Abbey Campbell Cook is a debut author who explores humor in life and other realms on her popular Adventures in Woo Woo Land blog. She studied creative writing at UC Berkeley, and her first novel, The Lucidity Project (She Writes Press, 2016) has already reached #1 Hot New Release on Amazon’s Teen & Young Adult Thrillers & Suspense list.
Excerpt: “Jeez, you’d think I tried to drown a litter of kittens or something, the way you guys are acting. It’s not what it looks like.” Tears sprang to my eyes, as they’re bound to do after waking up from a failed suicide attempt. People say that if you die in your dreams you die in real life. That’s not true. All you do is wake up. I know—I die in my dreams all the time. Something I just can’t manage to pull off in the waking world.
When 25-year-old Maxine awakes in the hospital, she is resigned to the depression that she’s battled as long as she can remember. Then, a chance meeting in an elevator provides a possible way out. She decides to participate in The Lucidity Project, a meta-physical study conducted by the charismatic Dr. Micah McMoneagle. Micha’s taught his band of young dreamers to access the astral plane by way of conscious dreaming. He believes that through this process, they can come into their own, overcoming fears, demons (figurative and literal), and personal obstacles to find their true path to happiness.
At first, Max doesn’t see where she fits in with the cast on the island. She doesn’t believe in ghosts and has never been able to outrun the terrifying menace in her own reoccurring dreams. The concrete goal of the project is to reach an abandoned Lighthouse near a cliff on the island. Their target is clear-cut even if the methods of reaching it are not. The group will have to work together to outwit a forest full of danger and other entities that may or may not pose physical threats.
Max’s ability to work through her depression and forge a new, improved life seem tied to the outcome of her goals on the island. And there’s something about Micha. She’s drawn to him and can’t quite figure out why.
Campbell Cook has created a protagonist worth rooting for, and paints a lively, colorful portrait of the tropical location for the titular project. The terminology and philosophies behind The Lucidity Project may be a bit esoteric or speculative (consider the title of the author’s blog), but the ideas are intriguing. The author keeps the pages turning through mounting tension and dangers, both real and maybe not-so-real. And provides plenty of surprises as well.
Perhaps most intriguing is Max’s final decision regarding the direction her life will take. Too often, young female heroines are constrained by convention even in 21st century fiction. Overall, Abbey Campbell Cook has created an adventurous and unusual tale of two worlds and a courageous young woman trying to navigate them both.