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Book Review

This book has been reviewed by Focus on the Family Thriving Family, a marriage and parenting magazine. It is second book in the "Wake" Series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Janie Hannagan starts the last half of her senior year with three secrets. The first is that she's a dream catcher, a person who falls into other people's dreams. The second and third are that she's dating Cabel Strumheller, and the two of them are undercover informants for the police. Their boss, Captain Fran Komisky, briefs the two teenagers on the possibility of a sexual predator stalking the halls of Fieldridge High School. The only clues in the case are two phone calls, one in March and one in November, to their Crimebusters hot line. In both calls, the same loud music can be heard in the background. The caller in November makes an accusation that students and teachers are engaging in sexual activity.

The Captain asks Janie and Cabel to take the case, and they agree, although Cabel is upset that Janie may be used as bait to trap the predator. After Cabel leaves the office, Captain Komisky gives Janie a box of files compiled by Martha Stubin, a former dream catcher for the police. Until her death, Stubin had been a resident at the nursing home where Janie once worked. The Captain orders Janie to read through the files to learn more about her ability and how it can be used to help solve crimes.

As Janie and Cabel begin the second half of the school year, it becomes apparent to both of them that Janie's physical reaction to dream catching is growing worse. She is often blind for several minutes, and her fingers and legs are stiff after she comes out of a nightmare. Janie eventually has to get glasses to help her see even when she is not dream catching.

Mr. Durbin, Janie's chemistry teacher, insists on giving her a ride home from the grocery store. Later, he asks her to stay after school to redo a failed classroom experiment. He stands close to her, caressing her shoulder and her lower back. Janie escapes the room before anything else happens, but when Cabel learns of Durbin's advances, he and Janie argue. Cabel has never allowed himself to care so deeply for someone, and it pains him that he can't keep Janie safe from either the effects of her dream catching or the advances of her teacher. Cabel apologizes for his anger and promises to try not to smother Janie with his fears.

Janie asks Mr. Durbin for help with her chemistry, and he invites her over to his house. There, he tells her that he knows she is attracted to him, and he feels the same way about her, but that it would be wrong to act on their feelings while she is his student. His manipulation of the conversation convinces Janie that he keeps his victims quiet by making them think that whatever happens is their fault, not his.

Mr. Durbin asks for Janie's help with planning his biannual Chemistry 2 party. He has one in November and one in March. Janie convinces him to invite former students, hoping that she might befriend some of them and learn if he's made passes at them. None of the girls have anything but wonderful things to say about him, but two have violent nightmares of a sexual nature.

At the Chemistry 2 party, Janie steers clear of the punch Mr. Durbin serves, fearing it might be laced with GHB, a date rape drug. What she doesn't realize is that he's also put it in the appetizers he's serving. The drug diminishes her ability to think clearly, and she allows two of Durbin's friends, also teachers, to make out with her on the deck. Before things go too far, the voice of Stubin, in her mind, urges her to ask for a cigarette, knowing that Janie has been given a special lighter from Captain Komisky. When Janie uses it, a signal is transmitted to the police staked outside the house, and they break up the party. Janie and the other students are hospitalized and tested for GHB. Everyone, including the teachers, have it in their system. Janie can't remember much about the party, but Captain Komisky assures her that Janie stopped the teachers before they raped her. Unfortunately, one of the other students was not so fortunate.

Janie struggles to get through the rest of the school year with her new notoriety over the sex scandal and the physical effects of dream catching. One day while driving home, she pulls up behind a school bus and falls into one of the student's dream. Her foot comes off the brake pedal and she nearly runs over a child exiting the bus. Scared, Janie returns home and reads one final message in the files from Stubin. In it Stubin describes the physical toll dream catching plays on a person's body. All the dream catchers Stubin knew were blind in their 20s and crippled soon after that. The only cure known to prevent the effects is not to dream catch. Complete isolation from people is the only way to accomplish that. Janie talks with Captain Komisky about her future. The Captain urges Janie not to give up hope. She will help Janie look for help and reminds her that science has advanced since Stubin originally wrote her notes. But the Captain also insists that Janie no longer drive. Janie then confronts Cabel, who has been avoiding her since the party. She fears he hasn't wanted to be with her because of the teachers' assault — but it's because he's afraid of losing her.

Christian Beliefs

Janie's mother has a reoccurring dream about a man Janie thinks looks like Jesus. Janie tells Cabel that an image is burned like a cross in her mind.

Other Belief Systems

The spirit of Martha Stubin is able to interact with Janie when Janie is dreaming or in a dreamlike state. Janie is able to converse with her, and Stubin says she will be available as long as Janie has questions about dream catching.

Authority Roles

Janie's mother is an alcoholic who has very little interaction with her daughter. Janie curses her mother when her mother falls asleep in the living room, and Janie calls her stupid. Captain Fran Komisky is a surrogate mother to both Cabel and Janie and is available to both teenagers at any time, offering them tough love and advice throughout the book.

Three teachers are involved in the sex scandal at the school. Throughout the book they trade sexual innuendos with Janie. In her coded police notes, she refers to some of her teachers as Dopey, Dippy and Dumba--.


Janie and her friends use a great many profanities in conversing including: the f-word, s---, bas---d, h---, a--, dumba--, a--hole, and d--n. God's name is used with my, d--nit, swear to and oh. Jesus' name is also used as an exclamation as is Christ. Other negative words are bloody, suck, heck, pissed, jeez, freaking and crap.

One girl dreams of a man who attacks her from the back seat of her car. She crashes the car and tries to escape, but the man chases her into the woods and rapes her. Another dreams of dancing at a party in just her bra and jeans. A man takes off his pants and pushes her to the floor. Other partygoers take off their clothes and fall on top of her, leaving her unable to breathe. Janie has a nightmare in which Stubin's eyes drip blood, and then her face melts into a skull. At the Chemistry 2 party, Janie uses self-defense moves on the two teachers who are trying to rape her and leaves them on the ground, incapacitated.


Janie starts weight lifting because she wants to be strong and sexy. Janie and Cabel's relationship intensifies throughout the book. They kiss often. Janie buys a condom for their first sexual encounter. Although the initial foreplay is graphically described, the act itself is not. While sleeping in bed with Cabel, she slips into his dream in which they're making love. The experience is unnerving because as he begins to touch her in real life, her body is simultaneously going numb. She wakes him up by biting a lock of his hair and pulling on it.

Mr. Durbin's behavior toward Janie is often sexual. He stares at her chest, looks down her shirt as she bends over and watches her as she walks away from him. Janie trades innuendos with him in order to bait him into seducing her. When she visits his house for a tutoring session, she notices a pornographic magazine on his nightstand. Janie is uncomfortable with the way he touches her back and shoulder when he talks to her.

The events at the Chemistry 2 party are described through Janie's increasingly altered state of mind. She watches a student "dirty dancing" with one of the teachers who isn't wearing a shirt. She sees several students in various stages of pre-sex. Mr. Durbin kisses Janie passionately and leads her to his bedroom. Durbin uses a crude term to tell Janie another girl is having sex with one of the teachers in the spare bedroom before he suggests that he and Janie have sex in his room instead. While Janie uses the bathroom, Durbin coaxes three other students into his room where he begins to undress them on his bed. Another teacher walks around in his underwear. He and a third teacher kiss and fondle Janie when she goes out on the deck.

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Drugs: When Janie asks for a cigarette, one of the teachers brings her a joint instead.

Morning after pill: A student who was raped at the party takes a "morning-after" pill.

Alcohol: Janie's mother is an alcoholic and is primarily seen walking from her bedroom to the kitchen and back in order to get a drink.

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

14 and up


Lisa McMann






Record Label



Simon Pulse, a division of Simon and Schuster


On Video

Year Published



ALA Best Books for Young Adults nominee 2009


We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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