Pullbox Reviews Waking Life, Book 2: Epiphenomena- If you’re gonna Dream, Dream big

Childhood friends Robbie and Stacey have finally revived a connection that spans dimensions– literally. Navigating the ins and outs of Robbie’s high school together, they’re looking to make their mark and achieve their dreams. But when a rash of vandalism breaks out on campus, Stacey gets the blame, and her stay in our world is jeopardized. Joined by their new friend Ana, she and Robbie are going to have to get to the bottom of a conspiracy of doppelgangers, nightmares, and long-ignored fears.

If they’re successful, their Anime club will be heroes. But if they aren’t?

Chaos is just waiting to break loose across two worlds…

Waking World books 1 & 2 are those rarified gems of the comic book world, easy reading for all ages. While the stories themselves are geared toward younger readers, they remain pain free for the adults who may be reading along. It’s a fairy tale that started in book 1, as the Princess of the Dreaming Realm was looking for a human from the waking world to be her companion, playmate, & best friend. She finds Robbie Boone, and every night in Robbie’s dreams they set off on wild adventures.

In book 2, creator Ben Humeniuk takes the action out of dreams and into what we’d consider the real world (citizens of the Dreaming may take offense to that idea, so I’ll try to be more diplomatic). The Princess wants to know what Robbie does when he’s awake and convinces the King that the experience of living outside of dreams would prepare her to be a better ruler. With King Morpheus’s trusted physician and advisor Doctor Placebo assigned to keep watch over her, she takes the name Stacey and joins Robbie as a humble high school student.

From Book 1

Humeniuk keeps the story moving along, with good pacing and pretty solid dialogue overall… a thing that isn’t always the case in “all ages” comics. He lets his characters be who they are as events unfold around them, going so far as to make sure everyone has a backstory & a life that exists beyond their time on the page. That extra step works to give supporting characters, as well as minor background participants, a little more depth when they do come into play.

Taking on double duty as writer and artist, Humeniuk keeps his panels simple. Backgrounds are given just enough attention to show the reader context, a place in the story, keeping his pages clear & concise. The initial impression I get from Humeniuk’s illustrations is that of the story books you’d get for your kids, keeping the focus where it needs to be so that wandering eyes can stay on track. Character designs are more fleshed out, so that individuals aren’t lost in a shuffle and readers can keep everyone straight.

In a story built around the concept of dreams and nightmares slipping into the waking world, these are easy reads perfect for younger readers- easily in the double-digit age range- or parents interested in finding something for shared story time. There are some creepy images, but it’s all done in the spirit of fun over frights. If that sounds at all interesting, hop over to Book 2’s Kickstarter and see if there’s a tier with your name on it. Princess Stacey is always looking for a friend.

Final Score: 9/13

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