Friday, 26 April 2013

Review: The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

The Nightmare Affair (The Arkwell Academy #1) by Mindee Arnett
Publisher: Tor Teen
Released: March 5th 2013
My Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.

Literally.

Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy, is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder.

Then Eli’s dream comes true.

Now Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.
(from Goodreads)

The Nightmare Affair, though having an attention-grabbing premise (not to mention a wonderful cover) was a pretty average read for me. I did enjoy it, but it was just a standard format YA with nothing really new or exciting to offer. I was really looking forward to a story about a Nightmare who has to feed off of people’s dreams, but while Dusty was a decent character, it did feel like a bit of a letdown because of the somewhat predictable mystery and lacklustre supporting characters.

Dust was an okay heroine, but again, didn’t really standout in any way. There were a lot of cliché things going on in The Nightmare Affair (e.g. typical mean crowd, cliques, losers vs popular kids, popular guy paying attention to unpopular girl, a whoopee cushion [didn’t those die out in the late 90s, seriously?] etc. etc.) and a lot of Dusty’s reactions were just typical response to these cliché events/conversations.  She was fairly funny, but the most interesting thing about her for me was the fact she was a Nightmare, and her strange connection to Ethan because of that side of her. I feel like Nightmares, while they were explained a bit, weren’t really focussed on as much as they could have been. I really would have liked to have found out more about them – especially Dusty’s mother, who seemed to be a horrible person at first (though my opinion of her changed as the book went on).

Ethan was just...blah. I neither liked nor disliked him. My opinion of him was pretty much the same as my opinion on forks, “Oh, they exist. But I don’t really think about them until I use them.”  I didn’t ever think of him until he showed up in the story, and even when he did, it felt like he was just there to carry out some purpose to move the story along, and there was no real fleshing out of his character of development of the relationship between him and Dusty. It wasn’t insta-love, luckily, which I was thankful for, but I just didn’t see anything between those two. This might be developed in later books (I do hope so), but until that happens, my opinion on Ethan will remain “meh”.

The plot was a little weak for me. I got what the aim was, but I feel like it was poorly executed perhaps. The writing style was slightly juvenile, and while that was good for a teenage voice, it made things easy to see through, characters easy to suspect and the mystery not very mysterious (though there were a few twists which I liked at the end). I also felt like things were resolved a little too quickly at the end, especially since people had actually died beforehand, though obviously it’s not the end of the trouble because there are more books to come! My favourite scene was probably the one at the beginning where Ethan woke up while Dusty was trying to feed on his dreams – very funny and the starting point of Ethan and Dusty’s association with each other. I did really like the fact that Dusty was unusual, even for a Nightmare, because of her ability which arises when with Ethan, and I would like to read more about it in the next book, which I will probably pick up to see if the writing style improves, but also because I am intrigued by what Dusty and co. will do next.

Overall, The Nightmare Affair wasn’t a brilliant masterpiece, but was definitely likeable, and if you’re looking for a fun book to pass the time, then pick this one up.

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