It was an entertaining read with a good amount of suspense. I read all the way through because I wanted to find out why Stephen was having the nightmares and what Brenda was hiding.
It was exactly the same as the other TWJ book I read in so many ways. (That other book was "A thief in the house of Memory")
Main character male, approximately 15
Has younger sister, approximately 7
Lives in an architecturally wacko house
Family was abandoned by one of the parents
Figuring out why that abandonment happened is the main quest of the book
Small exurb town (I take that word to mean that it's farther out than a suburb, with farms around, but is still like a feeder community, but I could be wrong)
School friends who are outrageously precocious (in this book Stephen writes whole poems out of only the letters in a person's name, and another person's name; in Memory a girl spends whole days only using words that don't contain the letter e)
Coffee shop scenes
This left me depressed, and here's why. I want to be a writer. I write things--long things, short things, novels, stories, computer manuals to pay the rent, little rants. Clearly TWJ writes to make a living (other than the money he makes as WIW and teaching a MFA program in Vermont). I really want each thing I write to stand apart from each other thing. When I read even books by authors I really like, sometimes I feel like I'm reading the same book over and over. This particular book seemed like an extreme case -- same main character, same minor characters, same plot. But for example, the relationships between the main character and her love interest each Ann McCaffrey novel all seem the same after a while. And they're all set in the same world.
When you're a writer, in order to have an audience and a market, do you have to keep writing the same thing? Is that somehow required by the genre you're trapped in? Do you really have to always write in the same genre if you want to keep getting published? If you write a vampire book, are you always doomed to write vampire books, and maybe every once in a while a book about a demon instead, or a fallen angel (since those are pretty much the same genre)? Why do people stick to genre so much? I've always thought of myself as a warrior-mage, doing lots of different things (some might say it's more of an excuse for not finishing stuff). And it takes longer to develop a warrior-mage than a specialist, but when you're done, it's way more useful.
And while I'm writing ranting questions, are series really the way to go, and the only way to make a real living in genre? Because I don't think I have the attention span for three or twelve books. In fact, I don't think a lot of the other people who write them do either.
Wow, I don't really think it's fair to dump all this on poor TWJ's shoulders.