series Heroes, Alias, and Felicity. Dream Jumper is his first graphic novel, which was inspired by dreams described by his son, Ben. Greg lives in Los Angeles, California.
Lucas Turnbloom is an award-winning cartoonist and illustrator who's best known for his comic strip, "Imagine THIS." He was a contributing artist for Darkhorse's Axe Cop graphic novel series. His work has also appeared in USA Today and TIME.com. Lucas currently resides in San Diego with his wife and two sons.