Parents' Guide to

Dealing in Dreams

By Mary Cosola, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Violence and loyalty explored in tedious dystopian tale.

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This violent, action-packed book carries some important messages about loyalty, identity, and politics, but it can be tiresome in its telling. At its best, Dealing in Dreams shows the dangers of blind loyalty and unquestioning political beliefs. While the violence is over the top at times, author Lilliam Rivera effectively highlights the corrosive nature of hatred and violence and shows that we should be wary of those in power who stir up these feelings among their people. The story's told through gang leader Nalah's eyes. Anger is fundamental to who she is as a person, and she doesn't know how to exist without it fueling her thoughts and actions. She does have her doubts and fears, but she forces herself to stay strong and resolute. These qualities make her a good leader, in that she doesn't waver and loyalty to her gang is a top priority. And even though her inner struggle is interesting, her stubbornness and refusal to see reality get increasingly exasperating as the story goes on. Her thoughts are repetitive and her character takes too long to develop. Nalah's character arc shows readers the danger of shutting down your emotions, but it makes for frustrating reading. The gang's mission into enemy territory offers some excitement and intrigue, but the story's ending doesn’t offer enough of a resolution.

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