The AL-EX Project, by C.M. Donaldson

The AL-EX Project (ALternative EXistence)

I remember seeing a meme once that said “I wish I could record my dreams and watch them later.” Can’t say that’s a thought I’ve never had, considering how vivid and interesting some of my dreams are.

The AL-EX Project is about recording dreams and finding out how much of the results we can manipulate. It is the story of a man named Alex who, orphaned at a young age, suffers from recurring nightmares. He teams up with George, nicknamed The Scientist, and together they start off a project called Alternative Existence (or AL-EX) to record and study dreams.

This is a story with a lot, and I mean, a lot of potential. Dreams are a complicated subject, and anyone who has ever been interested in the theory and interpretation will tell you how simply marvellous the study of dreams is. With that said, in The AL-EX Project, the subject has not been dealt with in a way to fulfil that potential. Before I read the book, the author told me that it is a light-hearted novel, not one to be taken too seriously. Light-heartedness is not a flaw. A lot of light-hearted books are a delight to read! The AL-EX Project has other drawbacks, such as:

-Lack of dialogue

-Detached narrative
-Long sentences
-Typographical errors
-Too many parentheses
-Excessive detail

Some stories are narrated from a first person POV and some from a third person POV. Technically speaking, this one would fall into the latter category. However, while reading the book, you feel there is a “fourth person”, totally unrelated to the characters, narrating the story. There is very little dialogue and more of reported speech. “He was quick to stop her and he told her she would do no such thing, more forcefully than he intended…” This is just one instance where what could have been a dialogue has been written as a narrative.
There are some tragic events in this story, but the “fourth-person” narrative just does not let the reader “feel” what the characters are going through. For example, there is a line, “To say she was beside herself was an understatement.” This is after a particularly tragic event, but when I read this line, I could just imagine someone shrugging their shoulders nonchalantly and saying “She was really sad.” I just don’t feel the sorrow.
Some sentences should have been cut short. These sentences seemed to go on forever, with a lot of commas and conjunctions. Speaking of conjunctions, a lot of sentences began with the word “And”. These were not sentences that described finality of any sort (in which case, beginning the sentence with “And” would have been acceptable). They were in the middle of paragraphs or in the middle of events.
Some typos: quotation marks have been closed, even if the dialogue has not ended, “its” has been written as “it’s”, “ambition” has been written as “ambitious” and so on.
Brackets make appearances every now and then in the narrative. Combine these with long sentences, and they really take a reader’s focus off.
This could have been a lot more compact than it is, with a lot more focus on the project itself. Some of the chapters contain a lot of detail. There is a lot of stuff about how Alex and Kayj met etc, and at times you feel including this isn’t really helping the whole “dream recording” idea. Also, it is evident that quite some research has gone into this work; but the presentation of this research sounds dry, like a Wikipedia page. There is a chapter about sedatives that felt like information overload, and while it may have been interesting, the “dryness” of it made me skim through it a little bit.

Had the author retained its light-heartedness, but added a bit more dialogue, and a little more of expressiveness in tragic scenes, this would have been a better book. The idea is still great, but as a reader, I feel there is something missing.

Rating: 2/5
Available at Amazon: The AL-EX Project (ALternative EXistence)

Note: A review for this book was requested by the author. I was notified when a Kindle copy was available for free download.

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