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Ashlynn's Dreams (Devya's Children) by Julie Gilbert

By Refreshing Reviews @refreshingr
The current price for the Kindle Edition (on 11th June 2014) is 77p
This novel is centred on a young girl, called Jillian, as she retells her story of being kidnapped. The point of view switches mostly between Jillian (told through her diary entries) and her babysitter Danielle (told through her letters to Jillian's shrink, Dr. Stephanie Sokolowski). The structure of the novel is very unique, with the story being told through a collection of different 'items'; these are mostly snippets from Jillian's diary entries and Danielle's letters.
It is soon clear that Jillian and Danielle were kidnapped for a purpose, and Jillian has to complete a task in order to be set free. During their time as prisoners, they meet other children like Jillian. At this point a daunting feeling came over me, and I prayed that the author hadn't gone down the 'Twilight' superpowers road! However, the novel was taken down a unique path, one that centred on science rather than the supernatural. I was relieved. Don't get me wrong, I love my supernatural! But a novel has to have some new aspect to the theme, or it gets boring. This idea of science, and the horrifying thought of what it is capable of, was a breath of fresh air.
The structure took a while to get used to. I didn't feel as though I was properly set up for the story; however, the background becomes apparent as you read, and after so many 'items' it is easy to get lost in the story. I do think it could have benefited from a small scene of standard narrative at the beginning; maybe a scene with Dr. Sokolowski looking over the files, or something to set you up to the story, a bit of background. Who is this Dr. Sokolowski? I expected something to come from her, especially at the end of the novel... a twist, or just a comment. Overall, the structure is a very good concept, however I don't think standard narrative should be forgotten to the novel.
The two characters, Jillian and Danielle, worked really well together when telling the story. Jillian is more involved in the plot, so she is essential to hear from. Danielle is more of an outsider; however she acts as a viewer to see Jillian from another perceptive. Our images of Jillian are greater thanks to Danielle; we respect her more, and a stronger connection to her is forged. The only negative point in the writing of the novel is that it is made clear to the reader at the start that Jillian has a strong accent, however this kind of phases out as the novel progresses. I noticed it when it flicked from Danielle to Jillian, and the writing stayed as though it was from Danielle's more grown-up voice. I didn't mind this, however, as Jillian's strong accent was distracting from the plot, and it was nice for it to settle into a mild voice.
When I put the novel down for a moment, I did miss it. I had a similar feeling as I did from Dracula, which can be due to the similar structure. The interesting theme and concept made me yearn for more. If you like any novel that is out of the ordinary, something different, then this is worth the read - especially at the kindle price! It is full of new ideas, and I could easily imagine it as a TV series. It has the potential for television, with a massive history to be explored as well as the scientific outcomes - another Roswellin the makings! It is very intriguing, and worth the read as the scientific ideas behind it could be the start of a new genre.
I was disappointed when the story ended, mostly because it finished too soon! I felt like it was rushed, and could easily have been expanded at the end to another set of item entries. It is a good novel to set up the imaginary world for future releases, and I can see the potential for an interesting, long-running collection.
There are a lot of intriguing ideas to the novel which I have not touched upon, so that it doesn't ruin your pleasure of finding them for yourselves. I will tempt you with one: ever wondered what it would be like to be in a videogame? Jillian finds out when she gets thrown into one during a dream.  

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