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Dream #1

Dream Student

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What would you do if you could see other people’s dreams? If you could watch their hidden fantasies and uncover their deepest, darkest secrets…without them ever knowing?

Sara Barnes is about to find out. She thought that all she had to worry about was final exams, Christmas shopping and deciding whether she likes the cute freshman in the next dorm who’s got a crush on her.

But when she starts seeing dreams that aren’t hers, she learns more than she ever wanted to know about her friends, her classmates…and a strange, terrifying man whose dreams could get Sara killed.

“Dream Student” is the thrilling first installment of the Dreams series.

287 pages, Kindle Edition

First published March 18, 2013

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About the author

J.J. DiBenedetto

31 books399 followers
J.J. (James) DiBenedetto was born in Yonkers, New York. He attended Case Western Reserve university, where as his classmates can attest, he was a complete nerd. Very little has changed since then.

He currently lives in Arlington, Virginia with his beautiful wife and their cat (who has thoroughly trained them both). When he's not writing, James works in the direct marketing field, enjoys the opera, photography and the New York Giants, among other interests.

J.J. is the author of the Dream Doctor Mysteries, the Jane Barnaby Adventures and several other works.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 295 reviews
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,199 followers
May 4, 2018


You can find the full review and more about this book on my blog!

I really like this cover,especially the font.I think it describes somehow the book,and even that there is a person in it,which I hate in covers,this one pulled it out greatly.Great job on that!


Dream Student is a fantasy dark thriller which contains some really dark and suspense moments.I found it a little big boring to be honest,especially the beginning,but I can't say I didn't enjoy it,it had it's moments.For there there was a little to much description,but that is okay because this is the first book in the series.


I also had a problem with the writing style.I do think it was so easy and simple,poorly written for me.English is not my native language and to be honest I understand every single word in the book.I am not saying that is bad,just that I found it a bit boring because or the phase repeating thing.


I liked the characters.I think this is a dark story with light characters.They there some of the most positive characters I have ever read about.Also I liked the main one,Sara,who is determined and strong and caring,and also I really liked the roommate.


The story follows a girl who is in the medicine faculty.One day she discovers that she has the ability to see other people's dream.Everything changes when she finds out that there are not just dreams,they are really happening.


I recommend this book to every fantasy reader,especially the ones who like dark and long series.

Profile Image for Christian Nikitas.
290 reviews49 followers
September 20, 2021
This is a very nice book about a girl who can see other people's dreams and uses what she finds out to catch a murderer and save a couple of lives. I really enjoyed the story. I look forward to getting the next book of the series.
Profile Image for Brittain *Needs a Nap and a Drink*.
373 reviews445 followers
April 9, 2015
Ok, fuck it.

DNF at 27%.

I pride myself on being able to finish all of the books I start, mostly out of sheer stubbornness. I hate to admit defeat. But this book did it. I can't read another page.

Sara is having dreams that she doesn't think are hers. She meets a guy that is in her dreams and falls madly in love with him instantly. He is able to cure her nightmares and stop her screaming just by being near and everything is all cheery.

First of all...

Dreams don't make sense most of the time. If I have a dream about a person, I assume that I've seen them before and my brain is putting them into a dream. Hell, I have dreams about Dumbledore doing the "Crank Dat" dance in the Great Hall after the muggleborns figure out how to set up magical speakers but that doesn't mean I'm going to freak out if I hear the song again. I never assume that they are premonitions or the guy that is fucking fantasizing about me in a mini skirt in my dream is actually doing so.

That would make you insane.

Secondly, I hate insta-love. Instant attraction is real. Instant love? No. Instant trust? No. She hasn't had a boyfriend in a long time and Sara pretty much just jumps into bed with Brian immediately.

Her best friend, Beth, barely even tries to say it is a bad idea. My friends would be tying me down and saying "What the actual fuck?" And Brian is majorly creepy. Staring at her during a party? Dreaming about her in a cheerleading outfit? Being in love with her right away? She doesn't act like a good friend, just someone that is tired of dealing with her roommate's crap. They get all cuddly and supportive and then doesn't try to warn her off.

Adding onto it, it is so fucking stereotypical and cliched it isn't even funny. Hot best friend, check. Scary dreams, check. Hot guy changes her life and saves her, check. Puts on a dress and is magically the hottest thing on two legs, check. It reads like a bad 90's teen movie and I was rolling my eyes so hard that I could see my brain.

All of this book is just a big NO for me.

The writing is juvenile and silly. It's excessively dated (although I can appreciate the calling each others dorm rooms instead of cell phones) and I felt like it was an adult book written by a 13 year old. It's like watching an old tv show where everything is "rad" and "totally awesome".

I get that it's supposed to be paranormal or fantasy or whatever but it just isn't punching that ticket for me. It seems like a book about a girl who thinks she can see the future in her dreams but is really just batshit crazy. If there is a big twist at the end where she is in an insane asylum and all of it is just a delusion, that might make the book slightly more interesting but I'm not going to stick around and find out.

In conclusion:

1) Weird dream logic

2) Insta-love

3) Shitty enabling annoying too-hot-to-handle best friend

4) Nothing new. All annoying tropes.

Over it. The book wins. I'm so done.

Review also posted at Tara Belle Talking

Profile Image for N.N. Heaven.
Author 6 books1,823 followers
August 15, 2017
Ever wonder what it would be like to witness other people's dreams? Well, for Sara, it's more like a nightmare. Every night, she has dreams that aren't her own. Worse, she learns all the deep, dark secrets of her friends, family and people in her town. But when she starts having dreams about a man murdering her, she knows she must act. But who to trust and who'll believe her?

This is such an incredible new adult paranormal! I loved the fast-pace of the plot, the characters (especially Sara) and the bit of romance. It gripped me from the first page and still hasn't let go! A must read!

My Rating: 5 stars
Profile Image for Trang Tran .
279 reviews143 followers
January 24, 2016
The story opens up with Sarah, who’s in the middle of her dream and get pulled to another person’s dream : places she never saw, people she never encountered. Some of her dreams are also horrible nightmares, people’s dark fantasies she had to endure. Her best friend, Becky, popular and hot, will try to accompany her and try to changer her mind by convincing her to have fun, get loose. One day, at a bar, Sarah meets for the first time Brian. She’s been in Brian’s dreams many times but never met him before. Will Brian recognize her when they meet?

In my opinion, the book was enjoyable and fun. But I have to admit here, the author touches upon dreams, which is my favourite concept ever, so maybe I’m biased haha. I have always been fascinated by dreams ,where they come from and what they can bring us. Exploring that concept was a fun ride for me. The ending was surprisingly good ! What I didn’t like about the book was the slow pace, it kind of dragged on in the beginning and it got only really good near the end. People should also keep in mind that the book was part of a series so I guess it’s normal that the first volume was to introduce us to the characters and the relations. The love at first sight was a bit too cliché for me hahah but that’s only my opinion because I know there are people who love that part.

Overall, I give a 4 stars because I think the storyline is original and intriguing, enough to keep us hooked to the end and find out more about the mystery surrounding the book. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series !

Thank you to the author for giving me the free book in exchange for an honest review.

Tramg- Book Blogger and Reviewer
Profile Image for Amber.
Author 6 books8 followers
July 8, 2013
You can't give half stars with this system but I gave this book 2.75 out of five stars.

Now I know that seems like a really low rating but I will explain why. Simply put the story dragged with a lot of information that I didn't enjoy reading. There was so much detail about class schedules and final exams that it just got boring at a point. Too much of the story in this first book focused on everything but Sara's dreams and I'm not really sure that was the author's intention.

This story is written in the first person viewpoint and it falls into the trap of over writing some parts and underwriting others. Sara's ability to see into dreams is really cool and I have never read a story about such a power. I wanted to know more about the dreams Sara was seeing and how having access to those dreams was affecting her everyday life but instead all this emphasis is placed on her relationship with her boyfriend. The relationship came off as complete overkill, entirely too sentimental, and sometimes completely unbelievable. It got irritating reading about Sara and Brian.

This book is also very dated. It takes place in 1989-1991 and readers are constantly reminded of the dates. I found it a little hard to relate to some things because I wasn't always sure what the author is referring too.

With that being said I really enjoyed the last two chapters of the book. Once they began to hunt down the killer, the story got interesting. I also enjoyed the different characters in this story. We saw a lot of people and personalities throughout the book and that was fun.

-book provided by the Author through PNR NaUBA group Author/Reader Exchange
Profile Image for Darcey.
928 reviews197 followers
Shelved as 'd-n-f'
August 16, 2021
DNF @ some stage

Just dodgy romance. That was my main issue. There was a WHOLE HEAP of insta-love and love at first sight.... I don't do that. That's it for me!
Profile Image for Dianne.
6,766 reviews589 followers
August 8, 2015
Dreams, we have all heard they have meanings, but for medical student, Sara, her dreams are portents of events yet to happen, and they are deadly, dangerous and haunting. From the day to day schedule of a busy med student to the terrifying nightmares she endures, Sara finds strength and support from her new boyfriend and her amazing roommate as a sadistic murderer’s bloody trail is recorded in her brain through her nightmares. Is there a way to predict who will be next or a way to prevent these deaths? Feeling impotent, frustrated and terrified, will she make the hit list or will someone close to her become another brutalized victim? Time is running out on both her sanity and the lives of young women and Sara is running on empty, sleep deprived, under pressure and unsure of how to proceed, can this monster be stopped?

J.J. DiBenedetto’s Dream Student will pull you into another time, another century, as we visit the 1980’s, the pressures of medical school and the nightmares of one girl who can predict the most heinous of events, because she is seeing them in someone else’s dreams. Rich with day to day details, when the meat and potatoes of this plot are served, it is non-stop mystery, suspense and gives a whole new meaning to interpreting one’s dreams. Nightlights optional.

Series: Dreams - Book 1
Publication Date: November 26, 2013
Publisher: J. J. DiBenedetto
Genre: New Adult Paranormal
Print Length: 286 pages
Available from: AmazonBarnes & Noble
Reviewed for: http://tometender.blogspot.com

Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,723 reviews1,278 followers
September 13, 2014
(Source: Downloaded for free from Amazon.co.uk.)

There wasn’t anything horribly wrong with this book, I just found it boring.

Sara was a bit of an odd character, I’m not sure I’ve ever come across a girl who acted and thought the way she did, and it was a little odd and strange at points. I didn’t really like any of the other characters in the story either.

The storyline was a little questionable for me, and I didn’t quite get why Sara didn’t see how nuts she would sound when she told people that her dreams were coming true. The writing was passable, the story was passable, but the pace was way off. Sara seemed to describe everything in great detail, including lots of stuff we really didn’t need to know, and I got so bogged down in all this unnecessary stuff! It really made the book drag, and I got to the point where I didn’t really care all that much what happened. It felt like trying to pick all the red M&M’s out of a pack whilst wearing 3D glasses, and it spoiled the story for me.

There was romance, but I didn’t really care for it. I didn’t like the characters so I didn’t particularly care about their love lives or how great their sex lives were. We also seemed to have quite a bad case of insta-love going on.

The end wasn’t particularly special, but I was really pleased to see the end of this book. I think other people might enjoy it, but it really wasn’t for me.
Overall; not for me,
6 out of 10.
Profile Image for Debbie "Buried in Her TBR Pile".
1,901 reviews245 followers
March 12, 2018
2.5 generous stars

Own in: The Paranormal 13 (13 free books featuring witches, vampires, werewolves, mermaids, psychics, Loki, time travel and more!): Boxed Set

It must be me - I had a hard time getting into to this one - the story began in a miasma of confusion - what is going on here. Sara is a college student who begins to have dreams - nightmares really - about a man who is killing girls - some she knows. Her roommate tries to be sympathetic and suggests a visit to one of her psychology professors. She undergoes a sleep study and the results are confusing and anomalous - and that is all we hear on this. Sara continues to dream and then a little sleuthing on the man in her dreams - some of her friends get involved. They never even go to the police - but in a kind of Scooby-Doo manner, they start to investigate and bust the serial killer.

This one had the bones to be an ok read. As this is Book 1, I think the author shortened this one so this could be a series. I doubt I will read any others in the series.
Profile Image for ☆☆Hannah☆☆.
2,972 reviews39 followers
June 22, 2017
This is one of those books where I wish goodreads had half stars. This really was more of a 2.5 rating. The part that I liked least was all the extra stuff. I felt like the author spent too much time focusing on everything but the dreams. Maybe I just wanted more excitement. However, I was intrigued enough to want to at least read the next book.
Profile Image for Alison (Ali's Books) Flores.
1,288 reviews35 followers
May 14, 2013
Sara Barnes is a twenty-one year old medical student that finds herself inside the dreams of others. This can be a good thing; it brings her Brian. But, it can also be a really, really bad thing. She keeps seeing an atrocious act take place. She sees this act play out over several nights, and then one night she sees a body being dumped. After seeing the face of the victim on the news, she knows this is really happening. What is she supposed to do, and how is she supposed to balance these crazy dreams with school and her new boyfriend?

This isn’t one of those fast-paced, suck you right in books. DiBenedetto gives you a slow, but steady pace as he keeps feeding you enough tid-bits to keep you biting for more. Sara is your basic nerdy bookworm type. She’d rather have her nose in a book than go out for a night on the town. She doesn’t have a lot of personality, but it suits her character. Her best friend Beth has plenty of spunk for the both of them, though.

Not a whole lot of background is given as to who the characters are. I especially found myself wanting to know more about Brian. He’s a real quiet, shy guy. This put me off a little, because I tend to go more for the alpha males, but Brian does loosen up as the story progresses. Sara brings him out of his shell a lot. I liked that, but I didn’t think it fit her personality to be so bold with him.

In some places the dialogue seemed unnatural to me. I’m not sure if it was because of the dry personalities. There were places, though, where I was completely sucked in and emotionally involved. This happened more and more towards the end of the book. There were a few scenes that I never understood the point of. I’m not sure if these were used to keep you guessing or not, but I found them distracting. There were a lot of people mentioned that didn’t seem to fit into the plot at all, and I found myself getting confused sometimes with all the names. On the plus side, I never found a scene lacking in details. There was definitely a lot of suspense, and sometimes I found myself holding my breath. On this note, there’s violence that takes place, and it’s extreme. You aren’t given great details, but you still feel emotionally involved – so much so, that I felt like I was stuck in a horror flick. There’s some strong language used, but it’s rare.

Overall, while the book had its issues, I was still intrigued enough to keep reading. I really liked the overall plot, and I felt like the dialogue improved greatly as the story progressed. Brian and Sara’s relationship was really strong throughout the story, and I loved that it never wavered. This is so extremely rare in stories today. I found myself pulling for Brian to become the confident man I saw him growing to be. I’ll rate this book a solid 3 stars & I’ll definitely follow it up with the next in the series! Definitely not bad for an author’s first work!!
*I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.*
Profile Image for Kyra Halland.
Author 32 books93 followers
June 28, 2013
Kyra's Star Ratings:
Story: ****
Characters: ****
Writing: ****
Suspense: ***

(I was provided with a free copy of this book for the purpose of giving an honest review.)

Dream Student is the story of a pre-med student who is an unwilling witness to other people's dreams. The novel is balanced between Sara's progess through her junior year of college as a pre-med student, a romance that is literally a dream come true, and a paranormal suspense novel where Sara finds herself inside a serial killer's dreams. The novel pulled me in from the beginning with the first few dream sequences. The prose is smooth and well-crafted with a sly sense of humor, and the author, a man, does an excellent job of getting inside the head of a female college student and telling her story in first-person voice. The dreams are written in third-person, an effective way to convey the kind of creepy, out-of-body experience that this feels like to Sara.

For my own preference, I would have liked it if the three plotlines were more focused so that the serial-killer plotline was the main plot, with the romance as a major subplot and the college-life parts as background or a supplementary subplot, in order to maintain the momentum and suspense. But Sara, her boyfriend Brian, and her best friend Beth are engaging enough characters that I still enjoyed reading about their romantic and academic escapades. And the ending, where Sara, Brian, and Beth race to stop the killer before he strikes again, kept me reading non-stop.

Dream Student is a well-written, engaging book, and I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series, to find out what lies ahead for Sara, Brian - and her ability to see other people's dreams.

Profile Image for Bárbara Moura.
44 reviews17 followers
June 17, 2015

Read my entire review (as well as another blogger's) in English and Portuguese here.

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. I would like to thank the author for their kindness!

I started this book without great expectations, because although the premise seemed very interesting, the synopsis itself did not arouse my curiosity.

When we begin reading, we are immediately introduced to the dreams of Sara and Brian, the main characters, and the strangeness of observing another person's dream. Sara does not realize immediately what is happening, and it isn’t perfectly obvious to the reader as well, although there is something very intriguing in the narrative.

Sara is a character with whom it is easy to empathize, a normal girl whose biggest problem to date is to keep her college grades up in order to enter medical school (the American higher education system bothers me a bit, but I could ignore it for the most part). Sara describes herself as an introvert, but not necessarily shy - parties are not her ideal of fun but she ocasionally allows herself to be dragged to one by her best friend and roommate, Beth.

(Continue reading in the link above).
Profile Image for Jennifer.
2,080 reviews36 followers
August 28, 2014
Dream Student started out with such potential, but it progressively just got worse and worse for me. I was really excited to start reading it at first, the first few chapters drew me in and made me want to find out what was going on. It quickly became tedious and kind of boring though. Unfortunate.

Sara is a pre-med college student and suddenly she starts being able to see other people's dreams. Not often, usually her roommate or boyfriend, but then they jump to a murderer. It is always the same thing until he kills the current girl and moves on to the next one. An interesting idea, and the dreams were the best part of the book, but it just didn't work for me. Maybe if they would have been a bigger part, and there would have been more dreams that weren't so normal, or just more people's dreams, it would have been more interesting. That and if Sara did something about the dreams, or used them for good, for the first 75% of the book.

So what was the first 75% of the book? Well it was a pretty boring, detailed description of Sara going to school. I swear you were told everything she ate, or didn't eat, or when she forgot to eat. It seemed like every single mealtime was in there. Why? I am not sure. I don't care. That is just one of the over detailed descriptions about her life in this book. There are also way too much detail about what classes she was going to and her study habits and just everything about her life. She is a college kid, finals are coming up, you don't have to detail every hour of her day. I will assume she is studying and going to class and eating sometimes. It was a bit too much.

The other issue with the book? It was almost all telling not showing. I like showing. If you just tell me I don't connect with the characters or what is happening. Sara meets Brian shortly after she sees his dream where he is dreaming of her. I actually liked that scene, liked how Sara described the love at first sight thing. I got it, but then it quickly just was not right for me. I don't know what it was. It was like someone who didn't know what this would be like writing what they think people would want to see or something. It was just off for me. Sara and Brian are both in love right away which was actually fine for me, but some of the thoughts she had about Brian...some of the ways she thought of him were just...I wouldn't want someone to think of me that way. It was almost like she didn't really like him that much at times, but for some reason she felt like she had to be with him. It was odd and I didn't like it. I didn't see the connection because once again we were told not shown. That and sometimes she spoke about herself in a strange way as well. She also got a different personality when all of this started, and she commented on it like why did I say that? I didn't know I wanted to do that until I said it? Odd. I've never spoken like that to anyone before, etc. It was just like she was being controlled by something or someone else, but nothing ever happened with that. It was just the way it was.

One last thing, this book is set in 1989/1990. I am not sure why. Really the only reason I know this is because the date was at the beginning of every chapter. It was just like if you are going to set the book at a certain time then set it in that time. There was only one or two scenes where I thought oh if this were now they would just use their cell phone or something. Basically there was no way to tell this was set in 1989/1990. It was just another thing I found odd.

So the last 25% of the book Sara finally decides to start trying to do something with her dreams. She finally figures out who the killer is (who unfortunately is the guy I figured it would be when you first see him at the beginning of the story) and then instead of going to the police they try and solve the crime themselves! I mean what if the police don't believe them? I get that, but really if it were me I would go to them first. If they did nothing then maybe I would try and stop it myself. But police first. Really when I saw the first girl who was killed and recognized her from my dreams I would have went to them to try and help with the next girl. Even if they didn't believe me I would have tried, and afterwards I would start trying to figure out if I can find a way to figure out who the killer is. I mean you have access to his dreams so maybe you can find something. I wouldn't just try not to think about it and hope it goes away and I don't have to continue seeing girls who are murdered every night. I guess that is just me.

Overall not a very good read. It had so much promise, but it just didn't work for me.

This review was originally posted to Jen in Bookland

Profile Image for Jess the Audiobookworm.
337 reviews68 followers
November 14, 2016
4.25 ★ Audiobook⎮ Dream Student was a really solid read. It took me a couple of months to get through it, mostly because of its slow pace. This wasn’t the kind of story that immediately grabbed me, unlike my previous DiBenedetto experience with Finders Keepers. Dream Student was a much more laid-back listen.

In a way, the pace is sort of fitting for the premise. Dream Student is about pre-med student, Sarah Barnes, who suddenly finds herself with the ability to telepathically (and involuntarily) enter other people’s dreams. “Mellow” is a good way to describe the vibe of this story. Much of it takes place within dreams, including most of the early action.

A fair amount of suspension of disbelief is required, particularly where the romance is concerned. Fortunately, DiBenedetto does an excellent job of endearing the reader to Sarah’s romantic interest. The character development was strongest with the core three characters: Sarah, her boyfriend, and her best friend. To my pleasant surprise, Jane Barnaby, the protagonist from another of DiBenedetto’s series The Jane Barnaby Adventures, makes a cameo appearance.

Sarah and Jane attended college together in the late 1980s and early 1990s. That’s an interesting timeframe for a series and one not often seen, in my experience. It offers a neat glimpse into a time that I can barely remember. While listening to Dream Student, I kept having to make mental allocations for the time period. For example, it took me a few seconds to realize why one of the characters didn’t use their cell phone to call for help in the case of an emergency. Although this is certainly not historical fiction, the time period adds so much to the atmosphere of the overall story. The many pop-culture references are also a lot of fun!

Towards the end of Dream Student, the pace picked up considerably. I daresay the action near the ending had me on the edge of my seat. Although the first 75% of the story was nowhere near that intense, I was never really bored with it. DiBenedetto’s writing was pleasant and I enjoyed the process of experiencing the story unfold. The Dreams series has 12 installments, so I understand Mr. DiBenedetto needing to pace the plot. This approach allowed ample time for world building. This installment served as a solid foundation for installments to come.

I don’t think I enjoyed Sarah or Dream Student quiet as much as Jane and Finders Keepers, but I appreciate their differences. I plan to continue on with both series and I’m excited to see what DiBenedetto has in store for each of them. I already have the next two installments of the Dreams series and the ending of Dream Student teased something big to come, so I won’t wait long.

Narration review: Heather Jane Hogan captured the theme of this story magnificently. Her voice had a certain “dreamy” quality, especially during the dream sequences. I quickly learned not to listen to this audiobook in bed at night because Hogan’s voice lulled me to sleep on more than one occasion! Her narration pace is slow and soothing which added to the dream-like effect, but also increased the overall sense of slowness during the majority of the story. I appreciate the suitability of Hogan’s narration for the premise of the series, but I am also eager to experience it in an upcoming installment for comparison before making a final judgement. I’m expecting the following installments to be much more action-oriented now that much of the groundwork has been laid. ♣︎

➜ This audiobook was graciously gifted to me by its author, J.J. DiBenedetto, in exchange for a review containing my honest thoughts and opinions. Thanks, J.J.!
Profile Image for Lisabet Sarai.
Author 174 books166 followers
June 17, 2016
Sara Barnes is an ordinary college student. Perhaps she’s a bit more studious than most, given that she plans a career in medicine, but for the most part, her worries correspond to those of the typical university junior: getting up early for class, inedible cafeteria food, tough exams, freezing her butt off walking across campus, the rare hangover from a wild party. Studying and socializing with the other men and women in her coed dorm, she views herself as totally normal—even boring, compared to the more vivacious and fashion-conscious roommate and best friend, Beth.

Then, without warning, Sara’s life turns extraordinary. She begins to see the dreams of the people around her. Mostly, this is just embarrassing and annoying, but one dream recurs again and again, showing her horrible visions of a serial killer who targets young women just like Sara. She wakes up screaming from these terrible dreams—even before one of the girls she sees in the dream turns up dead by the side of a nearby road.

Fortunately, Sara has another extraordinary experience: love at first sight. Though she’s a practical young woman, she can’t deny the evidence of her body and heart. Shy, bookish and two years younger than Sara, Brian is an unlikely soul mate, but he proves his love and fortitude as Sara struggles for her sanity.

Supported by Brian and Beth, Sara descends into her blood-soaked dreams in a desperate attempt to unravel the identity of the killer, before he strikes again.

When I re-read the above synopsis of Dream Student, the book sounds hokey and contrived. Nevertheless, the novel really grabbed me. J.J. DiBenedetto made me care about Sara. I didn’t find her dreams very convincing—dreams are generally not that coherent, plus if she were experiencing them as the dreamer did, wouldn’t she have been seeing the world through the dreamer’s eyes?—but her near-breakdown in reaction to them rang true. I found myself eager to return to the book each night, to see what would happen next, even though at some level I knew Sara and her friends would solve the mystery. (Indeed, I had a strong hunch who the murderer was chapters before the characters figured it out.)

Part of the book’s appeal is the intimacy of the first person narration. We’re literally in Sara’s head as she tries to handle her terrifying new power as well as her more mundane worldly concerns, like her bratty younger sibling, Brian’s disapproving mom, and the competition for a medical school scholarship. We share her wonder and doubt as she grows closer to Brian. And she’s such a likable person, without being a goody-two-shoes, that I really started to enjoy her company.

Dream Student is the first volume in a nine book series that follows Sara from her college days through medical school, marriage and motherhood. I have to admit I’m wondering how the author will maintain the interest, without falling into a repetitious “Sara solves another dream mystery” pattern. However, I liked this novel enough that I’m willing to give the next one a try.

(I received the first three books of the Dream series from the author as a thank you for hosting him on my blog, without any obligation to post a review.)

Profile Image for H Rose.
Author 13 books63 followers
March 21, 2013
It's a great book if you're excited from page one, and I WAS. I got so excited reading the prologue that I began freaking out because moi Kindle Paperwhite seriously needed to charge. I was out doing urgent errands and OMGosh I just had to finish the errands ASAP because I knew moi Kindle Paperwhite would shut down soon and I need to get to my laptop so I could read in the fabu~* Amazon Cloud. I could hardly wait to get some place where I could settle in and read because this book is INTRIGUING from the get-go. When you buy this book, be certain you are somewhere you can read undisturbed when you open it (and be certain your Kindle is charged). Seriously. The story is very well-written, sophisticated prose, without being slick and you will not know what is going to happen next. Maybe you see things coming a mile away, normally. Well, kiss that ability to predict plot with certainty good-bye because the author of this book will keep you guessing (and it will make you nervous and excite you terribly). The author skillfully handles transitions between characters--while they are in a dream state. This book is peculiarly good, in the sense that the read feels like the work of a Vonnegut or a Heinlein or the like; the book in no way reads like the work of first time author. Think mesmerizing, think engaging, think psychologically compelling. The characters in this book are on a journey where their unconscious and shadow reality realms, their own mysterious unknown natures and the secrets of reality, are bumping up against their actual waking actuality. This story is spooky, exciting and the read is entirely addictive. I got chills and that just doesn't happen (sure, I might feel fear reading certain books but #goosebumps on my neck and arms? that is the result of some really great writing). I admit that I love Jung's writing on dreams and have been dream journaling for around 15 years and so find dreams compelling but those interests aren't prerequisites for enjoying this seriously trippy, entrancing serial fiction. Plus there is a a romantic subplot that is thrilling and dreamy in it's own way--so heartfelt and authentic in feeling. The main characters are primarily students and the setting is primarily a university. If you are interested in a compelling and exciting read with heart, that you won't be able to put down, then this book is for you. Think #nightmare #dream #thrilling. I can't wait to buy and read Dream Doctor (Dreams, book 2). Happy reading~*
Profile Image for Dina Roberts.
Author 3 books22 followers
May 28, 2014
This book takes place in 1989, but there's not much of a 1980's feeling in the book. Well, there's a lack of internet. That's very 1980's. But I would think a book published in this century, taking place in the 1980's, would try to be more of a period piece. I'd expect more popular culture references...more fashion fads. There's not many. Though the chapter titles have very cute references to 1980's TV shows and movies.

I was thinking maybe the author wrote this book back in the 1980's, then with publishing being so easy this century, he dug it out of it's grave, and now it's been reborn. And from what I saw in the acknowledgment pages, it looks like I was right.

The editing of the book doesn't seem very polished, but in a way I think that's a good thing. Well, I liked it a lot. The author rambles on about things that don't have much to do with the main plot...just kind of not-really necessary information. For example, there's a lot of talk about buying Secret Santa Gifts. I'm not sure if that adds to the supernatural thriller plot or if it provides character development. Maybe it does provide character development, or at least it made the characters seem more real to me.

The book is about a college student (Sara) who is going the medical route. She starts entering other people's dreams...including some guy who soon becomes her boyfriend. There's a severe lack of sexual tension with all that. One, two, three....she has a boyfriend. They're madly n love. The development of the relationship was a bit fast, but in the end I didn't mind it so much.

The thriller part was thrilling. I felt spooked out and afraid at some point....so the book succeeded there for me.

Some of the dream parts were a bit off. The whole idea is that Sara enters people's dreams. When it comes to her college buddies, the dreams are very dreamlike. Surreal...people appearing in public naked. That kind of thing. When it comes to the thriller storyline, the dreams are very straight-forward. More like psychic visions. Or it's as if, instead of entering the person's dream, she's entering their memory or future. She uses the dreams to get information needed to fight the crime.

Despite my complaints, I really did like this book. I want to read more from the series.

Profile Image for Sam Goodno.
Author 25 books117 followers
June 12, 2014
Honestly, I’m a little on the fence with this story. There are so many good things to say about this but there are also a few more negative things. Depending on your preference as a reader, will depend on how you view those negative points.
It was a fast-paced plot, riddled with mystery, suspense, and even a bit of sex and strong language. The characters were developed well enough that I could easily see them as individuals and not cardboard cut-outs. They used “real” language too. Meaning, they didn’t walk around talking like they were afraid to cuss like normal college students do. They even acted like I would assume normal college students would by exercising their individuality, going to parties, clubs, dorm life, etc.
This is NA, which I absolutely loved. The main character is a med student trying to get through junior year while dealing with mysterious and terrifying dreams of murder. There are others dreams mixed in that are quite comical, but still believable. And I use believable in the sense that I could see things like this happening in the story’s world/within the context of the story.
I was pulled in. Mostly. I found myself wanting to read faster and faster at certain points which kept me turning the pages. The author did an excellent job of keeping up the suspense and character reactions to such suspense. Though, the points were slow in the reveal, which I felt went quite well with the fast-paced plot. It was well balanced and really nice. The fast-pace wasn’t rushed to the point I felt like things were going too fast. There were points that were slower, though I feel they were almost too slow at points. The parts that lost me were where it felt more like the character’s reactions felt forced at times and the same with some of the events in the story. Still, it kept me reading and guessing, which is what ultimately lead to my enjoyment of the story.
This wasn’t a fully dark story, nor was it all fluffy and tenderhearted, yet a combination of both, which I did enjoy as well.
Ultimately, this is one of those stories that surprised me and makes me glad the story continues as I do plan to eventually finish the series and see where the characters go and end up in the end.

Please Note that this review will appear on Amazon and my personal site.
Profile Image for Alisha.
926 reviews78 followers
September 17, 2014
Dream Student is a bit of a toss up for me. I spent most of it skim reading the boring parts that I didn't really care about. This book is by no means fast paced, it starts off slow and continues at a slow pace, hence the skim reading the majority. There's repetitive and boring detail all about her classes and her college life, the dreams themselves where much the same and how she would wake up from them. It was all so repetitive and bland.

BUT. There are parts where you get little bits of information that's enough to keep you interested to keep you reading, I would imagine, while you try to work out who the killer is. To be honest, as soon as the killer's name was casually mentioned, I knew it was him. His reasons for killing people...not all that convincing. What can I say, I've seen waaaaayyy too many episodes of Criminal Minds! I just kept reading because I felt like I should see it to the end.

The main character didn't really have much of a personality and I didn't really connect with her, I actually liked her best friend, Beth, more. I just thought Sara was a bit of a bitch for no reason on multiple occasions and the lack of personality didn't really do her any favors in being likable. Brian was also very bland.

For me this book was very bland for the majority, the dreams are about all that happens that provide the intrigue to keep you reading, unless like me, you work out the character who's incredibly shady when mentioned, is behind it.

The whole Brian and Sara thing was off. He was really quiet and shy, and how she acted with him was out of character for her, and the whole thing felt odd to me, much like most of the dialogue. I think I wasn't even a quarter of the way through when I started skim reading large sections of text with characters wittering on about this or that.

I'm not really sure if I'd pick up the second book, while there where some good parts to the book, the general blandness really put me off.
Profile Image for Whitney.
420 reviews43 followers
June 17, 2014
First, a special thank you to Mr. DiBenedetto for sending me a free copy of his book!

Dream Student is about Sara Barnes, a college student in the late eighties, who starts having disturbing nightmares about murders that end up being true. I love the premise, an other-worldly, psychic kinda deal, but the writing was very difficult to handle. I felt there was a lot of excess dialogue, description, what have you, that could have been left out. For example, pretty much every time Sara and her friends go to the school cafeteria to eat, there’s always discussion about how much the food sucks and everyone ends up eating cereal. Every. Time. And sometimes it read like a middle school diary, like each act of the day was blatantly spelled out. Other than those issues with how the story flowed, I did enjoy this novel. I especially liked the romance between Sara and Brian, and the friendship between Sara and Beth. Both her boyfriend and friend were so supportive of her nightmares and they all worked together to figure out a cause or a solution. I did have the killer pegged early on in the book; but it was still interesting to see the friends work together and put an end to it. I would like to read the others in this series because I like the idea of seeing into other people’s dreams, and also because each one seems to build off the others,continuously developing Sara’s relationships. I thought the author did a great job of portraying the terror Sara felt while having such nightmares, like when she bit the arm off of her stuffed animal. It was also neat that she was able to think back into her dreams and visualize pivotal details about the scene, that ultimately led to the capture of the dream murderer! Thank you again to the author!

You can find this on my blog: https://wordswisdomwhitney.wordpress....
Profile Image for Dermot Davis.
Author 14 books49 followers
March 22, 2013
Most of us sleep and wake up not remembering or even wanting to remember our dreams. Some of us wake and do remember our dreams but tend to regard them as maybe curious, quirky or even perhaps a little zany. Overall, we tend to regard them as irrelevant and having no bearing whatsoever on our waking life. And then there's Sara. Sara does remember her dreams and her dreams are very relevant to waking life because not only do they involve people she knows, they involve people she knows doing things in her dreams that they are also doing or wish they would be doing in their real lives. In most cases, what people are doing in her dreams are innocuous enough: students cramming for exams, students having crushes on and fantasies about other students but then there's a mystery man who looks like he's hurting people, maybe even murdering people. It's not like Sara experimented with lucid dreaming techniques or self-hypnosis, no, she's just like the rest of us: she goes to bed, sleeps, dreams and wakes up. However, what she does witness in her dreams changes her and everyone around her. Thank heavens she's got her best friend and roommate, Beth and her new dreamboat and devoted boyfriend, Brian to help her not only keep her sanity but also help her become a sleuth and possibly save lives. The more I read this book, the more I had to remind myself that this is a first book by a first time novelist. Terrific book and terrific writer who definitely has a bright future. Bravo!
Profile Image for Nikki.
51 reviews1 follower
May 13, 2013
“Dream Student” by J. J. DiBenedetto was a fantastic paranormal suspense novel. Sara, age 21, is in her junior year of college when she realizes she is seeing other people’s dreams at night. The book becomes a giant mystery and a race against time to find a way to stop a murderer whose dreams she is seeing night after night.

DiBenedetto does an excellent job with character development. Sara is incredibly likeable and realistic as she deals with the emotional turmoil of her dreams. The reader gets acquainted with quite a few characters while dealing with the main storyline and a few smaller parallel storylines.

The plot is entertaining and exceptionally unique. DiBenedetto is an outstanding writer with a clever sense of humor. He does a great job portraying a young female character. The novel is written in an interesting manner, first person, but also like Sara is explaining certain thoughts and actions directly to the reader. It’s a style that works quite well. This novel would be great for young adults and adults alike.

The cover looks reminiscent of a children’s book, which is a complete shame, since the novel is a fantastic and fun read. Don’t judge this book by its cover.

“Dream Student” was an engaging and entertaining novel full of romance and suspense. I will definitely be reading the next books in the series.

I highly recommend it.

**I received this book free from the author. This in no way influenced my review.**
Profile Image for Avardsin.
95 reviews
April 4, 2013
I got this book when it was free on kindle..

The book tells the story from Sera perception. She begins by having a dream with an unknown boy, who having a dream/fantasy of her in a cheerleaders costumes, and she comes to the conclusion that she is experiencing someone else's dream. She doesn't confirm this fact until she actually meets the guy from her dream...

Sounds all fun? For example when she saw her friend/roommate having a pseudo-sex dream of Sean Connery... That would be some teasing material right there (which she doesn't use)... But early on she starts having nightmares, experiences the acts of another that is not harmless or have any good intentions..

Its hard to write a story review without giving the plot of the story away, though you could probably already guess or read from another review or synopsis. So in that case i will just say if i had to class this book, i would put it under crime/thriller/suspense.

I try to go into a book without knowing very much, when i came to this book i thought it would have been more supernatural/fantasy, which i tend to like. I would not but this book under supernatural, even if it does have a supernatural aspect. That being said overall it was a good read and glad i did not judge this book of the book cover (which looks terrible in my opinion).
Profile Image for Bárbara Tomé.
Author 1 book92 followers
August 2, 2014
First, a special thank you to Mr. DiBenedetto for sending me a free e-book version of his book!

Read my entire review (as well as another blogger's) in English and Portuguese here.

Dream Student is the first book of Dreams series, whose main character is Sara Barnes, a girl of approximately my age and who, like me, wants to be a doctor. She’s a young woman that we can include in the comprehensive category of normal, and therefore could be me, my best friend, my next-door neighbor. For these reasons, it was very easy, for me, to empathize with the protagonist.

And this is the ordinary girl to whom something extraordinary happens: Sara can see the dreams of other people, when she falls asleep she’s not just exploring her own subconscious, but involuntarily wandering hidden fantasies, the most secret fears and the most horrendous intentions in the dreams of people more or less close to her. And if some dreams are just nasty because they are such an intimate invasion of privacy, others are truly nightmares, disturbing and thoroughly described in such a way that we feel the hopelessness and the powerlessness Sara feels, and this was what I liked best about this book and what I enjoyed most reading.

(Continue reading in the link above).
520 reviews14 followers
February 15, 2015
The spacing of the story was a little too slow at the beginning for but it caught up somewhere between the middle to the end.

Sara's unique ability to see the dreams of other people was interesting although it was scary when she can see the dreams of a murderer but thanks to that she was able to save lives. Although I do wonder why her ability appeared out of nowhere.

I think my favorite dream of hers was about Brian's. It was kind of funny but when they actually met, it was very sweet. The kiss out of the blue was totally of character but again it was hilarious especially Brian's reaction.

The relationship between these two progressed quickly but that was alright for me. Their feelings for another were real, that you could feel it too.

I liked the friendship between Beth and Sara. They treated each other like sisters and when things were hard they both have each other. It was nice that Beth believed in Sara about her dreams and it became a normal thing for them especially when Sara could also see Beth's dreams.

The mystery behind the killing I kind of guessed who the murderer was. I was right. Later, it would be revealed ( I won't spoil that part anymore).

The ending was satisfying and it was sweet. Although her dream ruined that surprise.
Profile Image for Sharon Stevenson.
Author 43 books306 followers
April 12, 2013
'Dream Student' is the story of college student Sara and her strange dreams.

There are some very interesting ideas regarding dreams in this book, but I have to say to me it read primarily like a romance novel with the dreams Sara is having as an intriguing and at times very creepy sub-plot. The romantic element is extremely well done. The dream plot unravelled quite slowly while Sara's romance blossomed, but it came to a satisfying conclusion in the end.

I enjoyed the characters very much in this novel. Sara came across a bit awkward, her directness was at times cringe-worthy. She is totally different to any other character I've come across, yet easy to sympathise with and fun to read about. Her love interest is a shy, quiet guy who is also vastly likeable.

Overall I would say this is an enjoyable read, with some interesting ideas and great characters. I would recommend to anyone who likes to read romance with an unusual twist or almost supernatural feel to it.
Profile Image for Dana Busenbark.
2,378 reviews28 followers
March 13, 2016
Sara is a pre-med student in her Junior year at the university. We start out the book in a dream sequence that is a little on the odd side. It really sets the tone of the book however. Who is this male that she sees in the basketball dream? When her dream shifts to something more horrific, who is that man? What happens when Sara's talked into going and seeing a former professor of her roommate beth? Why does Beth want her to see him and talk to him? What she sees as she waits for him is truly horrific. What sorts of dreams is Sara having? What do Beth and Brian have to do with all of it? How can she prove knowledge of things that have become public without looking like a freak? This is an interesting start to the series. I'm looking forward to reading Dream Doctor next.

Profile Image for Lee.
Author 26 books131 followers
December 19, 2014
I truly enjoyed this whole series of books. I have come to love the character of Sara very much. JJ Dibenedetto takes you into a world of full immersion that pulls you in and doesn't let go. I read the third book first so I kind of knew where the story was going so make sure you read them in order not to spoil them for yourself. Whichever one you read first surely will be entertaining, exciting, and interesting. This is truly a great read and I definitely will read more of JJ DiBenedetto's work because she truly is a talented writer. I hope she writes more of this series because it's really awesome. Getting into the world of people's dreams can be scary and strange with many twists and turns and Dibenedetto delivers! A well written story I would read again and again! Reviewed by Lee of Fae Books.
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