When readers last saw Ben (Nightmare Escape, 2016), he’d just learned about his power to jump into and affect the dreams of others; in this sequel, his skill is growing, and his best friend, Jake, acts as his business partner, operating from the waking world while Ben rescues dreamers from their nightmares.
As well as dealing with nightmare creatures created in human minds, Ben’s navigating both an organized bunch of villains that want to steal kids into the dream world to feed on them and the long line of guardians—of which Ben is one—poised to stop them. Based on a suggestion from Grunberg’s son, the world of Dream Jumpers has expanded greatly, and Grunberg and Turnbloom have hit their stride with pacing. The main characters—the two white boys and an Asian girl named Kaylee—have a stronger presence, and the bad guys, headed by the titular Harvester, are truly horrifying. Readers also meet a mysterious figure who helps Ben out of some tight spots, and the cliffhanger hints at more danger to overcome next time. Major’s beautiful coloring polishes off Turnbloom’s expressive artwork, with backgrounds brimming with detail. The snappy dialogue suits these clever young heroes, who tease one another without getting cruel or cynical.
Book 1 showed promise, and Book 2 fulfills it, elevating tropes to archetypes, with exciting pacing that would make the pages turn faster but for the arresting, immersive artwork on every page. (Graphic adventure. 8-12)