One main rule governs the Dream Makers society—never meet your dreamer. During the modern day’s emotionally-suppressed culture, DREAMSCAPE tells the story of a Dream Maker’s attempt to create good dreams for 23-year-old Sasha Hayes. Despite her superficially perfect life, the reader witnesses Sasha’s uncontrollable anxiety build through the dark paths of her waking and sleeping mind. Sasha’s Dream Maker, 305—who she nicknames “Catcher”—is intrigued by her intense feelings, something he doesn’t experience as a non-human creature. As each chapter alternates between the Catcher’s and Sasha’s perspectives, Catcher fruitlessly tries to navigate her depression as it manifests as a dark energy throughout the dreams he creates for her. It isn’t until her last sleep cycle that he realizes in order for her to overcome her nightmares, he must create one.
With magical yet truthful elements from THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY by Matt Haig blending with the written style and emotional turmoil young adults face in Jennifer Niven’s ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES, this dreamy story takes the reader on winding paths through misconceptions and misperceptions about depression.
For half her life, Sasha Hayes has carried with her a repressed darkness that turns her dreams into nightmares. Her Dream Maker, Catcher, struggles against the force of this dark energy to create good dreams for Sasha. In Sasha’s waking life, she embarks on a one-way road trip to escape her darkening reality, only to find herself deeper in the throes of depression and anxiety. Meanwhile, Catcher is on a journey of his own. As a creature who has never experienced human emotion, he’s intrigued by Sasha’s intense feelings and wants to help Sasha out of her darkness. In order to do that, though, he decides he must go against the Dream Makers’ most sacred rule—never meet your dreamer.
As the two build a relationship in this mutual space in her dreams, Sasha’s attempt to run from her pain only prolongs it further, pushing her to attempt suicide and making it nearly impossible for Catcher perform his task and fulfill his purpose.
THE DARKEST EVENING OF THE YEAR
Magical realism meets literary fiction
THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY by Matt Haig—Like Norah Seed, Sasha struggles from depression, and goes on a surreal quest to come face-to-face with it. While this title is similar to this manuscript in its topic, genre, and conflict, the execution and depiction of mental illness is much different. Sasha’s depression and anxiety are shown rather than told, with physiological symptoms, while also bringing to light the difficulty in seeking help. Norah’s story ends with her realizing a new-found appreciation in life, but Sasha’s ends with her understanding that the first step to getting help is wanting it and seeking it out for herself.
ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES by Jennifer Nivren—This book flip-flops in perspectives between the two main characters, similar to this manuscript. Each character struggles with an internal conflict, and when their lives intersect, they find some peace with each other. This manuscript is a more fantastical take on addressing the issues around mental health.
CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger—This manuscript is reminiscent of the classic, with a modern day, magical twist and a young adult female’s perspective. Themes of coming of age, understanding one’s mortality, and seeking out a journey in oneself all translate into this manuscript as well. Similar to Holden, Sasha is her own antagonist, fighting against her nature and addressing her own mental illness.
Hook line: A Dream Maker’s desire to save his dreamer from her own darkness leads him to break his society’s most sacred rule.
Primary Conflict: A Dream Maker’s good dreams are manipulated and destroyed by a dark energy inside the mind of young woman, inspiring him enough to break his society’s rules and meet his subject.
Sasha’s dark energy (depression) dates back to childhood years, where she learned it was “wrong” to address negative emotion. With this understanding carried with her through life, her depression collects and eventually explodes. Her illness translates over into her dreams, where her Dream Maker, Catcher, struggles to create for her good, positive dreams. His desire for human connection is what eventually leads him to breaking the Dream Makers’ most sacred rule.
Protagonist inner conflict: As Catcher continues his Dream Maker training and learns more about the society, he becomes dissatisfied with the system that the Dream Makers have created. The more engrossed he becomes with Sasha, the more he desires to feel what humans feel, leading to his decision to break his society’s rules.
Secondary conflict: Catcher’s choices to reveal himself to his dreamer makes it harder for him to relate to the other Dream Makers. He lies to his trusted mentors, who expect reports from him, and puts his own life at risk.
The settings of this story jump between High Cloud (the Dream Makers’ realm), Sasha’s reality, and Sasha’s dreaming mind.
High Cloud is an ethereal space that lives invisibly in the clouds above the human world. It is made up of universal, natural energies. These energies are harnessed by the Dream Makers and used to communicate to each other, for example, when sensing others’ presences or when a dreamer is about to enter into a sleep cycle. The Dream Makers feel a sensation in their chest when their dreamer calls to them, and they transport down to the human world by pressing a hand to the wall in their portal. This opens up the gateway, and they teleport down to the human world, where they exist like ghosts—invisible energies, traveling.
Sasha lives in the outskirts of a young, un-specified city in the North East. Her apartment always contains some sort of light that she forgets to turn off, a quiet symbol for an undying hope that saves her at the end of the manuscript. Her apartment door often gets stuck as she tries to get inside her own space, a metaphor for her struggle to enter into her own mind. Books reveal her interest in words, including a collection of poems by Robert Frost. A bar not far from her apartment brings back haunted memories of her breakup, and since her heart break, she frequents the bar ordering the same drink at the same time as the night she first met her ex-boyfriend.
Her reality soon becomes an adventure as she embarks a road trip, involving fancy hotels and bizarre motels, with room numbers randomly and confusingly assigned. The room number in the hotel is what draws her Dream Maker in, for it is the same as his assigned identification number, 305. Finally, her journey comes to an end at Robert Frost’s grave, a place of mourning and closure, where Sasha can finally set her depression free and take part in her permanent sleep. “Miles to go before I sleep.”
Sasha’s dreaming mind is the mutual space where she and Catcher communicate with each other. The dark energy in her mind has an ominous presence, and her dreams are often distorted with it. Here, the images within the dream shift and change, but they always take place in deep, dark woods. These woods later become the maze that Catcher creates, one that she must overcome in order to start her journey for better mental health.