Book Review: The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett
Sixteen-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare.
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.
It looks likes the average rating for The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett is about three stars. I find this a bit odd. I know why I have problems with it but my problems are rarely shared by other young adult book readers. Of course, my main problem with The Nightmare Affair, and really most young adult books, is the juvenile and asinine romance. On page 20 there was this line: “Eli pointed at me, his chest muscles flexing in a way that made me want to giggle.” I’ll admit, I nearly put the book down right there and then. That line was almost too much for me to take. But I persevered and finished it. My own rating fell around 3 stars as well, for annoying romance and rather formulaic plot.
What I Liked
The basic idea. A magical/supernatural creature that feeds on dreams? That is awesome! A whole secret school hiding a whole society of magical/supernatural creatures? That is awesome! I really enjoyed the world building in The Nightmare Affair.
What I Didn’t Like
The romance. I still cringe just thinking about it. I know there are only so many ways an author can express an interest between characters but – honestly? – when it begins to sound like the symptoms to some disease, you need to reevaluate how you are writing it. I know teen romance is awkward but the girl shouldn’t come off looking like she has mental problems and menopause. (There is medicine for hot flashes, you know!)
As awesome as the world building and details are, the plot and characters are a bit formulaic. Dusty is the quirky girl whose quirk, her poufy red hair, just adds to her appeal. Eli is the hot bad boy who is really not as bad as he seems. It goes on; there is a love triangle, an outcast best friend, and the main character is a special snowflake among all the snowflakes. Even the bad guy fits within the well-worn young adult plot template. The reader pretty much knows who the bad guy is just because it follows the pattern.
Sometimes I feel like I’m reading the same young adult book over and over again with different characters and settings. I can see why The Nightmare Affair rates three stars for most everyone but books like this usually rate higher with the masses. For me, three stars means the novel was just okay. Not bad but not great either. The world building, nice pacing, and my love for all things magical and mythical save the book from being rated any lower. There is a decent amount to like in The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett. There could be improvements but I will definitely be reading the second book in the series just to see what happens next at Arkwell Academy.