In Review: Dream Jumper: Book Two–Curse of the Harvester

This is sure to delight, enchant, and scare (just a little) young readers.

Dream Jumper: Book Two–Curse of the Harvester by Greg Grunberg & Lucas Turnbloom

Published by Scholastic on September 26, 2017. Released simultaneously as a hardcover and a paperback of 224 pages at $24.99 and $12.99. Intended for ages 10 – 14, grades 5 – 9. 

Note: I read an advanced copy so anything may have changed by publication.

The cover: Ben has got one hand on the edge of cliff, barely able to keep himself from falling to certain doom, let alone while holding on to a flailing Jake. This is a decent action image by Lucas Turnbloom that does occur in this graphic novel. Though it does show the pair in peril, it doesn’t show all the wonderful and scary creatures and locales they will encounter. A frontpiece that showed off more of the fanciful elements of the book would have been better and attracted more readers. Overall grade: B

The premise: From the back cover, “THE NIGHTMARE CONTINUES Ben and Jake are back for more! With the Dream Jumper business making them some serious money, all seems to be going great. But Ben is put to the test in a way he never saw coming when a new and formidable foe invades his nightmares. With Jake backing him up and a mysterious newcomer in the Dream World. Ben may have a chance to overcome this new evil. He just has to keep his friends safe long enough to figure out how!” This is perfect summary to set up new and returning readers. I enjoyed the first book in this series and am looking forward to seeing what happens next to Max and his friends. Overall grade: A

The characters: Max is an incredibly likable hero. He loves being able to jump in and out of people’s dreams, he wants to help others, and he wants his friends to be safe. What’s not to like about a hero with these attributes? Jake is his large computer savvy friend who thinks he’s much cooler than he is. He, and his family, provide quite a bit of the book’s humor, but not in a mean way. I like that Jake got sucked into the dream world for the book’s climax and became a much more serious character after seeing Max in action. Also back is the love of Max’s life, Kaylee, who shows herself to be much more than anyone expected. The villains of the book include the Noxes, the Night Terrors — who are really cool, the Nightmare Lord, and the Harvester, who is also really creepy, a hooded skeleton that skitters along walls like a spider. There are other threats that Max and his friends must avoid, but I won’t spoil them. Suffice to say, they all are creepy and twisted. There’s also a doctor who’s introduced in the book who will be a greater threat in the next book. All of these characters are fun and interesting, even if some are evil. Overall grade: A

The settings: The Wake World is the normal world, focusing on a pool party at Kaylee’s house, the doctor’s place of work, Ben’s bedroom, and Jake’s house. Each of these locations act as exit are entrance to the Dream World. The Dream World is what readers want to see and they won’t be disappointed. The first location is the sky for some daring do, a Candyland nightmare, an insect infested domain, a city street populated by some frightful circus folk, a safe location for some heroic information, and the concluding location — the cave of the Nightmare Lord. Each setting moves the book forward and will have young readers pour over each visual detail. Overall grade: A

The action: This is definitely the book’s high point and the number one reason why the reader will keep turning pages. In the Dream World anything can happen and that’s definitely the case. Max flies about like a super hero, enabling him to move about dreams quickly, there are more nightmarish threats for him to vanquish, and things emerge from the settings that make as much sense as dreams do. And these troubles appear in addition to the schemes of the Nightmare Lord and the Harvester. The climax is quite the nail biter. I stand and applaud Grunberg and Turnbloom for making the action so exciting and riveting. Overall grade: A+

The conclusion: The young heroes survive to fight another day, with one of them showing their skills to be particularly strong. Though the doctor is shown in the final three pages to be a future threat. I’m definitely on board for more! Overall grade: A

The artwork: The visuals on this book are perfect. Illustrated by Turnbloom and colored by Guy Major, this book creates wonders and frights for the real and imaginary worlds. Highlights include Max’s magnificent entrance, Pages 50 and 51 — hilarious, the threats that first appear on 78, the offensive (double meaning here) weapon on 118, the reveal on 127, the exit that begins on 154, the Harvester’s final scenes, and my favorite characters, the Night Terrors. I love the look of this book. Overall grade: A

The final line: This is sure to delight, enchant, and scare (just a little) young readers. Every page has the possibility for something only imagined to appear and this team brings them life wonderfully. The story and visuals make this a must read and excellent choice for reluctant readers. Recommended. Oh, and I’m ready for the follow up. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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