Originally published May 2015

Never dare a book lover to read a book in a day.

Especially a good book.

Asked by a media outlet to interview Walking Dead author Jay Bonansinga, the longtime Evanston resident was kind enough to send his latest, Lucid, to read in the two days prior to our interview.

And that I did, in one sitting.

It’s Bonansinga’s first foray into the YA genre, and in a single word? Riveting.

Lucid centers on 18-year-old Lori Blaine, a misfit high school senior living with her divorced mother, her Caribbean-born father no longer around. Lori’s battling nature’s will to sleep because, simply, her dreams are scaring the crap out of her. You see, there’s this door …

It’s once Lori succumbs to sleep and attempts to venture beyond the door that a surreal and slightly frightening adventure begins. With best friend Hugo Stipple on one side of the door and new love Nick Ballas on the other, Lori is on a quest to figure out what her dreams mean and how, as a lucid dreamer, she can manipulate both the worlds in which she can move.

Bonansinga takes care to not go too creepy with Lucid, yet still creates an otherworld—the one in which our dreams exist—that’s both beautiful and horrifying. And—a world that serves as a gateway with which pure evil can jump into our everyday existence. Poor, poor Ichabod.

The characters—Lori, Hugo and Nick in particular—are well-drawn and easy to relate to. And the periphery characters are purposeful, leaving readers with a sense of a sequel in the works.

About the YA tag on Lucid—”I’ve been interested in horror all my life ,” says Bonansinga. “With Lucid, the reason it came about was all ipso facto. It’s more quiet horror, creepy horror. It’s more surreal. I’ve had experiences with people saying, ‘You should write a coming of age story.” It just happened with this particular one, the heroine is a teen.

Should you read it? If you are into fantasy sci-fi with a slant on scary, absolutely. Should your kid read it? While graphic in its depiction of scary material, there’s not a lot of drugs, alcohol, sex and swearing going on here. Just a whole lotta freaky dreaming. And great storytelling.

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