The tagline, "A Tale of Uphoria," is an incredibly apt description of the world created within the "Into the Dust" series of short stories. Surely, you know the story of Neverland. Or, at least, you know that all you have to do is aim yourself toward the second star to the right, and fly until morning. "Into the Dust" takes your preconceptions of Neverland, and those who inhabit it, and twists them into something a little different. Something ... A little Uphoric.
"Into the Dust", in its whole, will be a collection of shorts stories assembled together to give you background for a forthcoming novel by Ren Cummins and Kiri Callaghan, due to hit virtual (and possibly physical) shelves near you in 2013. Each story in this series of prequels gives you a little taste of what Uphoria, the realm of Neverland, truly is. The first two stories, written by Cummins, focus on the Lost Boys and some pirates. The third story in the series, "The Lily or the Tiger", tells us about a girl named Lily and the summer she was sixteen. The Summer of Love, 1967.
Like many people of the time, Lily enjoyed the message of love and peace touted through popular music. Together, with a group of friends known as the Tribe, Lily would go once a week to a place known as Uphoria, only accessible through the use of Dust. Dust has rules, rules that should never be broken. Only use Dust as a chaser. Never use Dust on an empty stomach.
And never, ever use a thought you might be afraid of losing.
The toll of Dust is that once you use a happy thought, it's gone forever. It could be something little, like the ice cream cake you had at your birthday party last year. Or it could be something huge, like how you felt the day you graduated. No matter what it is, that beautiful feeling of happiness is never coming back.
"The Lily or the Tiger" is a fantastic short story, with its roots set in a place that many people know and love from their childhood. The character of Tiger Lily is flawed and, though those flaws, so realistic you could reach out and touch her. Glorious in her naïveté, Tiger Lily brings you up and shows the reader how fantastic the world of Uphoria is. At the same time, she skirts the dangers, giving a little taste of just how bad things can turn out if one isn't careful of where they tread. As the story progresses, the relationships between the characters involved in the world of Uphoria becomes deeper and more realistic, which makes it all the more heartbreaking when the world comes tumbling apart.
One of the things that this reviewer personally enjoyed most about "The Lily or the Tiger" was the small bits of information provided about the characters that made them seem more real. The way Lily mentions she dreams that her friends Midge and Randy will get together, or how Doritos are pretty much the best food ever. It is as if all that extra information, the little bits that would usually be glossed over in a longer story, were sprinkled in like glitter, like Dust, to give the reader a more in-depth journey to Uphoria.
Overall, I definitely enjoyed this story. A quick read, and definitely worth the price tag. If you've ever wanted a return to Neverland, a return to the place where happy thoughts can whisk you a way at a moment's notice, the "Into the Dust" stories are for you.