When the people Ben sees in his frequent nightmares turn out to be real people lulled from the waking world by a dream monster, he has to learn to navigate his dream world and save them.
As the story progresses, it becomes clear that Ben’s friend Jake knows all about his sleep troubles—and his ability to jump into other people’s nightmares to help. Jake wants to turn it into a business, but Ben’s only really concerned about his crush, Kaylee Wu, fellow student and English tutor. Kaylee misses their first tutoring session, then several days of school. Ben’s mother takes him to a sleep clinic where he spots two of the kids from his dream and Kaylee, all in the same mysterious deep sleep. Ben hurries to the sleep study room to get to sleep and save her, thus beginning a series of tough battles to fulfill his destiny as a Dream Jumper. This fast-paced adventure gains a lot from Turnbloom’s expressive art, and though the story hits a lot of tropes—the Chosen One with heretofore unseen power, the chubby-and-nerdy-but-lovable best friend, the powerful talisman, an evil villain and an even more evil villain, the damsel in distress who gets some kicks in to help the hero—it’s charming enough to engage young readers. Ben and Jake are white, Kaylee is Asian, and the two kids from Ben’s dream are black.
A fine series kickoff, with the potential to tread some fresher ground in coming installments. (Graphic adventure. 8-12)