Dream Doctor by J. J. DiBenedetto is the second book in the Dream series, continuing the story of Sara Alderson (née Barnes), former pre-med – soon-to-be med student, and now newly-wed, as she tries to move on from the events of debut novel Dream Student.
After a year and a half of peace, her sensitivity to the dreams of others suddenly re-emerges the night before her wedding to fiancé Brian, bringing back the troubling feeling of imminent danger as she remembers the horrific acts of the killer she had unwittingly become dream-witness to. As she enters her first month of study at the University, the old problems of embarrassing fantasies and thoughts of her fellow students leaking into her nightly sleep are dwarfed by the violent dreams surrounding Dr. Morris, possibly the least popular professor in school. When dreams turn to reality, Sara finds herself pre-cognitive witness once again, sharing classes with potential killers as she juggles relationships, education, and finding out who exactly can be trusted at her new school.
Dream Doctor is another mystery and suspense novel in the series following the day-to-day of Sara as her powers begin to interject her career and even love life, from pre-marital doubts to the sting of unrestrained academic criticism. Sara is a very relatable character, beginning her adult life and trying to do what’s best at all times for her friends, family, and even total strangers, all while trying to make something of herself. While capable and strong, she still struggles to maintain everything around her. Her personality makes her a perfect protagonist for the series, where her ‘calling’ is both a curse and a gift when she refuses to let the opportunity to fix wrongs pass by, complicated by her own feelings, especially her growing enmity toward the unfortunate Dr. Morris. Her struggles are realistic, but she pulls through, even through loss and trauma.
Supporting Sara is a cast of interesting, believable professors, classmates, and clan, all doing their best to help, hinder, and embarrass Sara as she tackles the new challenges ahead of her, with their own little quirks, habits, and story giving an extra breath of life into the book. Additional detail is provided through the realism of the setting, where the author’s academic background and research has clearly paid off in both the personal and social experiences of medical school and the clinical accuracy to be experienced there, complete with the habits and creativity of medical students that should never be underestimated.
Of note is the book’s design: while the first edition cover by Ami Low is attractive, the new covers for the series by Emma Michaels are gorgeous, dream-like, and fit each book, and the series as a whole, extremely well. The book in general is carefully put together, and has a great pacing and flow between heart-warming, heartbreaking and everything between. The book is an addictive read, and even if you skipped the first book, you’ll be wanting to see where life takes Sara through the rest of the series when you hit the ending of this part.
The Dream series is currently going on nine titles, with the next installment Dream Child already available, and the latest, Fever Dream, available in May this year.