Akio & the Dream World by Carl A. Snook
Synopsis via Goodreads: “I wish I had never taken that bus. I just want to get home.”
“Akio my boy, just remember, what saves a man is to take a step, then another step. It is always the same step, but it gets you to where you are. You took that first step on to that bus, and it led you here, now all you have to do, is keep on stepping, and you’ll find yourself to be somewhere else. Life is a journey Akio, and we are the ones who choose where to step next.”
Take a journey into the deep unknown of the imagination. Join Akio as he explores a world thrust upon him where in a matter of minutes, even a ‘Dream world’ is turned upside down and teaches our young hero that not everything is always how it seems.
I’d like to thank the author, Carl A. Snook, for a copy of his book in exchange for an honest review.
Any other Hayao Miyazaki fans out there? Well, gather around, because I’ve got just the book for you. Carl A. Snook’s debut novel Akio & the Dream World is a charming, imaginative tale about a young boy who stumbles into a strange world shortly after his family moves to a new town. A classic ‘hero’s journey’, Akio begins his day as he would any other, only to soon discover that his destiny and potential are greater than anything he could have ever imaged.
This book has everything that I want out of a lazy afternoon fantasy read: swords and sorcery, epic battles, ruthlessly evil antagonists, new and exciting cities, a prophecy, and an array of various magical creatures (including dragons!). What more could I possibly want? In less than 120 pages Snook effectively brought Akio’s dream world to life while transporting the reader to various unique locations as the characters prepare for the ultimate battle of good vs. evil. And did I mention there are dragons? Because having a dragon or 5 is the best way to get me to fall in love with a book. The dream world is populated with all kinds of creatures and races and I couldn’t have been happier when Snook introduced fairies briefly into Akio’s journey.
Reading Akio & the Dream World had me thinking of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (because I’m ALWAYS thinking about Alice…) as there were numerous parallels between Alice and Akio’s journeys, though I feel that Akio had better luck finding less ‘mad’ companions during his time in the dream world. Both Akio and Alice fall down a rabbit hole of sorts before finding themselves in a world much different than the one they came from. Akio also reminded me of Chihiro/Sen from Spirited Away, another story about a child who gets whisked away into a magical world. It’s such a classical way to begin a children’s story and it was certainly what got me hooked on Akio’s adventures in the first place.
Like George R. R. Martin (and unlike Alice’s Adventures and Spirited Away), Snook isn’t afraid to kill off a character here and there. It definitely kept me on my toes and gave me the impression that no one was safe while war raged in the dream world. Snook breathed life into his characters in a way that made you truly care about what was happening to them, whether they were on the front lines or working behind the scenes. Though I would have liked to learn more about certain characters, specifically Akio’s love interest Yolanda, I felt that the balance between action and character development was handled well throughout the novel.
To go off on a brief tangent, I would absolutely LOVE for there to be a graphic novel adaption of this book. Since the second half of the book is very battle heavy, I feel that the story could be told really effectively with the assistance of images. This would especially be useful since the book often flips between the perspective of the heroes and the perspective of the villains (which was a really cool touch). I think overall Snook’s writing style would work very well in collaboration with an artist who can bring his magical world to life through accompanying visuals.
Above all else, Akio & the Dream World is a charming little book filled with magic and adventure. Snook is a wonderfully descriptive author who I’m certain would find wide appeal with older children as well as adults who are looking for a colourful and visual fantasy. If you want a quick, fun read that bursts with adventure and energy take a train ride into the dream world with Akio. Who knows what you’ll find there!
[Carl A. Snook also runs the Entertainment Wrestling Association based out of High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, England. It’s a great evening out for families and wrestling fans. You can check his EWA website out here!]