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Dreams of the Dead (The Waking #1)

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  386 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
Kara’s afraid to go to sleepuntil the nightmares come when she’s awake . . . .Sixteen-year-old Kara Foster is an outsider in Japan, but is doing her best to fit at the private school where her father is teaching English for the year. Fortunately she’s befriended by Sakura, a fellow outsider struggling to make sense of her sister’s unsolved murder some months ago. No one se ...more
Paperback, 276 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nov 08, 2015 Sesana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, horror
There's some pretty good stuff in here. The Japanese setting is vivid and well-researched. The characters are fairly well developed. The characters who are experiencing grief do so in ways that feel realistic, even though that isn't really the focus of the book. The main character, Kara, has a great relationship with her dad. In a genre that often (too often, in my opinion) uses inexplicably absent adults as a story crutch, it's really nice to see a parent who is loving and very present in his d ...more
Steph Su
DREAMS OF THE DEAD is a well-written novel that combines the fascinating ways of Japanese life with your typical horror story. It may satisfy young horror fans’ appetite for creepiness, but others may find it difficult to stay engaged with the slow-moving plot.

Perhaps most brilliant about this book are its endless depictions of Japanese customs. Either the author has done his research well, or he has actually lived in Japan before, because we truly get to experience Kara’s discomforts, difficult
Jan 10, 2015 Catherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First of all I'd like to thank Missy - bingereader on you tube for recommending this book on one of her review videos. I am so glad that I purchased it and read it because it's a fantastic story and an amazing start to what I am sure will be an grate trilogy.

This first book in the trilogy follows an American girl, named Kara and her father who's a teacher through their first few months in Japan. Where they have moved to for a year for her father to teach following her mothers death.

The cover art
After her mother's sudden death, Kara and her father move to Japan, where he teaches English at her new school. While she has trouble making inroads with the popular soccer girls, two others befriend her easily, including one whose sister was murdered on school grounds by the soccer girls (no spoiler there - it's in the prologue). After some of the soccer girls begin dying off, Kara tries to figure out who killed the girl and why other students are dying in horrible and mysterious ways, eventual ...more
I loved the cover, super scary, but also because I loved the reference. I have seen many Japanese horror movies, and also enough scary girls like this. :)

Now to the book, I really liked the concept of American girl going to Japan with her teacher dad. I liked how real it seemed, I know how Japan is against outsiders/foreigners so I am glad that was also mentioned enough times.

The horror was wonderful, the cats and things happening really gave me a scare and I had a few nights of sleeping less b
Jul 14, 2013 Mizuki rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actually it's 3.5 stars. The use of Japanese culture and tradition is indeed respectful and interseting, the story starts off well enough and it held my interest from 2/3 of the book, but at the remaining part the mystery seems to start dragging. Holy hell, we have students being killed and haunted (by what appearing to be the ghost of a murdered girl) left and right but it still managed to be a bit boring.

There are a lot of rooms for improvement, but I'll look forward for the sequel.
Nov 03, 2009 Marilyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 7th - 9th grade
This was supposed to be scary but it wasn't really. The setting (Kyoto prefecture in Japan) is unique as is the use of Japanese Noh demons brought to life through feelings of anger and grief. I've been to the place in Japan where this is set and really enjoyed the descriptions of Amanohashidate and its surroundings. The book itself? Meh. Just didn't work any spell on me at all. Some mild language.
A fantastic horror novel that is incredibly well-researched and nicely-written. Atmospheric and chilling, this book presents the beauty and the richness of Japanese culture while drawing from its myths to create an original, fascinating and creepy story with a realistic and smart protagonist, a group of interesting friends and a desperate and indiscriminate thirst for revenge for an unfair death. Can't wait to get into the sequel.
May 26, 2009 Mimi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-fiction, 2009
Really spooky!
Lyra Rose
Sep 02, 2009 Lyra Rose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Find my review at
Sep 07, 2012 Sugar rated it really liked it

I don’t like creepy hair-raising horror at all; I never read a single book from this genre. And having learned from my first and, hopefully, last encounter with The Ring movie, horror created or set in Japan tends to scare me more senseless than anything else. So why did I pick up this book? Alone the title had me getting goose-bumpy, but having complained that there is not nearly enough YA set in Japan I had to take on the challenge. And I have to admit that while being somewhat jittery
Awake at Midnight
At a boarding school in Japan, in the shadow of a mountain called the Bridge in the Heavens, students are being murdered. As a prelude, we watch as Akane, the first casualty, is kicked into the water by a gang of jealous girls and drowns after a popular boy expresses his love for her.

Then we meet Kara who is not only a new student, but the only gaigin, a foreigner, in her high school. She recently lost her mother in a car accident and has accompanied her father as he begins his first year as an
Jun 12, 2011 Emily rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alex Telander
Sep 20, 2010 Alex Telander rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Christopher Golden, author of The Boys Are Back in Town and coauthor of The Map of Moments, takes a journey away from his usual stories of the magical and horrific to tell a story of a different kind of horror and the macabre for a younger audience. Because of this, Golden is writing under the pseudonym of Thomas Randall, taking us to Japan and its complex culture and ancient supernatural legends.

Kara Foster’s mother was killed in a car crash, leaving her and her father alone. After years of stu
Kara Harper and her father have finally realized their life-long dream of starting a new life in Japan. Looking out at the peaceful blue of Miyazu Bay, photographing Ama-no- Hashidate, the Bridge to Heaven, Kara thinks it’s the most beautiful place on earth. If only her mother had lived to share it with her. As Kara walks up the long, forested path towards the pagoda towers of her new school, she stops at a candlelit shrine where the offerings of local monks and residents remind her of the fasci ...more
Nov 20, 2009 Stephanie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
A very well-written novel that incorporates the Japanese culture and a very typical and ordinary horror story. Though the horror story was derived from the Japanese culture - the many demons that the Japanese believe in.

The one thing that took me so long to read this novel was the extremely slow pace that it had. I have to admit, at first, it seemed extremely suspenseful but as time progressed and the plot just kept getting prolonged, it just made me extremely weary of the plot. And the ending w
Dec 03, 2009 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to start out by saying that I was really disappointed by this book. I really expected to like it and at first I did but as the book went on I really lost interest and almost couldn't even finish it. It took me forever to get through it just because I didn't want to read it.

Dreams of the Dead started off with a bang. Everything really started on the very first page and there wasn't much background. Once Kate was introduced I felt like I was just thrown straight into her life. Once again,
Jun 11, 2011 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011
Dreams of the Dead has been sitting on my bookcase for probably over a year. Every time I looked at it, I was not sure it was going to be a book for me. It was not until I read the summary for the second book in the series that I felt the calling to dive into Dreams of the Dead's pages. The tale starts off with a haunting beginning: "Akane Murakami died for a boy she did not love." From there, I was hooked.

Dreams of the Dead's main selling point is its focus on Japanese history. Having studied
Nov 23, 2014 Heather rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, reviewed


Dreams of the Dead really surprised me. I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. I loved the plot and especially the characters in this story. The characters were so realistic and relatable. Having the story set in Japan only added a bonus to this story. I’ve always wanted to go to Japan and this story made me want to go even more with all the amazing descriptions. The combination of plot, characters, and setting really made me think about animes and mangas. This added to
Oct 20, 2010 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked the way this book was written and the idea of the book. I only gave it 3 stars though because I like my books to have twists in them and this have that.

The characters in this book were good, although I didn't see any character development much. No, actually, not really at all.

The book was basically about a legend?(there is a Noh play about it) come to life. One student dies at the very beginning of the book and then other students start turning up dead.

The sister of the murdered g
Melissa Chung
Jul 20, 2014 Melissa Chung rated it really liked it
I am so pleased to have read this book. I'm also super excited I have the series in its entirety so I can finish it A.S.A.P.

Kara Harper moves to Japan with her father after a car accident took her mother. This was supposed to be their fresh start. They have always wanted to live in Japan and this was their chance.
On her first day of school, Kara finds herself staring at a small shrine outside the school grounds and learns a girl was murdered a few months back. Her new friends Sukura and Miho gi
Leslie (That Chick That Reads)
The waking is book one of the dreams of the dead series. It’s about a girl named Kara who moves to Japan with her father after her mother dies in a tragic car accident but then she befriends Sakura, a strange girl who recently lost her sister due to murder. Suddenly very strange thing start to happen in a course of dreams and Kara is forced to make the ultimate decision.

At first I couldn’t get into this novel. Don’t get me wrong, the writing was wonderful, the characters start of fascinating bu
Dagny Hammond
Jan 10, 2016 Dagny Hammond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Christopher Golden used unique themes in the book such as the cats and the ancient Japanese traditions, such as the religious references and the Noh theater. The plot following Kara living in Japan and her experiences feeling alien also made me, the reader confused, and feel somewhat alien in that I could relate to Kara but not her new friends. The fact that the students were being haunted and killed by a demon was pretty cool, but the fact that one of the characters killed herself to get away ...more
Nov 30, 2014 Dm rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Golden is good at not very scary but semi okay horror. He is good at writing nightmarish dream sequences, describing demons and describing feeble attempts to fight those demons. He is NOT good at writing conversations between teenage girls or teenage girls and their fathers. He is great, however, at creating FLAT characters with no development beyond the clothes they wear and writing plots that drag farther than they should. I have been to Japan, Kyoto prefecture In fact (though not the exact pl ...more
Casey (A Passion for Books)
When first hearing about this book, I was automatically intrigued by the setting. I haven’t read, or even know of, many books that are set in Japan. Although I was a little worried (mainly because of the unique setting) and also excited, I was not disappointed. I really liked the way Japanese culture was mixed in too – made the story less boring, plus I learned some new things about Japan’s history along the way.

It was a little slow getting to learning about Kara’s nightmares, but this is the fi
Reading this book was like reading a japanese horror movie. The book had that same feeling of something lurking just outside of your peripheral vision but at the same time the story had that muted feel. The story wasn't over-excagerated and I liked the main character. Kara and her father has just moved to Japan and she starts a new school. She finds it hard to be the only foreign student at her school, but she makes friends with a few of the people there. What I really liked about this book was ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Ashley B for

Kara Foster and her father just moved to Japan to follow their dreams after the death of Kara's mother. She is the American girl, an outsider. Then she meets Sakura, another outsider at the private school.

Sakura is haunted by her sister's death that happened during the previous school year. Then, Kara starts having nightmares. Other students turn up dead. But who is killing them?

The story went on pretty slow from the start. Being a supernatural book, I wa
May 16, 2015 ~*~Meg~*~ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Ok so, high points in this book:
• Japan
• Japanese words used are explained
• Heroine actually KNOWS Japanese & has a backbone
• Spookiness and creepiness
• Very very different supernatural creatures
• & just a pinch of romance (& tragedy)

Low points:
• Heroine is a little slow on asking & getting answers
• Heroine doesn't seem to have any ideas when it comes to "how can I find info on this"
• Heroine may have a backbone when it comes to confronting b*itchy high school girls but at the
Mar 16, 2014 Cass rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Okay, so I honestly didn't know what to expect when I chose this book, since it was on discount, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The dialogue in this book is a bit strained, but I guess that's normal when you are translating from such a respectable language as Japanese. The characters were awesome and sometimes I felt like I was actually in the story, as frightening as that is, just because there was so much description. I honestly hope that I can go to Japan one day and see what i ...more
Erin Sterling
Kara and her father have moved to Japan for a fresh start since her mother died and to fulfill a long dream of theirs. They both start at a private school--she attending, he teaching--unaware of a vicious student death that took place the previous fall. Kara befriends Sakura, the dead girl's sister, and finds herself having terribly realistic nightmares, as more and more sinister things seem to be occurring, including the violent deaths of more students and creepy cats that seem to stalk her at ...more
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Other Books in the Series

The Waking (3 books)
  • Spirits of the Noh (The Waking, #2)
  • A Winter of Ghosts

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“Tell me you didn’t really watch Nausicaa.”
Miho tried to keep a serious face, which must have been difficult enough in her flannel Hello Kitty pajamas. But the girl was a terrible liar. She smirked.
“No. Kiki just ended. So much for our Miyazaki marathon.”
“We got through two movies,” Sakura said. “Tonight, that’s a marathon.”
They’d wanted to watch movies tonight, just to clear their minds, and had agreed on nothing violent. All three of them loved the films of Miyazaki, who had become perhaps the most successful director in Japan while making only animated films. Kara had vetoed Howl’s Moving Castle because she’d seen it too recently, and they had all seen My Neighbor Totoro far too many times, so they had started with Spirited Away.”
“But fear skitters down her spine and her body flinches backward.
The room feels fluid… liquid… and Kara wades through it, the edges of her perception melting as she climbs onto the bed.
Kara opens her mouth to scream –
Only nothing comes out, and she knows why. She’s been here before. Doesn’t even have to reach up to feel the smooth skin covering the place her mouth ought to be. She has no mouth, no face, no scream. No voice.”
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