I was provided a copy of A Gateway to Reality through Goodreads’ READ IT AND REAP program in exchange for my fair and honest review. I thank the author for this opportunity. (This review, in the nearly identical form, was previously posted at www.Oathtaker.com, on Goodreads and elsewhere.)
. . . I really struggled with how to “rate” this read. In the end, I decided on 3-1/2 stars.
As to the negative aspects of the story, there were a few. First, I found Wes annoying. He whined and complained about how he might be fired for being late to work (“Who does he think he is?” Wes wonders of his boss). Then, Wes whines some more (“I need my space”), wanting to put distance between himself and Emily (his love interest), only to whine and complain even more (!) when he could not be near Emily in the “other” world.
Second, I thought it odd that Wes was confused between the world where he was “awake” (the Virtual Logicity,” a world of logic, rules and order which, the reader learns, people crave) and the world of his dreams (otherwise known as the “Existence,” where chaos reigns). Even so, he accepted without question, debate or discussion, that the “dream” world was the “real” world.
Also, the connection between Wes and Emily seemed real enough, I guess, but Wes’s quick turnaround to make that possible did not seem genuine. Finally, it seemed odd that when Wes went to visit his family in the Virtual Logicity (after not having seen them for some time), everyone seemed to have something better to do—sister Wendy had somewhere she needed to be, Dad was too busy to rush to see his son and Mom ran off—to play Bunco. . . .
Now, for the good points. Really, there is only one I will note—because it is so worthy of note and because it is so significant. That is, the author’s imagination and how she used it successfully to create a full alternate world.
In Wes’s dream world—as in the dream world for many of us (I would venture to guess)—the rules of physics and so forth do not apply. So, for example, the buildings “swayed and danced as lithely as kelp at the bottom of the sea, pushed and pulled by some invisible current.” It is a world wherein a sculpture of a shuttlecock in a park is picked up and played with by giants; there is no death—you either exist or you do not; people create worlds out of their own imagination—worlds like Aquarius—where a person might swim with ocean life and without the need to breathe; a place where people eat for the joy of it and not for the need of it. But the one existence that I most appreciated was one that Emily had created. What made it so special was the clouds in the sky. Their shapes “morphed and changed slowly. Instead of . . . random puffing and shrinking forms, their movements were more intentional, as if by design. A cat. An elephant,” and eventually, a cat riding on an elephant’s back. Then there was in the clouds, a man in a top hat who bowed, "his coattails fluttering," while “his counterpart, a woman in a billowing dress," curtsied. They joined hands and danced. Imagine finding shapes in the clouds like that! The idea was very creative! I also enjoyed Wes skydiving with his Dad’s counterpart in the Existence—without parachutes. Because the ground wasn’t “fixed,” it just kept moving away as the skydivers drew closer. Thus, the skydivers could just keep falling forever. When Wes suggested that there really had been no need for the designer of the place to have put in a ground, he was informed that if the ground was not below somewhere, they would not be falling—they’d simply be flying! (Well done, Becca J. Campbell!)
Wes learns that, because people sometimes crave the known and certain, they are drawn to the Virtual Logicity to relax—almost like one might be drawn to a glass of wine in order to relax. So, visiting the place is like a vacation, but staying there is like an addiction. Truly, the “waking” and “dream” worlds were completely turned around, yet the author made it all work.
Readers of contemporary fantasy will enjoy A Gateway to Reality.