Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Nightmare Affair - Mindee Arnett

The Nightmare Affair book cover
The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett
Series: The Arkwell Academy #1
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: March 5, 2013
Source/Format: Netgalley (Thanks Macmillan!) || e-galley
[I received this book from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

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)


It will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that I enjoy finding discovering books with main characters who make me laugh. I always think that reading a book should be an enjoyable experience, and The Nightmare Affair was just the ticket when I was looking for a light, fun read to start the other day. Even though a couple of things bothered me as I read, I really liked this one and would definitely pick up the sequel.

The major culprit behind my amusement is main character Dusty. She's literally a Nightmare, which basically means she invades dreams to feed on the fictus in them (and doesn't necessarily cause an actual nightmare). I loved her gumption and attitude, and the fact that she tried to take everything in her stride. The sassy way she thought and spoke and the things she did just made me smile a lot, both because it was funny and because it was just so darn unintelligent at times. It is not often that I can find a character funny for not thinking her actions through, but for some reason, I really did think it silly and harmless when it came to Dusty. Really, the only problem I had with her was that sometimes, she came across as a little bit young in her thoughts and the dialogue, which would throw me off since she was supposed to be a teen.

Another thing I enjoyed about this book was that it was mostly set in a boarding school designed for magickind. We get to see an interesting variety, including sirens, demons and fairies, and it was fun to see how their powers would manifest in the book. I do wish that we'd experienced more at the school, but I'm happy to report that there were a few classroom moments and lunchroom experiences tossed into the story even as the focus remained on the big mystery.

The mystery, on the other hand, was pretty good. It involved a lot of elements - Dusty's ability to see things happening in Eli's dreams, the political unrest between the magickind and a mysterious ancient power - but I thought it was well-handled. I was interested in figuring out who the culprit was, although the revelation really shocked me (as it totally came out of left field). The twist was enough to get me excited to see what happens in the next one though!

Honestly, if there was any issue I really had with the book, it was this - it felt like it took forever for things to happen. I'd be fascinated because there was some big, meaningful event and then my attention would wander while we waited for things to keep on happening. It was a lot of back and forth when it came to my attention span as I read this book, so I do think that could have been improved upon. I did manage to find the last third especially engrossing though, but I do worry that most of the action happened only then since it will take a patient reader to want to get that far.

(And also, the romance totally did not feel believable to me. I just found it predictable and slightly cliche, so I don't even want to go into details except to say that I pretty much had the boy she'd end up with pegged since the start of the book.)

The Nightmare Affair is a fun, quirky read that certainly kept me amused once I'd started. In between Dusty's antics, this incredibly unique school and the big mystery, there is a lot for the reader to experience. While I had problems with the pacing, the romance and occasionally with Dusty's voice, I do think that it's a good series starter. I'll definitely be picking up the next one to discover what Dusty gets up to next!

14 comments:

  1. I was excited about this book, but it didn't live up to my expectations. I agree that Dusty was funny, though! And I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

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    1. I was expecting a wee bit more from it as well, if I'm being perfectly honest. In the end though, I thought it was funny and interesting. And I did like Dusty!

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  2. Oooh very interesting! I have this one from NC but haven't made it there yet. You review definitely makes me want to get to it soon though! It sounds like the lightness I need right now :)

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    1. It's definitely a read on the lighter side. I was very amused by Dusty, and I thought the story was pretty fun to read too. I hope you get to it soon!

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  3. See, my problem with the book was that I thought the mystery part of it was TOO predictable. I called who the killer was (which is supposed to be this big twist) WAY before the big reveal and I guess as an avid mystery fan, that was disappointing. And I also agree with you that the pacing was poor in this one. I did, however, LOVE the characters and the magic and the boarding school setting, so I'll certainly stick around to see what book #2 has to offer.

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    1. You did? I honestly had NO idea who the killer was (which doesn't say much because I never guess with mysteries). But yes, the characters were pretty swell.

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  4. LOVED the whole vibe of the magical boarding school...Hogwarts!? :) I do agree thought it was a little slow to pick up but I thought the flow of it went well. Love the review Alexa! :)

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    1. It could have been Hogwarts - if it was only a school for people capable of doing magic and not paranormal creatures. I liked that part of it a whole lot though!

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  5. I really enjoyed this this one. I was able to predict the murderer, but the path to discovery was a fun ride. I loved the nightmare concept and the variation on the paranormal characters. One thing I didn't like was that the secondary characters were underdeveloped.

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    1. Whoa! You guys are so smart; I really did have NO idea who the murderer was.

      I liked the concept of Nightmares too. They make for such an interesting supernatural creature! And I totally agree about the secondary characters, though I do think there's potential there.

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  6. OMG! I totally did not feel the romance either! on top of other things, I think that was the moment where I genuinely lost interest in the book.

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    1. The romance was just... Let's just say that it made me roll my eyes quite a bit. I mean, SERIOUSLY. But I feel like it MIGHT get better.

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  7. Pacing is a big thing for me ... I like a story that flows perfectly. But since this is a debut, I think I'd forgive it. This story does sound really good! It might be a fun read one day. :)

    Great review!

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    1. I think that's how I felt. I usually have more patience for debut novels, and I think that this is a pretty good one.

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