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Book Review - Well of Dreams by Kayla Ann

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I do not normally read young-adult novels. I picked up Well of Dreams by accident, but I'm glad I gave it a shot! It was especially delightful to have such a fun read after a book that really was not my jam last week. It took me a couple of chapters to get into this book, but after picking it back up on the second day, I became so enamored with it that I finished it in one sitting. 

Well of Dreams, published in late 2023, follows two POV characters, Larissa and Darien. The two farm-hand teens are living in a dystopian world that is equal parts fantasy and fascism. Equal parts Hunger Games and Chronicles of Narnia

What I liked about this book was that it did not try to avoid tropes--it embraced them. It embraced so many tropes all at once and merged them in such a way that they were fresh again. The plot is somewhat predictable because of this, but predictable doesn't always mean tired. Sometimes predictable is cozy. Reading this book was like reading an old favorite, even though it just came out. 

Despite what I said earlier about reading this in one sitting, the pacing did feel a bit slow at times. I do feel that this could have been trimmed quite a bit, particularly in middle traveling section. There's a long sequence where they're in the truck, having a conversation, then they'll stop, switch positions in the truck so a different duo can have a conversation, repeat, repeat. Travel sections are hard

I would also have loved to see more romantic development between the two main characters. (Slight spoilers here, but this is something you learn fairly early on). Larissa and Darien were a couple in the part of their lives that was lost to amnesia. There are a few "she was oddly familiar," instant attraction moments which hinted at this straight away. Later, we see flashbacks of them being in love, but the characters in present--particularly Larissa--are resistant to the idea of getting back together. I think it would have been an even more impactful story if we really got to see them fall for each other in present day, too. As written, their romantic arc mostly relies on them uncovering memories about each other. Rather than actually falling for each other, we see them remember that they already have. It's less punchy than it otherwise could have been. 

Overall, I would recommend this to anyone who wants a YA fantasy with a strong female main character, stellar worldbuilding, and clear hook for a sequel. 

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