The Eye-Dancers begins with a shared dream—a nightmare involving a little girl with weirdly compelling eyes, that occurs separately to three twelve-year-old boys, all misfits in one way or another.
Mitchell, whose parents won’t stop fighting, stammers and is awkward and shy as a result. Joe, a short kid living in the shadow of his tall, attractive and popular brother, is aggressive and physical, getting into fistfights on a regular basis. Ryan covers up his nervousness and indecisiveness by telling jokes.They consult the class “brain”, Marc Kuslanski, who is adamant that their experience is entirely coincidental and has nothing of the supernatural about it, but agrees to stay awake during a sleepover to keep an eye on the dreamers.
The evening takes a disturbing turn as all four of them find themselves drawn away from their own world to another under the apparent influence of the little girl, who keeps demanding “help” with more and more urgency. In this new and strange, but bizarrely familiar place, all four must learn to work together, overcome their personal issues, and find their own inner strengths in order to solve her problem and their own.
The premise of the story is creative, if a bit far-fetched, and the ending has an interesting twist or two to it. It is satisfying to watch the boys grow up and learn more about themselves during the course of the story, and they are much more likable at the end than at the beginning (but then, how many of us were very likable at that age? Not me, I’ll tell you now…). The exploration of the boys’ internal issues and psychological development adds depth to the story and keeps the reader’s interest.
A more subtle presentation might help the book somewhat, though, as the personalities, especially Kuslanski’s, can seem a bit stereotyped, even caricatured at times. The resolution at the end also seems a bit too pat – a number of the boys’ external problems seem to solve themselves with almost unrealistic smoothness. The writing could benefit from a bit of editing, but not too much is needed, just an occasional correction here or there.
All in all, this is a perfectly enjoyable book, and of interest particularly to those who remember (or are living through) the sheer awkwardness of adolescence.
Reviewed by Catherine Langrehr for IndieReader