Alice: From Dream to Dream
Giulio Macaione (writer & artist), Jackie Ball (English adaptation), Guilia Macaione (colorist), Jim Campbell (letterer)
September 26, 2018
Alice: From Dream to Dream follows a teen girl gifted with the power of entering other people’s dreams. For Alice, however, these powers are more a curse than a gift. Sharing a room with her brother, she is forced to enter his horror movie-induced nightmares every night. When she complains about the lack of sleep, her mother is less than understanding. The one person who does understand is her best friend Jamie. Only when Jamie is hit by a car and enters a coma does Alice realize she can harness her power to help others.
At the heart of this story is the teenage subconscious. After all, when Alice enters dreams, she is ultimately entering the dreamer’s subconscious. Creators Giulio Macaione and Giulia Adragna’s ability to translate the amorphous quality of the subconscious onto the page is the greatest strength of this original graphic novel. Alice enters three different characters’ dreams, and while each subconscious is represented differently, the creators’ use of color (various hues of pink and purple) creates a clear distinction between the real world and the subconscious mind. On the other hand, the slight variations in each character’s subconscious clearly demonstrates each individual’s unique mental state and/or struggles. Alice’s brother Louis’s subconscious is dominated by fear, and Macaione and Adragna demonstrate this by filling his dreams with zombies chasing him through dark graveyards cast in hues of dark red and purple.
Their representation of the subconscious takes a step further when Alice enters Jamie’s coma. Jamie’s subconscious reflects his father’s dark secret, a secret Jamie discovered just before the accident that sent him into a coma. Similar to Louis’s subconscious, Jamie’s mental state is represented by dark woods inhabited with monsters. The monsters embody the secret of Jamie’s father, and as soon as Alice inhabits his subconscious, these monster begin to harass her. Alice realizes that in order to help her best friend wake up, she must first help him confront and come to terms with his father’s mistakes.
Despite these adventures into the subconscious, Alice and Jamie are average teenagers dealing with feeling misunderstood by their parents and peers, a feeling most young people relate too. Therefore, Alice: From Dream to Dream revolves around universal teenage dilemmas, and by exploring those dilemmas through the subconscious mind, the authors create an important message about the need for personal and familial healing.
Conceptually, this graphic novel leaves a lot for readers to examine. Where it falls flat, on the other hand, is plot development. Most of the major plot twists feel coincidental rather than something the creators are building toward. For example, at one moment Jamie is discovering his father’s secret and in the next he is getting hit by a car. The ending also feels forced rather than earned. After saving Jamie, Alice is completely free from her previous hardships: she no longer shares a room with her brother, she is getting along with peers at school, and her relationship with her parents is back on track. All extraneous plot details are wrapped up into a way too perfect bow, leaving nothing up to the reader’s imagination. However, even in moments where the plot feels thin, creators Macaione and Adragna create compelling characters that demonstrate the power of the teen mind and the importance of cultivating empathy, which alone makes Alice: From Dream to Dream a worthy read for all ages.