3 out of 4 stars
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Meet Ann. She’s a high-school senior who lives with her mom and wishes for more out of life. By day, she attends classes and spends time with her friends. By night, she dreams of a place with magic and castles.
Meet Annabelle. She’s a princess who lives with her dad and wishes for more out of life. By day, she attends to her royal duties and manages to have some fun, despite her responsibilities. By night, she dreams of a place with the strangest horseless carriages and a life of coursework and tests.
Ann and Annabelle are the same person. She travels between two worlds when she drifts off to sleep.
But she won’t be able to do this forever. Soon, Ann/Annabelle must make a choice. Remain as Ann and never see her father again, or remain as Annabelle and leave her mom.
Or, somehow, reunite her family.
I’ll be honest. When I started Jennifer Deaver’s The Traveler, it seemed like a lot of other fantasy books I’ve read. When I realized that Ann and Annabelle were the same person who dreamed each other’s lives, I was hooked. Yes, I’d seen stuff similar to this, but I hadn’t come across dream lives done in quite this way. From there, I got swept up in the fantastic adventure and finished the book in record time.
Ann and Annabelle, despite being the same person, are also individuals. Perhaps this sounds odd, but it really worked. For a while, it was like reading a story about identical twins who’d been separated at birth. I enjoyed getting to know Ann and Annabelle, and I loved watching her grow into one person, taking the best parts from each side.
Annabelle’s world was so much fun. There’s the palace, located in the thriving city of Pelland. There’s also the Enchanted Forest, which is full of creatures of all kinds. I got to know the characters on Annabelle’s side better, and if I had a chance to go there, I could spend days exploring and talking to people. On the flip side, Ann’s world felt a little underdeveloped, but this didn’t really bother me.
I did feel a bit of a disconnect with Ann/Annabelle’s age. She’s eighteen, but the story didn’t quite feel old enough for her to be eighteen. I think if she’d been a few years younger (fifteen, maybe), that disconnect wouldn’t have been there. The mechanics of Ann/Annabelle switching worlds was also never quite explained. Neither of these things really bothered me. Fantasy readers who need their magic systems cemented in concrete details may find this too whimsical. As for me, I was too wrapped-up in the story to think about how it all worked.
There were some grammatical errors throughout, but if I hadn’t been searching for them, I would have been too lost in the story to notice. These and, to a lesser degree, wishing Ann/Annabelle had been a few years younger bring me to rate The Traveler 3 out of 4 stars. If there had been fewer mistakes, the age disconnect wouldn’t have been enough to lower my rating from 4, and I never thought to give this 2. I recommend this book to fans of light fantasy or fairytales. Middle-school-aged readers (girls, in particular) may also enjoy this, as might those who enjoy family stories. All the loose threads are tied up, but there could be room for a sequel. If one pops up, I’ll definitely be reading it.
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